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Inclusive Education: Promoting Diversity and Equity in the Classroom

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) in the classroom and beyond should be a cornerstone of effective teaching practice and a leadership priority. All children are entitled to a high-quality education in a nurturing and inclusive environment, where all can thrive, make progress and fulfil their potential.  

Making sure that settings meet their equality, diversity and inclusion responsibilities is also a key element of the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework. It impacts all areas of key judgement applied to schools (quality of education, behaviour and attitude, personal development and leadership and management) – as detailed in their ED&I statement.

In this article, we will consider what equality, diversity and inclusion means, the legal requirements for schools relating to it, and provide some strategies to promote ED&I, at both a whole-school and classroom level.

What is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion?

Whilst equality, diversity and inclusion are closely related, and often discussed as a single concept, it is useful to consider the individual terms and their meanings. 

  • Equality – means that everyone is treated the same, is treated fairly and has the same opportunities. Equity is slightly different from equality in that it recognises that each person has different circumstances. This means that varying types or levels of support might be required, depending on individual need, to take full advantage of equal opportunities. 
  • Diversity – means recognising, respecting and welcoming everyone’s different backgrounds, identities and experiences. Promoting diversity celebrates people’s differences and uniqueness.
  • Inclusion – means that everyone is encouraged to retain their uniqueness, they aren’t singled out for being different, and have a sense of belonging and being valued

Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

Verna Myers

Inclusion importantly goes a step further than diversity. Promoting diversity is sometimes criticised as a tick-box exercise, often driven by data. For example, a school could claim to be ‘diverse’ based on numbers of pupils and staff who meet a certain criteria. However, if a school is truly inclusive, then they ensure that every member of that diverse community is nurtured, celebrated, and feels secure and included within the school community. 

Why is Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Important?

Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in education is essential for both staff and students. Not only is it a legal requirement, but every member of the school’s community is entitled to a learning and working environment where they can thrive together and celebrate their uniqueness. 

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