Issues of Equality and Diversity

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.

Equality is defined by Gravells (2008) as ensuring the rights of learners to be able to attend and participate in activities, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnic origin or disability.

Equality relates to opportunity for all, and this needs to be met across a number of levels. Firstly, we can consider equality on a physical level, ensuring that all learners have access to the learning environment. This means ensuring that disability is not a barrier to access and that the learning environment is adjusted as far as is reasonably possible. Secondly, we can consider the social issues of equality. This means open opportunities for all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion and so on. We must ensure that the group as a whole respects any restrictions, such as prayer time and crèche times, by promoting understanding and respect – a good ground rule to put in place at the outset. Thirdly, we can consider equality within learning, ensuring that all learners are appropriately assessed so that any support needs are met.

Diversity is, according to Gravells, about valuing the differences in people, whether those differences relate to age, gender, disability etc., or any other individual characteristics learners might have.

Having a diverse group of learners means recognizing that everyone is unique in their own way. Their differences could consist of their reading level, athletic ability, cultural background, personality, religious beliefs, and so on. As our society becomes more diverse, it is important that learners learn to value and use diversity to the greater good.

Miller and Katz (2002) present a common definition of inclusion: “Inclusion is a sense of belonging, feeling respected, valued for who you are, feeling a level of supportive energy...