Section 51: Local education authorities and education authorities
194.Section 51 makes unlawful discrimination by Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in England and Wales, and Education Authorities in Scotland, except in the areas listed in subsections (2), (England and Wales) and (3) (Scotland), namely:
The provision of schools – section 14 of the Education Act 1996 (and, for Scotland, section 17 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) defines the LEA function of providing primary and secondary schools for children in a given catchment area. Section 51, subsection (2)(a)((3)(a) for Scotland) allows discrimination in this area, to prevent an LEA being bound to provide schools for pupils of different faiths, or of no faith, in the catchment area.
Transport – LEAs often provide subsidised transport for pupils of a particular (often faith) school that is located outside the local area although it is not the nearest suitable school. This may be because a parent wishes a child to attend a school of their own faith, or because the nearest school has a religious ethos which a parent thinks is inappropriate for their child. Subsection (2)(b) ((3)(b) for Scotland) allows discrimination in this area so that LEAs do not have to provide subsidised transport for all children attending faith or non-faith schools.
General responsibilities – section 13 of the Education Act 1996 (and equivalent provision in legislation for education in Scotland) describes the responsibilities incumbent on LEAs to contribute to the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of the community through their provision of education to children. Section 51, subsection (2)(c) ((3)(c) for Scotland) allows discrimination in the exercise of these responsibilities in so far as they relate to the two previous points: provision of schools and transport.
195.Subsection (2)(d)((3)(e) for Scotland) refers to the Table featured in section 49. It means that section 51(1) does not apply to discrimination by LEAs and EAs in the exercising of their specific functions as responsible bodies for the educational establishments listed in the Table, as section 50 covers them in that respect.