The Equalities Challenge

About this advice

This is a general advice paper covering a number of broad ‘equalities’ issues, what the NAHT is doing about the overall challenge and how your school can play its part in meeting what is undoubtedly one of ‘the’ issues facing our communities and society today.

Let’s consider some of the latest data on equality issues in schools:

  • British school leadership, as a whole, is still not that diverse or inclusive
  • It’s estimated by the DfE that just over 3% of head teachers are of an ethnic origin that isn’t white
  • While 74% of all classroom teachers are female, only 62% of head teachers are female
  • There is no reliable data on the percentage of head teachers who class themselves as disabled
  • Data on LGBT school leaders is, at best, opaque.

Not the finest set of data you’ve seen I guess but perhaps not surprising. Whatever we think about these issues, it’s important for you to know what the NAHT is doing about it and how it’s playing it’s part in meeting the equalities challenge.


What are NAHT doing to support the challenge?

NAHT’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a sub-committee of its National Executive has recently recommended that NAHT develops a vision that will facilitate:

  • Support for our members in meeting the needs of pupils and staff with protected characteristics in their schools
  • Support the protected characteristics of NAHT members to ensure inclusivity and representation
  • The development of an inclusive and diverse workforce and employment practices within NAHT.

Those NAHT teams responsible for the delivery of the above will be providing progress reports back to the committee at agreed intervals.

Next, we turn our attention to the part that schools can play in meeting the challenge, engaging key school stakeholders, and taking a look at LGBT and disability in particular.


Get school stakeholders engaged

  • Governors and trustees are responsible for appointing school leaders; NAHT believes that anyone sitting on school leader selection panels should have received relevant diversity and inclusion training, at the very least.
  • Enlightening governing bodies to the potential advantages of working flexibly and flexible working is also key to ensuring that school leaders, male and female, can balance their professional duties and their personal responsibilities, often caring for children and elderly parents simultaneously.
  • Raise staff awareness around relevant equalities issues and reflect the latest thinking in the school’s policies and practices.
  • Evidence of diversity and inclusion is something that Ofsted is keen on!



  • NAHT, working alongside Stonewall, has developed some pioneering advice and guidance for school leaders on LGBT staffing and pupil issues. LGBT staff can provide important role models for pupils, important because Stonewall research has shown that 90% of LGBT pupils have been bullied because of their gender or sexuality and many struggle with anxiety and depression.


Schools can:

  • Cover LGBT issues as part of the curriculum (RSHE)
  • Tell parents that their school is tackling diversity and inclusion in lessons
  • Commission staff awareness training and professional development
  • Raise the school’s approach to diversity and inclusion on the school’s website



  • One of the challenges with disability is how you define someone as ‘disabled’. The Equality Act 2010 defines it as “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”.
  • Schools and school leaders have a duty of care to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ to any employee with a disability – if you are unsure whether a particular condition qualifies as a disability, you need to seek the opinion of a medical practitioner, although the ultimate judgement of whether a condition is a disability is a legal one.
  • What is the extent of disability within the profession? The truth is that we don’t know.


Schools can:

Survey their own staff and devise an action plan to resolve identified issues.


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