Equality and Diversity in the classroom
A brief explanation of the difference between equality and diversity and how both can be applied in the classroom.
What is the difference between equality and diversity, and how can both be promoted in the classroom?
While these two terms are frequently seen together, it is important to recognise that there are meaningful differences between the concepts of Equality and Diversity. Equality, according to the Equality Act (2010), means that equal opportunities should be available for all, and the Act renders it illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, race, religion/belief, or sexual orientation. Diversity, however, means recognising and celebrating our individual differences – a teacher’s role is to ‘act in a manner which recognises diversity as an asset’ (IfL 2008, cited in Peart, 2014). In a modern classroom, it is vital that both values are upheld. To maintain equality, a teacher must ensure that all learners are able to access the learning they need, and should be able to recognise and address barriers to that learning wherever possible. Embedding diversity means recognising different cultures and backgrounds, and ensuring that all communications in the learning environment are representative of the diversity found within it. Key ways to promote both equality and diversity include: adjusting resources so that tasks are accessible for all, utilising a range of teaching methods to cater to different learning styles, ensuring that language used in the learning environment is appropriate and non-discriminatory and ensuring that assessments do not discriminate against any learners.
Equality Act 2010 (c.1). London: HMSO.
Peart, S. (2014). Equality and Diversity in Further Education. Northwich: Critical Publishing.