The UK is a diverse society, and Government policy reflects this. There are many pieces of legislation to support and encourage equality, diversity and inclusion when working with children and young people (for example: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ECM), as well as school policies (for example: Equal Opportunities, Inclusion) which those working within the school environment must follow. Due to these pieces of legislation and policies there has been a major shift in attitude toward children’s rights – not just their basic rights to life, health and education but also the right to play, express their views and participate in decisions that directly affect them.
AC 1.2 - A description of the importance of supporting the rights of all children and young people to participation and equality of access
The Oxford Dictionary definition of participation is ‘the action of taking part in something’, and it is very important that children are allowed to participate so that they feel included, respected, and are given a sense of self-worth. Equality of access is equally as important as every child needs to know that they are important, and have the same right to learning as their peers, regardless of their personal background, race, culture, gender, additional need or disability.
The Equality Act 2010 states that there are seven different types of discrimination:
* Direct discrimination * Associative discrimination * Indirect discrimination * Harassment * Harassment by third party * Victimisation * Discrimination by perception
Ignoring these guidelines would mean all children and young people were not being offered the same opportunities, therefore being discriminated against. It is important that schools have regular reviews of their policies, procedures and practices (for example, Inclusion and Equality policy) to make sure discrimination does not take place, and these reviews are also important as they help to raise achievement, promote self-identity and good relationships through the participation of all children and young people.
At school, all children and young people have the right to a broad and balanced curriculum, and again it is very important for participation and equality of access to be supported so that pupils are given a voice and feel that they are contributing to their own learning. It also allows them to feel valued as individuals, encourages independence, and when children participate in group activities it helps them learn how to interact with one other, whilst also sending out a positive message. Equal opportunities does not mean treating pupils the same, but ensuring that the curriculum meets the individual needs of all pupils. However, it is important for a child’s self-confidence that they are doing something similar to the rest of their classmates. For example, appropriate support may need to be given to a child with a disability to enable them to fully participate in an activity by adapting it to their needs, allowing that child access to learn. The same may need to be done if English isn’t a child’s first language as resources would need to be found on the topic to allow the child to take part in the lesson, even if their work is at a different level.
At Sporle C of E Primary School, a school council has been setup. Pupils are encouraged to give their ideas and opinions to their class representative, who then takes it to the head teacher, where the ideas are discussed. The pupil(s), as well as the representative, are then involved in the implementation of the idea if it is approved. This form of participation is valuable to all concerned as it promotes confidence in the children and they feel that their opinions are valued.
AC 1.3 – A description of the importance and benefits of valuing and promoting cultural diversity in work with children and young people
It is very important to value