Equality and diversity

The Department for Education aims to set an example as an employer and develop policies that make opportunity equal for children and young people.


Under the Equality Act 2010 we have a legal duty to publish information that shows compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty, and to publish our equality objectives. Our equality objectives are included in our Outcome Delivery Plan.

Equalities in policymaking and delivery

Equality and diversity are critical to delivering the Department for Education (DfE)’s vision: we enable children and learners to thrive by protecting the vulnerable and ensuring the delivery of excellent standards of education, training and care. This helps realise everyone’s potential – and that powers our economy, strengthens society and increases fairness.

See how we’re achieving this through our Outcome Delivery Plan.

Specific examples of our equality analysis:

Equality and diversity within DfE

DfE has developed and published a 5-year strategy to create an environment where everyone is able to bring their whole self to work and where honesty, challenge and innovation are encouraged and valued.

We aim to set an example as an equal opportunities employer. We strive to make sure that our workplace is attractive to people from all backgrounds. A diverse and representative workforce enables us to deliver our business objectives.

Workforce breakdown: DfE equality workforce data, December 2018 to December 2020

Dec 2018 Dec 2019 Dec 2020
Whole workforce Black and minority ethnic 18.1% 19.1% 19.3%
  Women 57.7% 57.7% 58.0%
  Disabled 14.4% 14.5% 10.8%
  LGBO 6.1% 6.5% 7.1%
Headcount   6377 7014 7527
Senior civil servants Black and minority ethnic 4.9% 6.8% 9.2%
  Women 58.6% 56.3% 54.4%
  Disabled 12.0% 13.7% 9.6%
  LGBO 5.9% 6.4% 6.8%
Headcount   227 238 253

Source: HR System, February 2021.

Table shows the percentage of employees paid through DfE payroll who have declared their ethnicity, disability status and sexual orientation.

Wellbeing and mental health support within DfE

The health and wellbeing of DfE colleagues is a key priority.

We follow the thriving at work standards to support all DfE employees and report on our results. We have also:

  • published a DfE wellbeing strategy which outlines how colleagues can take care of themselves and their colleagues
  • developed a wellbeing action plan to support staff throughout the winter and into spring
  • trained over 200 Mental Health First Aiders across the department
  • signed up to Mind’s mental health at work commitment to work towards best practice in mental health and wellbeing

DfE staff networks

Our internal support networks help us create an inclusive and diverse work environment for DfE employees.

Our core staff support networks include:

  • 50+
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)
  • Carers
  • Departmental Disability Group
  • EU Nationals
  • Interfaith
  • LGBT+
  • Neurodivergence
  • Parents
  • Social Mobility
  • Women’s