Lord Maginnis of Drumglass – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Education

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass on 2016-10-21.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are planning to restrict the ability of local authorities to request information about children’s self-perception of their sexual orientation.

Lord Nash

The Department for Education do not require schools or local authorities to collect any information on the sexual orientation of children. Any information collected locally by schools and / or local authorities on sexual orientation for their own purposes is a matter for them to manage locally.

The Department for Education has provided schools with guidance on complying with the Equality Act.

The Public Sector Equality Duty, at section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, is a duty on public bodies (and others carrying out public functions) to consider, in their day to day work, the needs of people who share particular protected characteristics. This includes schools and children’s services.

Under the Duty, public bodies must have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conducted that is prohibited under the Equality Act 2010
  • advance equality of opportunity, and;
  • foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not.

The Equality Duty covers the protected characteristics listed in the Equality Act, which includes age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Guidance on complying with the Act and the Equality Duty can be found on GOV.UK (under Equality Act 2010 guidance). Earlier guidance formed under the Coalition Government has been archived on the National Archives website (under the ‘Equality Bill’ guidance). The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also issued guidance on the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Local authorities will also have to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 on the data they collect. The Information Commissioner’s Office state that data should only be collected if organisations have legitimate grounds for collecting and using the personal data; that they do not use the data in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned; that they be transparent about how they intend to use the data, and give individuals appropriate privacy notices when collecting their personal data.