• The importance of equality of educational opportunity
• Challenging stereotypical views
• The inclusive learning environment
Within schools it is mandatory that they demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion. They aim to eradicate stereotypes in our ever progressing and diverse society, allowing children to form a better sense of self and develop with little prejudice. As a result schools aim to educate and produce upstanding citizens who have the ability to form own opinions of society and tolerances. “The DCSF published Guidance on the duty to promote community cohesion in July 2007, which set out broadly how schools could contribute towards promoting community cohesion under three broad areas of: teaching, learning and curriculum; equity and excellence; and engagement and extended services.” (DCFS, 2008)
We can respond to pupils’ diverse needs by setting high expectations for girls and boys. During my exemplar visits to Highfield St Matthews and St Philip Westbrook I saw no evidence of any discrimination between genders. Both schools promoted cultural diversity through the RE curriculum which encouraged children to respect and understand other world faiths. Teachers were also encouraged to discuss, share and celebrate their own culture. The diverse artwork at St Philips Westbrook shows strong links with South African culture juxtaposed with links to a school in Cumbria, resulting in the embedding of children’s understanding of our culture and those across the world.
What is School Diversity?
“We use the term School Diversity to describe the way in which the education system is structured to enable schools to differentiate themselves according to their individual ethos, special character and areas of specialist expertise” (DCFS, 2010)
At both of the exemplar visits; high expectations are standard by responding to pupils’ diverse needs in the inclusive classroom. These needs can be for special educational needs and pupils with disability. Schools and teachers need to plan so that all can take part fully and effectively in the lesson. Learning styles need to be differentiated to suit the needs of the children. At St Philips, pupils are aware of their own learning styles; this enabled the teacher to adapt the lessons to suit the child, although the teacher must be careful not to focus on one type of learning style which may be a disadvantage to others. Teachers need to vary subject content to help accommodate pupils’ diverse needs. In a literacy lesson the content was changed significantly to enable a child to work with a Teaching Assistant on his specific needs and targets.
We need to respond to pupils’ diverse needs as regards to their equality of educational opportunities. Both schools we visited had set high expectations for all races, gender and disability; these expectations are set by both the school and the class teacher by planning and monitoring work. It helps to build the pupils’ self esteem by setting attainable and challenging work and targets.
“We promote the principles of fairness and justice for all through the education we provide in our school. In accordance with our Christian ethos and School Mission Statement we respect the equal human rights of all our pupils’ and educate them about the equality.” (Highfield St Matthews Prospectus, 2009)
I currently work in an inner city school classified as ‘disadvantaged’. It is the school’s policy to be committed to the promotion of equal opportunities and inclusion for all individuals, irrespective of race, gender, disability and special educational needs and will positively pursue through pastoral support programmes and the curriculum. “The Trinity aims to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural,...