Discuss an issue of inequality. Explain its importance to educators today. Consider ways in which schools respond to the chosen issue
Within this essay we will explore the relationship between understandings of race imbedded in the learning context and the lived experience of learners and practitioners. It emphasizes the need for collective commitment to engage with the dynamics of difference by taking into account the rapidly changing nature of the primary school workforce, the increasing diverse ethnic profile of our primary children and the reality of underachievement.
Framework of equality:
We begin by looking at five arguable musts for teaching under this subject, these include; The potential for the future;
Him/herself as a teacher and with his/her background;
The learners and their background;
The curriculum and its background;
The learning and it’s background;
Interaction with and between these aspects enables a learning environment in which teachers engage with, lead, manage and initiate change. Change is the key to running these principles, all teaching is about change. We can teach children to read, write, calculate and think at ever increasingly advanced levels. We change their social and economic skills so that they are better able to prosper responsible members of society. But, we change children in another way; we either prepare them to accept that some ethnic groups are more valued than others, or we prepare them to challenge this at every opportunity.
Principles for equality
The Runnymede Trust has published guiding principles which enable us to gain a more concrete understanding of this very complicated concept, while offering practical approaches to teachers planning (Runnymede Trust 2003). These principles, derived from the National Curriculum (DfEE 1999) and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act (HMSO 2000). These principles are as follows:
1. Prioritize equality of opportunity and access.
2. Ensure excellence for all.
3. Support the development of cultural and personal identities. 4. Prepare pupils for citizenship.
These principles are also reflected as integral parts of the Standards for Qualified Teacher Status (TDA 2006).
Our understandings of equality are formed in terms of our personal, professional and academic experiences. Classroom practitioners engage with the understandings coming from a range of sources, including national, local authority and school policies; theories; colleagues; local communities; the children and their families. The interaction of different understandings influences the manifestation of equality in the classroom. Teachers should lead the learning of the class. The leadership role includes taking responsibility for and to other adults who contribute to the learning context. A shared understanding of equality therefore should be an integral part of the learning climate.
Political understandings: government education policy
The most recent changes in educational policy have included a strong move towards closer professional liaison between agencies concerned with the welfare of children. This is explained in Every Child Matters, and the Workforce Reform Agenda (DfES 2003; TTA 2003; OfSTED 2005a). these polices have redefined the everyday structure of schools ensuring that everyone involved in child development is appropriately qualified and has a reasonable workload so that children may benefit from the best possible education. This redefinition means an evolving experience for primary pupils, who traditionally might only have seen one teacher throughout the day. Pupils may now be taught by various different people. Teaching assistants now have the opportunity to acquire professional qualifications which enable them to support classroom learning more effectively (DfE 1994, cited in Loxley and Swann 1998: 156). Other professionals from outside the school, such as educational psychologists, may...
Bibliography: Donald, J. and Rattansi, A. (eds.) (1992) 'Race ', Culture and Difference, London: Sage. 300 + ix pages. Excellent collection of readings. In section on antiracism see especially Rattansi.
SWANN REPORT(1985) ' A response from the Commission for Racial Equality ', CRE.
Runneymede Trust (2003) Complementing Teachers: A Practical Guide to Promoting Race Equality in Schools. London: Granada Learning.
DfEE (1999) All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education, London: DfEE.
Race Relations (Amendment) Act (HMSO 2000)
Teacher Development Agency (2006) Professional Standards for NQTs. http://www.tda.gov.uk
OfSTED (2005a) Remodelling the School Workforce: A Report from OfSTED
OfSTED (2005b) Race Equality in Education
DFE (1994) Better Choices, Working Together to Improve Careers Education and Guidance – The Principles DFE
Gaine, C. (2001) If it’s not hurting it’s not working: teaching teachers about race, Research Papers in Education, 16(1): 93-113
Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) (2006) How the CRE is Working towards a Fairer, More Integrated Britain.
DfES (2005) Ethnicity and Education: The Evidence on Minority Ethnic Pupils aged 5-16 RTPG01-01.
Department for Education and Skills (2002) The National Literacy Stategy: Supporting Pupils Learning English as an Additional Language. London: DfES
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