Equality – We’re Making It Happen!
The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation is pleased to report on further success in educating around diversity and equality, with the aim of reducing bullying.
The Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE, a national charity working to promote equality and eliminate discrimination in education) was given a grant to deliver seven equality workshops in Bristol, King’s Lynn, Norwich, Leicester, Reading, Chorley and York to a total of 119 primary and secondary school teachers, inclusion managers, pastoral support leaders, senior leaders and governors who care about equality and want to reduce all forms of prejudice-based bullying and discrimination in school.
“It has helped me realise how easy it is to perpetuate gender stereotypes without realising it.”
The reason for this work is, despite schools’ obligations under the Equality Act 2010, equality and diversity are not fully understood with regard to the protected characteristics covered by the Act and evidence suggests that prejudice-based bullying continues to be rife in many schools. Schools report that they have insufficient knowledge, skills or confidence to tackle prejudice constructively.
The equality workshops were framed around CSIE’s guide Equality: Making It Happen, which is a succinct and user-friendly set of reference cards to help schools reduce bullying, address prejudice and promote equality holistically. The workshops were specifically designed to be engaging and constructive, inviting practitioners to consider every aspect of equality and ensure that this is reflected in their day-to-day practice.
Each workshop opened with an overview of the current national context: alerting participants to the increase in reported hate crime, highlighting the similarities between what is termed bullying in schools and hate crime in society, and putting forward the suggestion that getting it right in schools will pave the way to getting it right in society.
Participants were invited to reflect on a range of scenarios and consider how they might respond in each situation in ways that are consistent with their equality duties. Half-way through the workshop, there was an opportunity to gently challenge participants’ thinking by watching an extract from a video highlighting the importance of perspective. Three separate videos were used for this, one dealing with disability equality, one with LGBT equality and the third more generally demonstrating different meaning-making from alternate perspectives.
Each workshop closed with a brief presentation of a range of strategies for addressing prejudice and for promoting equality in schools, inviting participants to think about issues of language, everyday interactions, physical space, policies, and links with the community.
Finally, participants were invited to capture their thoughts in the moment and record what changes to their practice they intend to make in the short and medium term as a result of the workshop. CSIE conducted followed-up three months down the line.
As a consequence of the workshop, most participants said that they found the content really good, useful, very interesting or thought-provoking, with a good balance of discussion and listening.
Most of all, the participants valued the opportunity to consider equality issues and having time to reflect on them, a chance to discuss these issues and learn from other participants’ experiences and the clear information on equality legislation and CSIE’s equality guide.
Tom, one of the participants, said that the workshop gave him a significant moment of realisation and that this has strengthened his commitment to challenge gender stereotypes within and beyond school.
“The workshop gave me fresh insight into gender equality and has helped me realise how easy it is to perpetuate gender stereotypes without realising it. Almost in disbelief, he admitted that he and his wife had painted their son’s bedroom blue – two professional people, fully committed to equality and mindful of how they treat people of all genders in school, and yet inadvertently slipping into adopting ‘traditional’ gender stereotypes in their personal lives.”
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