The Equality Act 2010 brings together and extends existing equality legislation. It gained Royal Assent in April 2010.  The Act applies to England, Scotland and Wales, although Scotland has its own specific equality duties.

Find out more about the Legal Obligations on Colleges under the Equality Act 2010 and The Equality Act 2010 – What it means for colleges

A key element of the new Act is that providers of services must go further than protecting individuals from discrimination. They must actively pursue an environment which is inclusive, promotes equality and fosters good relations. To do this effectively, institutions are using the term mainstreaming equality to describe a move towards a practice that embraces equality for all in its policies and procedures.

The Equality Act encourages organisations to integrate equality and diversity practice rather than as an addition to existing practice. It has gone some way to streamlinking thinking about equality and diversity. Mainstreaming equality is a term that means thinking about equality as a right for everyone. The protected characteristics now include everyone at different ages and stages of their lives. Everyone benefits from positive action.

The process of mainstreaming equality means looking again at learning and teaching. Thinking about the spoken and written language we use and our own attitudes and assumptions can be a useful place to start.

When we encourage and inspire learners to adopt the principles of equality and inclusion for themselves, we are well on the way to mainstreaming the equalities agenda. The equality duty puts the practice of equality and diversity at the heart of every level of practice in an institution.

Mainstreaming equality puts it at the heart of all practice rather than thinking of it as another responsibility to be added on to all the others. Inclusive policies that are created to be relevant to everyone and that are understood and implemented across the whole college are the backbone of mainstreaming equalities.