825. These exceptions, and the amending powers in paragraph 7, are designed to replicate
the effect of provisions in Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006.
Schools with religious character: paragraph 5
826. This paragraph allows schools which have a religious character or ethos (often
referred to as faith schools) to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief in relation to
admissions and in access to any benefit, facility or service. It means that faith school may have
admissions criteria which give preference to members of its own religion and it allows them to
conduct themselves in a way which is compatible with their religious character or ethos. It
does not allow faith schools to discriminate on any other of the prohibited grounds, such as
sex, race or sexual orientation. Nor does it allow them to discriminate on religious grounds in
other respects, such as by excluding a pupil or subjecting him to any other detriment.
• A Muslim school may give priority to Muslim pupils when choosing between
applicants for admission (although the Admissions Code will not allow it to refuse to
accept pupils of another or no religion unless it is oversubscribed). However, it may
not discriminate between pupils on other prohibited grounds, such as by refusing to
admit a child of the school’s own faith because she is black or a lesbian.
• A Jewish school which provides spiritual instruction or pastoral care from a rabbi is
not discriminating unlawfully by not making equivalent provision for pupils from
• A Roman Catholic school which organises visits for pupils to sites of particular
interest to its own faith, such as a cathedral, is not discriminating unlawfully by not
arranging trips to sites of significance to the faiths of other pupils.
• A faith school would be acting unlawfully if it sought to penalise or exclude a pupil
because he or she had renounced the faith of the school or joined a different religion or
Curriculum, worship etc.: paragraph 6
827. This paragraph disapplies the prohibition on religious discrimination from anything
done in relation to acts of worship or other religious observance organised by or on behalf of a
school, whether or not it is part of the curriculum.
828. This exception applies to any school, not just faith schools, and reflects the need to
avoid any conflict with the existing legislative framework in respect of religious worship,
which generally requires collective worship to be of a broadly Christian nature. While parents
can remove their children from collective worship, and Sixth Form pupils may decide to
withdraw themselves, schools are under no obligation to provide opportunities for separate
worship for the different religions and beliefs represented among their pupils. The exception in
paragraph 6 maintains that position. It is designed to replicate the position in the Equality Act
Where proposals are made to the Welsh Ministers under section 113A of the
Learning and Skills Act 2000 for an alteration in the admissions
arrangements of a single-sex school or a school to which paragraph 2
the making of the proposals is to be treated as an application to the
Welsh Ministers for the making of a transitional exemption order,
the Welsh Ministers may make the order.
In the case of a school in England or Wales not coming within sub-paragraph
(1), (2), (4) or (5) or an independent school in Scotland—
the responsible body may submit to the Commission an application
for the making of a transitional exemption order, and
the Commission may make the order.
An application under sub-paragraph (6) must specify—
the period proposed by the responsible body as the transitional
period to be specified in the order,
the stages within that period by which the body proposes to move to
the position where section 80(1)(a) and (c), so far as relating to sex, is
any other matters relevant to the terms and operation of the order
The Commission must not make an order on an application under sub-
paragraph (6) unless satisfied that the terms of the application are
reasonable, having regard to—
the nature of the school’s premises,
the accommodation, equipment and facilities available, and
the responsible body’s financial resources.
Religious or belief-related discrimination
School with religious character etc.
Section 80(1) and (2)(a) to (d), so far as relating to religion or belief, does not
a school designated under section 69(3) of the School Standards and
Framework Act 1998 (foundation or voluntary school with religious
a school listed in the register of independent schools for England or
for Wales, if the school’s entry in the register records that the school
a school transferred to an education authority under section 16 of the
Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (transfer of certain schools to
education authorities) which is conducted in the interest of a church
a school provided by an education authority under section 17(2) of
that Act (denominational schools);
a grant-aided school (within the meaning of that Act) which is
conducted in the interest of a church or denominational body;
• Under education law, a school must allow Jewish or Hindu parents to withdraw their
children from daily assemblies which include an element of worship of a mainly
Christian character, but they will not be discriminating unlawfully against those
children by not providing alternative assemblies including Jewish or Hindu worship.
• Schools are free to organise or to participate in ceremonies celebrating any faith, such
as Christmas, Diwali, Chanukah or Eid, without being subject to claims of religious
discrimination against children of other religions or of none.
Power to amend: paragraph 7
829. Paragraph 7 provides a power for a Minister of the Crown to amend or repeal these
religious discrimination exceptions.
830. This power is designed to replicate the effect of provisions in Part 2 of the Equality
Act 2006, which first prohibited religious discrimination to schools. It has not yet been used.
Its purpose is to enable a Minister of the Crown to review the working of these provisions once
they have been in effect for a sufficient period and make any changes which appear to be
necessary in the light of that experience, using secondary legislation.
Permitted forms of selection: paragraph 8
831. This paragraph provides that schools will not be discriminating against disabled
children when applying a permitted form of selection that they are using.
832. This provision is designed to replicate the effect of provisions in the Disability
Discrimination Act 1995. Permitted forms of selection are the selective admission
arrangements operated by grammar schools, and selection by ability and aptitude in
accordance with the School Standards and Framework Act 1998
• The parents of a disabled pupil cannot claim disability discrimination against a
particular school if that pupil fails to meet any educational entry requirements set by
a school registered in the register of independent schools for
Scotland if the school admits only pupils who belong, or whose
parents belong, to one or more particular denominations;
a school registered in that register if the school is conducted in the
interest of a church or denominational body.
Curriculum, worship, etc.
Section 80(2)(a) to (d), so far as relating to religion or belief, does not apply
in relation to anything done in connection with acts of worship or other
religious observance organised by or on behalf of a school (whether or not
forming part of the curriculum).
A Minister of the Crown may by order amend this Part of this Schedule—
so as to add, vary or omit an exception to section 80;
so as to make provision about the construction or application of
section 18(2)(d) in relation to section 80.
The power under sub-paragraph (1) is exercisable only in relation to
religious or belief-related discrimination.
An order under sub-paragraph (1) may not be made unless the Minister has
the Scottish Ministers, and
such other persons as the Minister thinks appropriate.
Permitted form of selection
A person does not contravene section 80(1), so far as relating to disability,
only by applying a permitted form of selection.
In relation to England and Wales, a permitted form of selection is—
in the case of a maintained school which is not designated as a
grammar school under section 104 of the School Standards and
Framework Act 1998, a form of selection mentioned in section 99(2)
in the case of a maintained school which is so designated, its selective
admission arrangements (within the meaning of section 104 of that
in the case of an independent educational institution, arrangements
which provide for some or all of its pupils to be selected by reference
to general or special ability or aptitude, with a view to admitting
only pupils of high ability or aptitude.
In relation to Scotland, a permitted form of selection is—
in the case of a school managed by an education authority,
arrangements approved by the Scottish Ministers for the selection of
Schedule 12: further and higher education exceptions
Part 1: Single-sex institutions
833. Part 1 of this Schedule makes exceptions from the prohibition on sex discrimination
by further and higher education institutions to allow for the existence of single-sex colleges
and to make transitional provisions for single-sex institutions which are turning co-
834. These provisions are designed to replicate the effect of provisions in the Sex
Admission to single-sex institutions: paragraph 1
835. This paragraph allows a single-sex institution to refuse to admit members of the
opposite sex. An institution is defined as single-sex if it admits students of one sex only. An
institution which exceptionally admits students of the opposite sex, or which admits a
comparatively small number of opposite-sex students to particular courses or classes only, is
still regarded as single-sex. Limiting those students to particular courses or classes is
permitted. However, other forms of sex discrimination by the institution against its opposite-
sex students would still be unlawful.
• A women’s college which admits only female students is not discriminating
• If the college admits a small number of men to make up the numbers on a particular
course of study, it is still regarded as a single-sex college. It is not discriminating
unlawfully by refusing to admit men to other courses.
• A women’s college which admits men to certain courses but refuses to let them use the
student cafeteria would be discriminating unlawfully against them.
in the case of an independent school, arrangements which provide
for some or all of its pupils to be selected by reference to general or
special ability or aptitude, with a view to admitting only pupils of
high ability or aptitude.
“Maintained school” has the meaning given in section 22 of the School
Standards and Framework Act 1998.
Further and higher education exceptions
Single-sex institutions, etc.
Admission to single-sex institutions
Section 86(1), so far as relating to sex, does not apply in relation to a single-
A single-sex institution is an institution to which section 86 applies, which—
admits students of one sex only, or
on the basis of the assumption in sub-paragraph (3), would be taken
to admit students of one sex only.
That assumption is that students of the opposite sex are to be disregarded
their admission to the institution is exceptional, or
their numbers are comparatively small and their admission is
confined to particular courses or classes.
In the case of an institution which is a single-sex institution by virtue of sub-
paragraph (3)(b), section 86(2)(a) to (d), so far as relating to sex, does not
prohibit confining students of the same sex to particular courses or classes.
Single sex institutions turning co-educational
If the responsible body of a single-sex institution decides to alter its
admissions arrangements so that the institution will cease to be a single-sex
institution, the body may apply for a transitional exemption order in relation
A transitional exemption order relating to an institution is an order which,
during the period specified in the order as the transitional period,
sex discrimination by the responsible body of the institution in the
arrangements it makes for deciding who is offered admission as a
the responsible body, in the circumstances specified in the order, not
to admit a person as a student because of the person’s sex.
Paragraph 3 applies in relation to the making of a transitional exemption
Single-sex institutions turning co-educational: paragraphs 2 and 3
836. These paragraphs enable a college which is going through the process of changing
from a single-sex to a co-educational institution to apply for a transitional exemption order, to
enable it to continue restricting admittance to a single sex until the transition from single-sex is
837. Paragraph 3 sets out the procedures for applying for a transitional exemption order.
838. These provisions are designed to replicate the effect of provisions in the Sex
• If a transitional exemption order is made in accordance with the arrangements in
– A women’s college which decides to become co-educational by starting to admit a
certain number of male undergraduates to the first year of its degree courses will
not be discriminating unlawfully by limiting the number of men it admits, or by
refusing men access to postgraduate degree courses.
– A college in the process of becoming co-educational must treat its male and
female students equally once they have been admitted, since the transitional
exemption order relates only to discrimination in relation to admissions.
Occupational requirements: paragraph 4
839. This paragraph enables a higher or further education institution to treat a person
differently based on a protected characteristic in relation to providing training which would
only fit them for work which, under exceptions in Schedule , can lawfully be restricted to
people of a particular race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or age and for which they would
840. This is designed to replicate the effect of provisions in the current legislation.
• A Catholic theological college can refuse to admit a woman to a training course which
was designed only to prepare candidates for the Catholic priesthood. However, a
Church of England college could not confine training for the priesthood to men since
women may also become Anglican priests.