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Equality in 14-19 education

Equalities work is improving the educational experience of individual learners.

Last updated: 05 Jan 2009

All children and young people are entitled to an education appropriate to their needs, circumstances and potential. The learning outcomes of every qualification should be equally accessible to all school-age learners, regardless of race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion/ belief. QCA is committed to promoting equality in all of our programmes of curriculum and qualification development.

Every Child Matters

Every Child Matters states that every child, whatever their background or circumstances, should have the support they need to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing.

These five outcomes need to be at the heart of everything a school or college does and reinforced through every aspect of the curriculum - lessons, events, routines, the environment in which children and young people learn and what they do out of school.

Further details on Every Child Matters can be found on the following websites:

The national curriculum statutory inclusion statement

Schools have a responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all learners. The statutory inclusion statement sets out three principles for developing an inclusive curriculum which provides all learners with relevant and challenging learning.

Schools must:

  • set suitable learning challenges
  • respond to learners’ diverse learning needs
  • overcome potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of learners.

The statutory inclusion statement can be found on QCA's national curriculum website: http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/key-stages-1-and-2/inclusion/statutory-inclusion-statement/index.aspx

Education institutions and their staff are responsible for ensuring that these requirements are met and that potential barriers restricting access are overcome.

Six broad strands

Equality matters are often addressed under the six broad strands of race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion/belief.

QCA is working to promote equality and eliminate discrimination and barriers through its overarching Single Equality Scheme. This incorporates the six strands into the core of QCA’s work and expresses QCA’s organisational commitment to make the experience of education applicable, relevant and inclusive to all learners.

There are legislative frameworks underpinning requirements on schools, colleges and other public bodies in relation to race, gender and disability.

Information on the curriculum and learner-related aspects of these requirements can be accessed from the following links:

Inclusion and diversity

It is also helpful to consider equality from the perspectives of inclusion and diversity. These perspectives overlap with the six broad strands listed above, while providing for the needs of individuals and groups to be further identified and met.


One of the four main purposes of the national curriculum is to actively involve all learners, 'irrespective of social background, culture, race, gender, differences in ability and disabilities'.

Planning for inclusion means thinking about how teaching and learning can be designed to match the diverse needs and interests of the full range of learners. This includes considering the needs of specific groups of learners. These will need to be addressed both inside and outside the classroom. The learners may include:

  • the gifted and talented
  • learners with learning difficulties and disabilities
  • learners who are learning English as an additional language (EAL)
  • the different needs of boys and girls
  • looked after children (children who are in care)
  • learners with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Useful guidance about theses areas can be found in QCA's inclusion area

QCA has also produced the following inclusion-related materials:

Identity and cultural diversity

These cross-curriculum dimensions support young people in developing their own identity and sense of belonging, as well as helping them to live and work together in diverse communities.

Guidance and resources for developing this dimension and meeting the duty on maintained schools to promote community cohesion introduced by Education and Inspections Act 2006 can be found at http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/key-stages-3-and-4/cross-curriculum-dimensions/culturaldiversityidentity/index.aspx.

Individual learners and diversity

Each individual brings their own life experience to their education. These aspects of diversity encompass such things as attitudes, perspectives, beliefs, background, skills, knowledge and personal history and experience.

It is important to consider equality across the six broad strands, to develop inclusive institutional policies and practice, and to provide for the diverse needs of children and young people. At the same time, the ultimate focus of equalities work is improving the educational experience of individual learners.

While it is valuable to consider needs and possibilities under the various headings above, real learners are unlikely to fit neatly into these categories. The starting point is the individual: who they are, what they need and how these needs can be met.

Further information

To find out more about 14-19 learning visit the 14-19 learning hub.

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