Equality and inclusive practice
Equality means being fair, respectful and recognising the individual needs and identities of all others. It also refers to the way we handle cases of prejudice and discrimination to ensure there is fairness in the process and outcome. Inclusivity recognises that every child is uniquely different and benefits from us all working together as a united community.
What does inclusive early years practice mean?
Inclusive early years practice is the development of positive attitudes, clear strategies and positive approaches towards equality within early years provision. It also means providing children with the best possible support during the fundamental years of their learning and growing so they can live a fulfilling and happy life both now and in the future.
Why is equality so important for our youngest children?
Inequality in the UK is growing yet we know from research that a fairer-and-more-equal-society benefits everyone and supports young children’s development, health, education. and well-being.
Children have the right to be included and any adverse attitudes and behaviour towards them addressed. These behaviours generally arise from a lack of understanding and fear by the offender. If this happens early on in life it can have a long-term impact on a child’s self esteem, confidence and trust of others.
Early years settings are well placed to provide a safe environment where parents, staff and children can learn about each other’s differences and similarities and learn to empathise and value each other early on in life. Equality means giving everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential and an equal chance to live their life as they choose. In young children this means giving these chances right from the very start in life and ensuring that they are not denied opportunities because of variables such as their sex or where they live.
Which individuals are most affected by inequality?
Specific individuals and groups may encounter systematic, attitudinal and physical barriers to equality because of their personal circumstances and characteristics. There is some legal protection against this inequality called prohibited conduct however, this is limited to nine defining elements called protected characteristics.
Despite this legal defence, some of these ‘protected’ individuals in the UK still face disadvantage and discriminated. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that:
- Nearly three-quarters of Bangladeshi children and half of Black African children grow up in poverty
- Boys and young men consistently under-perform at every level, from nursery to university
- Women earn significantly less than men for every hour they work
- Two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual students state that they have been bullied
- Disabled adults are three times as likely not to have qualifications.
How can settings promote equality?
The Alliance supports settings to be inclusive by:
- offering advice, support and training on inclusive practice
- producing publications, videos and downloadable resources
- leading as a voice for the sector to raise relevant issues to other voluntary organisations and government bodies
- encouraging reflection on practice through quality-improvement.
The Inclusion team is regularly asked a range of different questions about equality and inequality. To help answer your queries, we have created a sample of the most frequently asked questions and our answers below, relating to these various areas:
- Disability and special educational needs
- Sex and gender
- Race and ethnicity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy and maternity
For more information call us on 020 7697 2557.
Are you a local authority wanting advice, support and training on equality and inclusion for your early years settings?
Please either ring or email Inclusion Manager Nicky Gibson on 020 769 2557 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will be happy to offer you a list of the bespoke services we can provide.
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