What are the protected characteristics and why do I have to teach about them?
It is crucial for our children to have an understanding of the world they are growing up in. They should learn to coexist with and demonstrate respect toward diverse individuals. During school inspections, OFSTED evaluates how well children are equipped to do so. Inspectors gather evidence on schools’ promotion of equality and understanding of protected characteristics. They evaluate three areas: personal development; leadership and management. If a school is not teaching about all protected characteristics, inspectors report it and explain its impact on inspection judgements.
The protected characteristics, as defined by the Equality and Human Rights Commission are:
A person belonging to a particular age (for example 32-year-olds) or range of ages (for example 18 to 30 year olds).
A person has a disability if she or he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on that person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
The process of transitioning from one sex to another.
Marriage and civil partnership
Marriage is a union between a man and a woman or between a same-sex couple.
Same-sex couples can also have their relationships legally recognised as ‘civil partnerships’. Civil partners must not be treated less favourably than married couples (except where permitted by the Equality Act).
Pregnancy and maternity
Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
Refers to the protected characteristic of race. It refers to a group of people defined by their race, colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.
Religion and belief
Religion refers to any religion, including a lack of religion. Belief refers to any religious or philosophical belief and includes a lack of belief. Generally, a belief should affect your life choices or the way you live for it to be included in the definition.
A man or a woman.
Whether a person’s sexual attraction is towards their own sex, the opposite sex or to both sexes.
How does the Kapow Primary’s RSE and PSHE scheme support teaching of the protected characteristics?
Promoting respect for people of diverse and sometimes unfamiliar backgrounds is nothing new. However, Ofsted states:
‘All primary and secondary schools…should be able to demonstrate that no form of discrimination is tolerated and that pupils show respect for those who share the protected characteristics. Schools will not be able to demonstrate this by pointing to a general policy of encouraging respect for all people.’
The mapping document below shows which Kapow Primary RSE and PSHE lessons (KS1 and KS2) support schools in teaching pupils to show respect for those who share the protected characteristics. These issues are integrated into the curriculum, rather than addressed separately, and are taught in an age-appropriate way.