Staff agency crucial in equality issue

16th July 2010 at 01:00
While the commitment of sector leaders is welcome and a key potential lever ("Leaders must make equality real", Letters, July 2), it is questionable whether principled principals can alone achieve greater equality.

Prior reports into systemic inequalities in the lifelong learning sector, including the Commission for Black Staff in Further Education, the Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning, and Equality and Sexual Orientation: the Leadership Challenge for Further Education, highlight the crucial importance of staff agency, such as through a robust Equality Impact Assessment process. This must incorporate statutory consultation and involve relevant stakeholders, including staff and trade unions, as part of the decision-making process.

It is clear from the Equality and Human Rights Commission's recent briefing paper, Making Fair Financial Decisions: A Briefing Note for Further and Higher Education Institutions, that colleges are not universally compliant with their public sector equality duties in relation to this critical active participation.

Joel Petrie, Formerly of the Disability Equality Implementation Group, Lifelong Learning UK.

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