Promoting positive diversity
Children flourish in environments that promote diversity, equality and inclusion but unfortunately inequality, discrimination and racism are issues that have been continually highlighted across the world, most recently in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a registered childcare professional, you are key to helping educate and support the next generation to not only celebrate our diverse society but protect them against discrimination, creating a fair environment where each child can progress.
Not only should equality and diversity be holistically interwoven throughout your daily practice, routines and activities, but it is your responsibility as a registered childcare provider to understand the issues and what you need to do to support equality, diversity and inclusion in your setting.
This spotlight will help you to reflect on your practice in regards to diversity and inclusion, giving you useful resources to help celebrate our differences and build positive diversity into your everyday practice.
Legislation and the statutory framework
The Equality Act 2010 brings together several areas of discrimination which are known as ‘protected characteristics. This includes age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion, belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
As a provider this means you need to ensure that you meet a number of requirements. In terms of diversity and inclusion this includes:
- Making sure your setting’s documentation reflects this Act and is understood by all parents carers and staff.
- Ensuring you create an inclusive environment.
- Being confident that your resources and planning promotes equality, diversity and inclusion.
Additionally, the early years foundation stage framework clearly states that it seeks to provide “equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported” and “providers must follow their legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 (3.58 in the EYFS). Equally the Foundation Phase curriculum in Wales “promotes equality of opportunity and values, and celebrates diversity.”
PACEY members can access the equal opportunities fact sheet and reflective task in MyPACEY.
Support for parents and practitioners
It is never too late to start talking about diversity in your setting and with parents. It should be actively encouraged both in your setting and at home to understand each other’s differences and celebrate our history and cultures.
For parents, it can be even more challenging to start that conversation but it's important to remember that not only will this start to stimulate change but it is an integral part of a child’s emotional wellbeing and mental health throughout their lives. There are a number of useful resources that you can access and share with parents which we have listed below.
Talking to children - resources and support
Behavioural scientist and diversity consultant Dr Pragya Agarwal and entrepreneur and blogger Freddie Harrel shared their personal experiences and tips on ‘How to talk to your children about race and racism’ as part of Womans Hour on BBC. You can also listen to the podcast which is available here.
Embrace Race are a multiracial community dedicated to sharing and developing best practices for raising and caring for children. The EmbraceRace website offers practitioners with a lot of resources such as action guides on a range of topics including 10 tips for teaching and talking to children about race which you can access here.
Stonewall, who work with the LGBT communities, have produced a guide specifically for the early years after seeing how practitioners are recognising more and more the importance of creating an environment that celebrates differences. Their guide draws on this experience and provides practical ideas and reflections to support you to challenge gender stereotypes.
Amnesty international have a really useful handbook (available in English and Welsh), designed to support teachers to introduce human rights and support mental health. Aimed at supporting children aged 3-5, it’s the perfect starting point to engage children in discussion and raise awareness of their own rights in a fun and interactive way.
Mattel and Laura Henry-Allain have also teamed up and produced a useful guide called 'Supporting you to raise anti racist children' that is aimed at parents. It provides parents with information and tips on how you can address the issues with your children at each age and stage and advice on how to do this.
Finally, PACEY also has a range of information to support early years and childcare professionals to create an inclusive setting including:
Useful resources for settings
Of course, as part of promoting positive diversity in your setting, it’s important to make sure that you have the right inclusive resources to share with children.
Books are a fantastic resource. There are a huge number of options out there for children of all ages, but it can be hard to know where to look. We have listed a few options to get you started which will help children of all cultures to see themselves within a story and to understand other cultures.
Tamarind is part of the Puffin and Ladybird family whose aim is to champion diversity in children’s publishing. They have a useful reading list full of suggested books for all ages, some of which we have pictured below.
Brightly is a lovely resource to find tips, advice, book recommendations, videos and more to keep children connected to books through every age and stage of life. One of their areas of discussion is activism and teaching children about what it means to stand up for our rights. You can take a look at their blog recommending books about activism that are suitable for children.
Letterbox Library is the leading children’s bookseller and educational supplier bringing the best in inclusive children’s books to you. They offer books on all sorts of themes including LGBT, black history, gender equality, disability and activism. As a not-for-profit social enterprise there is a small £5 yearly membership fee to access the full site and discounts.
Don’t forget to take advantage of online videos and early years activities as well. Why not take a look at JoJo and Gran Gran, the first British animation from CBeebies that centres around a black family. Written by Laura Henry-Allain and originally a book series, the new CBeebies show features the adventures of JoJo and her Gran Gran living in a multigenerational community and connecting with their friends and neighbours.