Discuss issues of equality and diversity and ways to promote inclusion with your learners. Review other points of referral available to meet the potential needs of learners.
Understanding and actively addressing issues of equality and diversity enables teachers to provide the optimum environment for effective teaching and learning. Issues of equality and diversity go hand-in-hand providing their characteristics are understood and promoted positively.
Awarding Bodies and Ofsted expect teachers and training providers to be proactive in ensuring equality and diversity in all aspects of teaching and learning and to promote this in relation to the six areas identified in the recent Equality Act (2010): age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief and sexual orientation.
Equality is concerned with legal rights and obligations that protect individuals and groups from discrimination, all of which have been strengthened through this recent legislation. In terms of teaching, entitlement to all learning opportunities, free from discrimination is a good starting point for this discussion.
Diversity is about respecting individual differences - difference that are both visible and invisible. It embraces equality by emphasising the value of being able to harness a greater range and collection of experience, challenging assumptions which may be held. about the diverse nature of age, disability, race, religious belief, sexuality, or gender. Promoting equality and diversity with learners should be addressed at the beginning of the teaching / learning cycle and maintained throughout its different stages. It should also be promoted and addressed with and by employers, colleagues and the learning environment. Teachers have a duty and responsibility to ensure their own behaviour acts as a role model for others in the learning environment and should always “challenge any direct or indirect discrimination, stereotyping, prejudice, harassment, bullying and biased attitudes by yourself or other learners”. Gravells (P. 47).
Promoting inclusion with learners should be incorporated in all Schemes of Work and Session Plans. It should be addressed openly as part of the individual learning plan and as part of the activities organised to develop group aims and ground rules. Addressing the rights and responsibilities towards the other learners and the teacher should be part of agreeing the ground rules. This provides the teacher with the opportunity to promote a learning environment that encourages the learners to feel equal and reassured that their contribution will be valued without fear of ridicule or value judgement.
It is also important for the teacher to understand and consider the motivation of individuals attending sessions and how different agendas might impact on the group or their own individual learning needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need (1954) provides a really useful means for understanding and responding to the motivation of learners. His model divides needs into 5 different levels. Gravells (P. 36) interprets these levels in educational terms, as follows: First Level Needs: “Physiological - is the learning environment comfortable. Am I hungry, thirsty, tired, cold. Second Level Needs: “Safety / security am I at danger while learning? Am I worried about anything? Third Level Needs: “Recognition –Do I belong here. Do others respect me? Fourth Level Needs: “Self-esteem - Am I learning something useful? Fifth (top) Level Needs: “Self-actualisation - I am achieving what I wanted to.
Maslow’s theory suggests that once learners needs have been satisfied at one level they are likely to feel motivated to move on to the next level. Should they receive a set back to the former level they have now experienced progress and should therefore feel confident in being able ‘move on’ again. Some learners may not aspire to achieve all 5 levels and might achieve a...