The scope of this Impact Assessment
This document considers the impact of:
- school closures;
- the decision to reopen schools full-time from 11 August 2020; and
- the associated contingency plan of 'blended learning', that we know may still need to be used if the infection rates increase again, at a national or local level.
All three elements are being assessed for their impact on the following groups:
- Children and young people;
- Parents and carers; and
- School staff, both teaching and non-teaching.
In developing this impact assessment, the Scottish Government is mindful of the three needs of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) - eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The Scottish Government recognises that while the measures may positively impact on one or more of the protected characteristics, the introduction of the measures may also have a disproportionate negative impact on one or more of the protected characteristics. Where any negative impacts have been identified, we have sought to mitigate/eliminate these. We are also mindful that the equality duty is not just about negating or mitigating negative impacts, as we also have a positive duty to promote equality. We have sought to do this through provisions contained in the regulations, or by current support and guidance available.
While it is the view of the Scottish Government that any remaining impacts are currently justified and a proportionate means of helping to achieve the legitimate aim of reducing the public health risks posed by coronavirus, the Scottish Government also recognises that these measures are only required to respond to the current set of circumstances, and are only necessary as long as the potential public health benefits can justify any negative impacts caused.
This document combines the government's commitment to the following impact assessments:
Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)
In line with The Equality Act 2010, the nine protected characteristics being considered are:
- Gender reassignment
- Pregnancy & maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage & civil partnership
Given the importance of assessing the impact on each of the protected characteristics, the Scottish Government has considered the effect of these measures against the needs of the general equality duty as set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. The Scottish Government has also considered whether the measures could constitute direct and/or indirect discrimination.
Specifically, the EQIA considers impacts on equalities groups based on the three tests it is required to address:
- Does this policy eliminate discrimination for each of the nine protected characteristics? If not is the discrimination justifiable? Can it be mitigated?
- Does this policy advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not?
- Does this policy foster good community relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not?
Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment (FSDA)
In line with The Equality Act (2010), and the Scottish Government's commitment to Fairer Scotland Duty Assessments since April 2018, this document will also consider members of society experiencing socio-economic disadvantage and how their experience of reopening schools may be differential to other groups.
Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA)
Although the requirement to carry out Island Community Impact Assessment (ICIA) has not yet been brought into force, the expectation is that, where possible, Scottish Government should be operating in the spirit of the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 and taking island issues into account when developing or reviewing policies, strategies or services.
Additionally, this document considers pupils, families and staff in the Gaelic medium education (GME) sector. GME is a distinct sector within Scottish education and has its own needs and characteristics, the nature of which are clearly described in the Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Education. GME has much in common with the protected characteristics of standard equality considerations.
Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA)
A BRIA is designed to assess the costs, benefits and risks that may impact the public, private or third sector. In the context of school closures and their reopening, this document considers the impact on independent schools.