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Identify the current legislation and codes of practice relevant to the promotion of equality and valuing of diversity. There are several current pieces of legislation relating to equality and diversity, including • UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (see……) • Every Child Matters • Children’s Act 1989 • Children’s Act 2004 • Human Rights Act 1998 The most recent act is the Equality Act 2010. Previous to this, equality legislation in this country was somewhat fragmented.
The purpose of the new act was to harmonise and strengthen all previous equality legislation (eg The Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, Disability Discrimination Act 1995). It sought to promote equality, by clarifying the definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment. It identified nine groups of people to be protected from discrimination, referred to as ‘protected characteristics’. These are: • Age • Disability (both physical and mental) • Gender reassignment • Marriage and civil partnership Pregnancy and maternity (pregnant women, women on maternity leave, and breast feeding women) • Race (not just colour, but also nationality, ethnic or national origin) • Religion and belief (including those with lack of belief ie Atheists) • Sex •
Sexual orientation It states that there is a public duty to eliminate harassment (“unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or which is hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive”), discrimination and victimisation “treating someone unfavourably because they have taken or ight take action under the Equality Act, or supporting someone else to do this”). It calls on public bodies (including schools) to advance equal opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not, and to foster good relationships between people of all characteristics. It defines discrimination as treating an individual less favourably than you treat another person because of a protected characteristic (eg. not allowing Muslim girls at school to wear the hijab) It includes failure to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people as discrimination (eg: not providing wheelchair access into a building).
It also makes the distinction between direct and indirect discrimination, as the explained in the example below: • Direct discrimination: A school does not allow its Jewish pupils to attend basket ball practice after school. • Indirect discrimination: A school with a large proportion of Jewish pupils only has basketball practice on a Friday evening after school, even though it could have it on any night of the week. This is likely to exclude the Jewish pupils, as they may have a religious obligation to observe the Sabbath on a Friday night. Under the Equality Act 2010, both direct and indirect discrimination are unlawful. . 5 Describe how to challenge discrimination. Discrimination should always be tackled. However this should be done in a positive, gentle way, invoking empathy, and by replacing myths with knowledge. Laying blame and ignoring the issue are not helpful. A diplomatic, sensitive and unbiased approach using a reasoned argument is most effective. Scenario You overhear a group of Year 2 pupils calling a group of their Asian classmates “dirty Pakis”.
Approach • Although you might be quite shocked and offended by this, it is important not to show it. Ask the first group if they know what a “Paki” is. • Ask them if they know what country the Asian children are from • Dispel the myth by explaining that the Asian children are from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka • Ask them if they think that “Paki” is a nice word to use, and why • Ask both parties to take part in a ‘restorative justice’ meeting • Later in class, give a brief history of the ancestry of the UK • Place a map on the wall, and ask all the children to place their photograph on the country that their family originates from. In the next class assembly, invite all the children to share something of their own culture or heritage (eg a song, story, dance or food) The above approach is much more likely to have a long lasting and more positive outcome, than by simply punishing the students for being ‘ignorant and rude’ or by just ignoring the incident and dismissing it as ‘playground banter’.