Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector 7304 Unit One: Equality and Diversity Theory Assessment Rationale In today’s ever changing, diverse and multicultural society, it can create many challenges for teachers in the lifelong learning sector, as well as individuals, groups and employers. As an optional unit for the Certificate in Lifelong Learning Sector, I was required to research aspects of Equality and Diversity through a practical and theory assessment. This was done through individual work.
Examination of this topic would allow me to think about the way in which I teach my students, be able to incorporate the ideas and illustrate the process of teaching and learning using these inclusive methods. Equality allows all students the right to have access to and participate in education regardless of their disability or other circumstances. Gravells (2008) believes that ‘Inequality and discrimination should be tacked to ensure fairness, decency and respect among learners. ’ Diversity, as Gravells (2008) suggests is ‘… bout valuing and respecting the differences in learners, regardless of ability and/or circumstances, or any other individual characteristics the may have. ’ Diversity can add substance to a tutors teaching by them incorporating learners diverse experiences into their sessions. Using students experiences as a teaching resource can encourage students to overcome their stereotypes and enable them to recognise other diverse backgrounds. This can also help promote a positive environment for all students.
Due to working with adults with learning disabilities, it is essential that as a tutor I promote a positive and inclusive learning environment where I ensure students diversity is celebrated. If as a tutor, I am able to recognise the diversity of my students and embrace it, I can lead by example and promote an inclusive environment. This positive example can encourage other students or colleagues to respect individuals differences and that their input and ideas are valued.
This can create a positive learning experience for all students and allow for better working relationships and help improve students performance as they feel motivated and included. Implementing equality and diversity within teaching can protect people from harm as as a tutor you can lead by example and ensure students value each others differences rather than discriminate because of those differences.
Petty (2004) believes ‘You will have considerable influence on students who respect and admire you. ’ All organisations or learning institutions have policies in place to promote equality and diversity as well as reducing or eliminating discrimination. I work for South Tyneside Council and they are committed to being an equal opportunities authority. Their web site southtyneside. nfo (2009) states that ‘We are absolutely committed to delivering excellence and our approach to equality and diversity is built on the principle of ‘fair for all, personal to each’ The council strives for an environment where one does not experience discrimination or disadvantage because of their age, gender, race, disability, faith or belief or sexual orientation. To ensure this happens, they have a comprehensive approach to carrying out equality checks, also known as Equality Impact Assessments. Gravells (2008) believes that ‘Being different can mean being disadvantaged or discriminated against. Discrimination can often occur in a learning environment. Dictionary. com (2009) defines discrimination as ‘Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice’. Discrimination can take many forms, it can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination tends to be obvious discrimination where a person is less favourably treated because of their race, sex, marital status, religion, sexual orientation or gender reassignment. Indirect discrimination occurs where the effect of certain requirements, conditions or practices imposed by the learning environment has an adverse mpact disproportionately on one group or other. Discrimination and inequality can have a damaging effect on individual students, communities and on society. Discrimination within a classroom can often create a feeling of inequality and inferiority with other students, as well as fear of a learning environment and anger. Students who are being discriminated against will often feel inferior to other students as they are not getting the best out of their learning experience and are not being treated as equals. This will often cause anger for the student as their learning needs are not being met.
As stated in South Tyneside’s Personnel Manual ‘Harassment and bullying can destroy self-confidence and create harmful stress. It is unwanted behaviour, which affects the dignity of both men and women. Tomlinson (1996) believes that ‘The aim is not for students to simply take part in further education but to be actively included and fully engaged in their learning. ’ Taking this approach will promote an inclusive learning environment and help reduce barriers and attempt to change attitudes and adverse behaviour within a classroom session.
There is an extensive amount of legislation, policies and procedures and codes of practice relating to the promotion of equality and valuing of diversity. As direct. gov identifies, the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. It now gives disabled people rights in areas such as employment, access to goods, facilities and services and specifically education. In 2002 the act was extended to education giving rights to disabled students. This ensured that learning environments did not treat disabled students less favourably than other students for reasons related to their disability.
From 2005, under the Disability Discrimination Act, organisations have had to make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of the building to overcome any physical barriers to access that a student may come across. Further to the Disability Discrimination Act was the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (2001) which amended the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) to make unjustified discrimination by education providers against disabled pupils, students and adult learners unlawful. On October 1st 2007, the Equality and Human Rights Commission was put into orce. The aim of the commission is to end discrimination and harassment of people because of their disability, age, religion or belief, race, gender, or sexual orientation. This commission bring together the work of Disability Rights Commission, Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission. This commission will help tackle discrimination in many areas, such as learning environments and promote awareness of equality issues. There are many areas of the Employment Equality Regulations.
These include Age (2006), Religion or Belief (2003) and Sexual Orientation (2003). In the various areas of these regulations it makes it illegal to directly or indirectly discriminate against a person because of their age, religion of beliefs and the sexual orientation. Consequently, the legislation means that learning institutions cannot refuse access to learning or training because of a students/employees age, religion/beliefs or sexual orientation and must protect the students and employees from bullying or harassment.
Many organisations have policies or codes of practice with regards to equality and diversity. As an example, I am going to refer to South Tyneside Council’s policies. South Tyneside Council have identified that ‘ Our aim has been and remains to build equality into all of our day to day work, policy making, service delivery and employment practice. In essence, to take account of equality and diversity in everything we do. ’ (www. southtyneside. info). In their Equality and Diversity in Employment Policy, South Tyneside Council also identify that they will take ‘… ppropriate action to eliminate unlawful direct and indirect discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. ’ Demonstrating appropriate communication and behaviour can support equality and diversity in the classroom. In a learning environment, students should always be at the centre of everything that takes place. This is known as a learner-centred approach or an andragogical approach (Knowles, 1978) which gives learners control. Giving students control in the classroom can support equality as it includes different learners from various and diverse backgrounds.
Even before a leaning experience has taken place, a tutor can support equality. This is due to carrying out an initial assessment, as identifying a students needs within or outside a classroom can help remove any barriers that a student may come across. Gravells (2008) believes that ‘Learners will feel much more confident about disclosure from the beginning if they feel that the organisation as a whole has a positive and supportive attitude towards anyone who has additional needs.
In order to support equality and diversity, a tutor needs to be able to deal with any issues of bullying, discrimination or harassment in the classroom in a quick and effective manner. A tutor needs to be aware of the policies and procedures of their organisation to deal with any complaints properly. If any issues or inappropriate behaviour arise within the classroom it is essential that a tutor deals with it quickly and firmly and they be consistent in their approach.