Diversity, in general, means a mix of ideas, cultures, races, genders, economic statuses and other various factors that differentiate one person from another.
In the classroom, children can bring their own set of culturally based values and abilities. To be able to from positive self-concepts, children must respect other diverse groups around them and vice versa. If children are lead on a negative path whereby the classroom does not promote inclusivity and acceptance, some children may feel invisible, unimportant or even ashamed of who they are.
Many teachers have said that the “culture blind” approach works better, as each student cultural diversities goes unacknowledged.
However, researchers have shown that this feigned blindness, prevents students from accepting and appreciating important differences.
Discrimination is when a person is treated unfairly and compared to others due to their:
Diversity and acceptance can be taught to children in many different ways, for example:
• Talking openly about the value of diversity with you child.
• Discuss your family’s cultural background.
• Teaching respect towards others.
• The meaning of racism and prejudice.
Discrimination issues in school
Even though equal opportunities, rights and treatment have come a long way in the last decade and children from other ethnic communities are outperforming white British children, there still remains discriminatory issues. For example, in recent years, the exclusion rate has been growing at a faster rate for girls than it has boys, with Black Caribbean girls twice as likely to excluded or racially discriminated against than white girls. There are many types of discrimination that young people experience like:
• Direct discrimination is when a child or young person is treated differently either at school or in their community because of one, or more, different characteristics.
• Indirect discrimination is when a child or young person is treated in the same way as other pupils but it still has a negative effect on that child because of their ethnic background.
Research conducted by YMCA found that over 9/10 students, (95%) said they had experienced direct racist language, in fact UK school have recorded more than 60,000 racist incidents on school property.
Many academic psychology journals have suggested that many children do not understand racist terms of language as well as children not be aware or respecting other cultures and in fact any one different to themselves are strange. School needs to upgrade the education curriculum to include more information on different ethnicities.
Diversity in education
Overall, teaching staff believe that more can be done in UK school to educate all students on the importance of inclusivity and diversity. The Black Lives Matter movement, put in question the diversity of the school curriculum with a staggering 66% of teachers saying that this movement made them evaluate what they were teaching in the classroom. 61% of staff members in UK schools believe that the curriculum in 2020 was indeed reflective of the different groups and cultures surrounding them.
On the other hand, those who oppose this point of view have been on the rise to 26% in 2019 with a significant increase to 32% in August 2020.
Teaching staff are becoming increasingly comfortable discussing current societal topics with their students. Subject matters such as gender equality, educational needs and disabilities, and Black Lives Matter are widely accepted by teachers all across the UK.
Secondary school teachers have been found to be more accustomed to talking about pride as well as LGBTQ+ and non-binary definitions rather than those who are over the age of 55 and those teaching at primary school level. A 2019 survey asking the question how much do you feel the following group are represented? found that those getting the least amount of recognition in school are non-binary communities, LGBTQ+ community as well as those who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) along with white British men/boys/women/girls to be the most represented, again suggesting that teachers think that more can be done to represent more differences in an educational environment.
What are charities doing to improve diversity awareness?
Multiple charities around the UK are focusing their campaigns around the improvement of social inclusivity as well as anti-racist campaigns. The ways of promoting social inclusion and diversity are incredibly vast, the most adopted method I providing assistance to people who are or have been excluded from society due to cultural differences and abilities.
The majority of this service includes providing tangible services like childcare and extended education to enable those with learning difficulties so they are able to get the right education they need which they might not receive from a standard classroom.
Stop Hate UK is a charity which provides independent support for those affected by hate crimes and or discrimination in all forms and is one of the leading national organisations working on any aspect of an individual’s identity. This charity provides educational services regarding sexual orientation, disabilities, hate crimes, religious discrimination and personal identity, all aiming to get more people aware of the many differences in the world.
UK Black Pride is an organisation that advocates, fights for and celebrates LGBTQ+ people of colour in the UK. Their overall aim and operations create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin and middle eastern descent. The produce an annual celebration during pride month as well as a variety of activities throughout the year around the UK to promote and advocate for the spiritual, emotional and intellectual health and wellbeing of these communities.
StopWatch UK is a national research and action organisation that works to promote fair, effective and accountable policing for all communities. This charity and Legal challenge over the home secretary’s decision to drop all safeguards on 60 search tactics from the best use of stop and search scheme.