Equality and Diversity As a Key Approach to Policy and Working Practices
An essay demonstrates an understanding of equality and diversity as a key approach to policy and working practices within children’s and young people’s services
In this assignment the learner will be demonstrating an understanding of equality and diversity as a key approach to working with children and young people’s services. Equality refers to the fairness of individuals in society enabling everyone the same rights regardless of their family background, lifestyle and appearance. Diversity is a phrase used to describe individuals who are different (Office of Public Sector Information, 2006). The word different refers to race, ethnicity, gender, socio economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs and political beliefs.
Equality and diversity are a key approach in the learner’s provision as there are specific policies and procedures which all employees must follow in order to achieve equal rights for all in the setting. The characteristics of equality and diversity are important for all employees in workforces to be familiar with for achieving an equal and diverse workplace where all individuals feel included and accepted regardless of their differences. It is important for workplaces, including early years settings, to promote equality and diversity as society is becoming increasingly diverse and individuals should be able to respond appropriately to meet everyone’s needs.
A statutory guidance which promotes equality and diversity in organisations which work with children who have special education needs and disabilities is the SEND Code of Practice 2015. This guidance explains that authorities must involve all parties involved in a child’s life so that can have a say in what happens and so that they are briefed as to what is currently happening and what the next steps are regarding the child’s provision and the support they are receiving (Schoolleaders). This guidance also ensures that all children are granted the same rights regardless of the needs and disabilities and the parents of the children should also be included in discussions such as workshops, meetings along with other parents.
The rights of all children are stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989. This agreement applies to all children across the world and covers all aspects of the child’s life. It states all children are entitled to the same rights as one another regardless of their background, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status (Gov.uk). The UNCRC 1989, grants all children a thorough set of rights, till the age of 17, setting out a guidance for how adults and governments must work to make sure all children have access to all these rights and none of these rights are taken away from a single child. The general principles listed in the UNCRC are crucial in meeting children’s needs from their basic ‘survival rights’ to their ‘participation rights’ which refer to the children’s freedom of speech in expressing their opinions. The ‘developmental rights’ are paramount in educational provisions as these set out the basis for children having a right to education which includes aspects such as play, leisure, cultural activities, access to information and freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Children’s rights).
Discrimination is an act of treating someone less favourably in comparison to others because their family belongs to a group in society, the word refers to someone’s faith, belief, culture or language. The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination and gives individuals the right to challenge discriminatory practice if they feel like they are victims (SCIE). It is important for professionals to stop discrimination from an early age and to promote equality in provisions as the way in which children are treated from an early age affects them in their later life through developing a positive self-image, which helps them to maximise their potential later on in life. Discriminatory practice can occur in early years provisions where a child from a minority group may come into the setting and the child is made to feel different as though they do not belong or are not good enough because of who they are and of their background (mentallyhealthyschools, 2018).
The Equality Act replaced the anti-discrimination laws and contains protected characteristics which cover age, disability, race and religion and race. (SCIE) Stereotypes are seen to be as a result of discrimination, the way a group of people are portrayed in society based on assumptions, patronising, humiliating people and prejudice, which is an unreasonable judgement, not based on facts. Stereotyping is the belief or fixed image which people have about a thing or group of people which is based upon how they look on the outside, which may be untrue or partly true and can also be seen as characterising members of a group in a particular manner. Stereotypes are commonly originated in the media and from a lack of support in the media for certain groups.
Human Rights Act 1998 covers all entities, protecting them and granting them the fairness of dignity and respect, ensuring no individual is discriminated against. It ensures all individuals have the freedom of thought, religion and belief. The Human Rights Act gives individuals the right to an education stating no child can be prevented from having an education (Libertyhumansright). The Human Rights Act safeguards children from any harm they are facing in any setting whether this be at nursery, school or at home (Johnson Astills). The Human Rights Act is one act for equal rights which works alongside other policies in order to ensure fairness and to prevent discrimination in provisions. It is mainly important for professionals in early years settings to follow these policies as children pick up behaviours from a early age, so by preventing discrimination from an early age then children will be accepting when they are older.
Practitioners role As a result it is important for settings to treat children equally as by doing so practitioners are moulding children to also treat their peers equally. If a practitioner was to discriminate against a child because the child was from a specific group, then the other children in the setting would pick up on this and then also start treating the child unequal to other children. This would affect the child as a whole as the child, when older, would have a negative attitude towards people and would also affect the child who is diverse as they would have a low self-esteem and other confidence issues, would feel left out and would feel unaccepted in society because of who they are. As a result of this occurring settings are required to hold policies regarding equality and diversity to ensure all children are treated equally and if practitioners or even children are found to be going against these policies then procedures are also in place to ensure the right action is taken against these individuals who are not abiding by the policies.
In order to ensure that individuals are following the policies and that policies and procedures are not being breached settings have a monitoring process in place in order to ensure there is not any discrimination taking place. It is the obligation of the provision in order to ensure that policies are being implemented and are being practiced in the setting, therefore through settings monitoring they are able to report any incidents to the relevant authorities so that action is taken against the individuals who breach the policies. Through monitoring policies and procedures in regards to equality and diversity, it is important for these policies to be reviewed as by not reviewing them there may be gaps for improvement which appear after the policies were written up as situations, staffing and children change regularly therefore by reviewing regularly ensures the policies cover all areas of the setting and cater for all individuals in the provision.
Potential barriers to progress for individuals. Individuals learn to discriminate negatively from a young age therefore it is important for practitioners to display positive behaviour and attitudes towards all individuals (Lindon, 2006, p.18). Some children notice differences from young and to overcome this, society must ensure that they treat individuals equally and do not discriminate, this solely is based on practitioners modelling positive behaviour and attitudes for children from different groups, backgrounds, race and religion and accepting children for who they decide they want to be.
- Mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk. (2018). Discrimination : Mentally Healthy Schools. [online] Available at: https://www.mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk/risks-and-protective-factors/vulnerable-children/discrimination/ [Accessed 7 Mar. 2020].
- Brighton.ac.uk. (2014). Policies, strategies and objectives. [online] Available at: https://www.brighton.ac.uk/about-us/your-university/equality/policies-strategies-and-objectives.aspx [Accessed 7 Mar. 2020].
- Vanderbilt University. (2020). Unconscious Bias. [online] Available at: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/diversity/unconscious-bias/https://www.vanderbilt.edu/diversity/unconscious-bias/ [Accessed 21 Feb. 2020].
- Mcleod, S. (2019). Social Identity Theory | Simply Psychology. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html [Accessed 21 Feb. 2020].
- David L, ‘Social Identity Theory (Tajfel, Turner),’ in Learning Theories, December 15, 2015, https://www.learning-theories.com/social-identity-theory-tajfel-turner.html.
- Devarakonda, C. (2013). Diversity & inclusion in early childhood. California: SAGE Publications, p.6.
- 2020. TDA 2.4 Equality, Diversity & Inclusion In Work With Children & Young People. [ebook] pp.54-56. Available at: [Accessed 2 April 2020]. (TDA 2.4 Equality, diversity & inclusion in work with children & young people, 2020)