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Equality and Diversity Essay

In this assignment I will demonstrate my understanding of equality and diversity as a key approach to policy and practice within my setting. I will make reference to current legislation such as equal pay act, disability discrimination act, sex discrimination act and equality act. Other areas of discriminatory practice I will discuss are language and terminology, stereotyping and attitudes in relation to children and young people. I will explore anti discriminatory practice and diversity that is within the everyday role of the early years practitioners. I will also explore an area of my practice using my understanding of equality and diversity through an audit of provision to develop practice and outline any issues. The audit I will carry out will specifically be aimed to support children with additional needs within my setting. I will look into staffing, the environment and the funding available. Following completion of the audit I will write a report identifying any concerns and making recommendations to enhance the experiences that children with additional needs will gain from the setting.

I am going to demonstrate my understanding of equality and diversity and how it affects the policy and practice in my setting. I will make reference to current legislation to support my discussion. Legislation I will refer to includes: Equality Act 2010, Human Rights Act (1998), Employment Equality Act Regulations (2003), SEN and disability Act (2001/2), Race Relations Act (1976), Sex discrimination Act (1975) and the Warnock report (2005). I will discuss areas of discrimination in early years practice like, language and terminology, prejudice and stereotypical images and attitudes in relation to children and young people. I will also explore anti discriminatory practice and the diversity in early years settings.

The legislation I am going to discuss has been incorporated into my setting by using the essential information in the policies and procedures. The policies and procedures are given to all employees upon recruitment so all staff are aware of the laws and regulations they have to work to. Richardson, R (2011) it is the requirement of the public sector equality duty that equalities is a due regard for schools. Schools are required to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and encourage good relations. The equality act is used in the equality and diversity policy in my setting. OFSTED also look for equality in the setting looking for the progress of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development in the development of the children attending the setting. It is also important that the setting do not discriminate against the nine protected characteristics that are outlined in the equality act 2010.

It is important for all children accessing the setting to have access to the curriculum which is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). As a setting we ensured that all the children wishes, preferences and beliefs are taken into account as children learn more effectively when they feel safe and secure. The setting intervenes and provides additional support to those children who are not developing and progressing. The planning process also includes the support needed for any children with additional needs. Garside, R (2011). The sex discrimination act 1975 works to eliminate the discrimination against men and women and promote the equal opportunities for both men and women. This act is evident with the children in the setting as they all have equal opportunities in their unit, the same access to toys, activities the outdoor areas.

We do not stop girls from playing with cars and boys playing with dolls, they require equal opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills they require in life. The SEN and disability act 2001/2 is an amendment of the education act 1996. The act is there to prevent discrimination against children with SEN or a disability in school and ensures them an education in mainstream school unless the parents request otherwise or it is incompatible with the education of the other children. This is seen in my setting as we are a nursery that accepts children with additional needs unless we feel that we cannot meet those children’s needs without unrealistic changes to the setting.

The setting currently has children with Autism, global learning delay, speech and language disorders and chromosome 16 disorder as well as other children with undiagnosed additional needs. The Warnock report 2005 focuses on the future of education and inclusion into mainstream schools. The Warnock report changed the way that we see children with disabilities and encouraged inclusive education, however now inclusive education is favoured the SEN school system is become devalued despite the work they do for the children they care for. My setting is a inclusive setting for children with additional needs and we support the development of the children and the preferences of the children.

Within the early years education system discrimination can occur, it is an aim of my setting to prevent and reduce discrimination, they do this using the policies and procedures and regularly sending staff on training courses to gain knowledge of current legislation and procedures. Prejudice and stereotyping are often seen in education settings because of the high number of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and the lack of understanding and knowledge that children and young people have.

Stereotypes tend to originate from the media of what is seen as ‘cool’, the media also labels certain groups as not being as important as others and can cause children with disabilities isolating themselves from the rest of the group. Judgments can also cause discrimination as people can make poor judgements of people and discriminate against their good qualities just because they are in a wheelchair or have ADHD doesn’t mean they can’t play the same games as the other children they just may need more support than the others.

In early years setting we use policies and procedures to outline the government legislation, we do not simply publish the legislation because of the way they are presented and the terminology they are written in. The policies and procedures are designed around the legislation in a way that are easily understandable for the staff and parents/carers using the setting. We make sure that the policies and procedures are accessible for all parents/ carers and staff.

It is no longer acceptable to base an education programme on the stereotype of emotional behaviour being feminine, artistic and marginalised and rationale behaviour as masculine, logical and mainstream (Yelland, N 1998). It is important to give all children equal opportunities and allow boys and girls access to all resources and activities whether that be the girls playing with the cars and the boys playing with the dolls or both genders playing outside on the slides and bikes, this is all available in the work setting. Stereotyping can be offensive and cause biased thinking and actions, the tasks set in education programmes could favour groups depending on their culture and previous education (Frederickson, N and Cline, T 2009).

As early years settings are examples of anti discriminatory practice and diversity through the early years foundation stage practitioners can provide a programme for the children that meets all their needs, wishes and preferences in learning and development. Stereotypes leading to discrimination through the exchanging of humorous stories can reinforce negative perceptions and group boundaries, this discrimination may be seen between the staff which will give them negative attitudes towards groups of children and parents. In my setting the staff work closely with the early years foundation stage and attend training courses which prevent this from happening.

Often no cure is possible for disabilities. However, medically, disabilities were diagnosed, managed and treated. This was challenged by the children’s parents who said they were seen as medical cases rather than individual children. The social model focuses on the children as an individual and highlights social difficulties they may have as a result of their specific disability. The social model respects the needs, wishes and preferences of the individual child when it comes to medication and treatment. In early years there needs to be a good balance of the two models for children with SEN. Without the medical model we would have no knowledge of any causes of management systems that could be used with the children to help them develop and without the social model we would not be meeting the children’s individual needs.

Through this essay I have demonstrated my understanding of equality and diversity and how it affects the policy and practice in my setting. I have made reference to current legislation to support my discussion. Legislation I have referred to includes Equality act (2010), Human rights act, Employment equality act, SEN and disability act, Race relations act, Sex discrimination act and the Warnock report. I have discussed areas of discrimination in the early years practice like language and terminology, stereotyping and anti discriminatory practice and the diversity in early years settings.

I completed the audit after a meeting in the setting where I was informed of the parent wanting to start in the setting, a discussion was held about how we were unaware of the disorder and didn’t know anything about it. I chose to do the audit here because it was a great opportunity to highlight areas we needed to change or adapt to meet the needs of the child and his family. It was important for us to make the setting accessible for this child because Pugh, G (2010) says it was the focus of the children act (2006) for integration of all services for children with special educational needs (SEN), which supports the aim the best start for children.

After the parent was shown around the setting and she told us she wanted her child to attend, a discussion was held between mum, the manager and the SENCO. It came from the discussion that mum wanted the child to start in the preschool unit as he would soon be 3, although his developmental age was much younger. As we did not want to go against mum’s wishes and preferences we made substantial changes to the preschool unit, with the support of the EYP and external agencies we made the preschool unit a suitable environment for the child. Mum was very nervous about leaving her child so the SENCO who was to be the child’s key person started home visits to see the child and talk the mother about his needs. The child then started a long transition into the setting lasting a month and a half. The changes made to the preschool unit incorporated the needs of the child well and after several weeks attending the setting he is getting on well, the SENCO is assessing him constantly to make sure that he his developing and progressing well and has just took on board teaching herself makaton to communicate more effectively with the child.

From doing this audit I have found that the staff in the setting work well to the standards set out in the policies and procedures. The extended transition period used with the child also helped the parent to come to terms with leaving her child with somebody else, this could be something that could be incorporated throughout the setting and we could make the transition period more flexible for all children coming into the setting. I have also found that the setting not only works together as a team but with work with others like parents and external agencies to create a partnership to help the child. A set back that we came across was researching the disorder, as it is so rare and varies considerably between each sufferer it was hard to find much information, we had to go on the information that mum gave us to create a suitable environment and provide for the child to help him develop and progress, I would recommend regular assessments to identify the gaps in his development so that the setting can provide for these and he can progress ready for school.

In this assignment I have demonstrated my understanding of equality and diversity as a key approach to policy and practice in my setting. I have made reference to current legislation that has been used to compose policies and procedures in my setting. I have discussed areas of discriminatory practice that relate to children and young people and I have explored the anti discriminatory practice and diversity within the everyday role of practitioners working in early years settings. I have explored an area of my practice using an audit of provision and my understanding of equality and diversity. This was done to develop practice in my setting for children with additional needs. I observed and evaluated the staffing, environment and available funding. Through a report I made recommendations of how the setting can develop practice to support the children attending with additional needs.


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