Further Education is the most diverse of all the education sectors. Managing diversity and promoting equality, a legislative requirement of the 2010 Equalities Act, brings significant challenges for practitioners who are tasked with making the rhetoric of politicians a reality, often with little guidance and few resources. This book provides practical guidance for existing lecturers and trainee teachers, explaining how they can overcome these challenges and establish a positive learning environment to meet the needs of all learners.
This accessible and up to date book extends the scope of the diversity and inclusion debate to consider a wide range of issues including age, working with cross-cultural groups, promoting effective gender relations, sexual orientation and working with current and ex-offenders. Each chapter includes clear objectives, case studies, critical thinking tasks, chapter reflections and a learning review audit.
About the Author
Sheine Peart has worked in schools, colleges, local authorities and youth and community settings. She taught in Further Education for fifteen years teaching on various vocational programmes and working with challenging students. She held the post of the college Equalities Manager for eight years and previously managed a local authority education team dedicated to raising the achievement of African and Caribbean pupils. In her current post at Nottingham Trent University she teaches on the pre-service fulltime PGCE, Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (Prof Grad Cert) and the Certificate in Education (CertEd) for LLS as well as managing the Masters in Education courses. She is currently engaged in supporting one large urban college in developing a dedicated in house student support group for Black male students, called ‘Black on Track’.
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Equality and Diversity in Further Education
By Sheine Peart
Critical Publishing LtdCopyright © 2014 Sheine Peart
All rights reserved.
Introduction: equality and diversity in Further Education
This book has been written for all staff who work in a teaching, training or supporting learning capacity in Further Education (FE). The overall purpose of this book is to alert you to some of the historic and contemporary discussions regarding equality and diversity and to give you an opportunity to formulate your personal responses to these issues. This book cannot provide an answer to each and every situation you may encounter in your working life. However, the critical thinking tasks and case studies embedded throughout the book will help you to work through how you might manage these issues, where you could go for support and how to build yourself a firm ally base from which you can challenge inequality and discrimination.
The function of this chapter is purely to provide you with a map to navigate the rest of the book. While it is hoped you will want to read the entire book, it is almost inevitable that you will find some chapters more useful than others. Appreciating that FE tutors are busy people with multiple demands on their limited time, this chapter will enable you to make informed decisions regarding which chapters you will read and in what order you need to read them.
The equality and diversity landscape in FE
FE is the most diverse of all education sectors. It welcomes students of all abilities from those working at pre-entry level to students studying degree-level programmes; anyone over the age of 14 can attend college, including adult returners and students who have been excluded from schools, and there is no official upper age limit. This book examines the needs of these groups and extends the diversity debate to enable you to review your role as a tutor when working with different learners.
Effectively managing diversity and promoting equality (a legislative requirement of the 2010 Equalities Act) is a significant challenge for all teaching staff who have been given the responsibility of turning statute into reality, with very little advice. This book provides practical suggestions on how FE tutors can begin to meet these challenges.
Structure and organisation of this book
Each chapter in this book is organised in the same way. This is to support ease of use and to enable you to develop rapid familiarity with the text. All chapters begin with a visual map of the chapter contents. If you have very little time, simply consulting this map may be sufficient for you to decide whether or not you wish to read the chapter. However, the visual maps only provide the briefest information and do not give a detailed description of the chapter sections.
Directly following the map, specific chapter objectives are given. These chapter objectives list the skills you will have developed and knowledge you will have gained by working through the chapter contents. To support you in developing your skills and understanding, embedded throughout each chapter you will find a number of critical thinking tasks, case studies and discussions. Each of these different scenarios is drawn from a real situation or is based on an actual event. While some of these situations may be alien to you personally, they represent the range of different incidents that can occur in a college setting. Reading these case studies and carefully considering how you would respond will equip you to effectively manage similar situations should you encounter them in the future.
The critical thinking tasks are a particularly important feature of each chapter. Based on the information you have been given, the tasks invite you to engage both practically and intellectually with how to handle a particular challenge; you are asked to consider the impact and outcome of actions and events; and, most crucially, what such situations mean for you in the context of your working life. For most of these tasks there is no single right answer. Each answer will be, and should be, contextualised. What may seem appropriate in a large, multi-site general FE college may not be suitable in a small, single site, specialist institution. However, regardless of the location, size or type of college, every FE tutor is legislatively bound by the 2010 Equalities Act to work to promote equality of access for all learners, and to promote positive relationships between different groups of college users.
Each chapter also has at least one discussion. The discussions provide a response to the critical thinking tasks. They are not the only response that could be made and there may be other suitable actions or replies. However, they provide a clear summary of an educationally suitable, equality relevant response.
Chapter reflections at the end summarise the key points of the chapter. You are then invited to assess your own learning using the learning review audit. This tool may also help you to plan your own professional development needs by highlighting any areas where you need to complete more work. If your college has an appraisal system you may choose to take copies of some of these audits to discuss with your managers or peers. To support and encourage your further development a short list of further useful reading and websites is given at the end of each chapter.
Chapter 2 begins by explaining the requirements on all tutors working in FE, the legislative requirements imposed on those working in the public sector and by organisations such as Teaching Unions and the Institute for Learning (IfL). The IfL is responsible for conferring Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS). While it is not obligatory for FE tutors to gain QTLS, it is advisable because it demonstrates professional commitment and competence, and from the 1 April 2012, IfL members with QTLS status are also recognised as qualified to teach in schools (IfL website). The IfL thus remains an important and influential organisation for all teaching staff in FE and its role is discussed in this chapter.
Chapter 3 provides a contextual framework for diversity and equality. International and UK national perspectives and agendas are discussed, and pivotal events such as the Little Rock Nine dispute, the Swann Report, the Warnock Report and the Salamanca Conference are described. Historically it considers the impact of the US Civil Rights movement and the politicisation of race issues. It reviews how these arguments transferred to a UK context and charts how the United Kingdom has edged its way towards embracing a race equality agenda. It reviews the politicisation of organisations for people with disabilities and the changing representations of people with disabilities in education through the lens of empowerment, rights and entitlement.
Adults, that is anyone over the age of 18, form the majority student group in FE colleges. Additionally, many courses in FE are taught on a part-time basis. However, sometimes adult learners appear to be an almost invisible population, with their needs being prioritised below that of the full-time 16 to 18 year-old learners. Chapter 4 examines how you can work to ensure that the distinct needs of adult learners are not overlooked and they are not subsumed into a generic youth based culture.
Younger learners may be transferring to FE straight from school and may be used to a tightly structured environment where their time is strictly managed. Chapter 5 considers the support that younger learners might need in order to make a successful transition from being a child instructed what to do at school, to being a young adult capable of making reasoned, rational decisions. It reviews how to build appropriate professional relationships and your legal responsibilities when working with young people.
Chapter 6 examines the needs of transient student populations. In relation to students in this category, you could be working with a group in September who will have left by November. The very nature of being a temporary student means this group can easily be forgotten and as such is a vulnerable group. Three particular groups are considered in this chapter: apprentices, overseas students, and refugees and asylum seekers. The different needs of each are detailed and information which challenges popular reporting is presented.
Chapter 7 considers the implications of working with different cultural groups. It revisits the definition of a culture and provides contemporary examples of new and emerging cultures. It examines equality legislation and the different characteristics which are protected under UK legislation as well as the opportunities and challenges this poses for education.
Chapter 8 examines tutor responsibilities when working with offenders within a college environment. This chapter considers the organisation and structure of the judiciary and how college users may come into contact with different parts of this organisation. The chapter also considers how tutors might respond to potentially challenging or compromising situations.
Homophobic attitudes are still apparent in general society and in education. Chapter 9 examines how tutors can work in a positive way with college users to challenge negative gender stereotypes and to ensure that the requirements of the 2010 Equalities Act are adhered to.
Chapter 10 discusses managing equality and diversity in colleges. To achieve this task colleges need a fair and transparent management system where the needs of all college users are considered within the context of the legislative framework. This chapter evaluates what this means in practice for college users, how the senior management team needs to structure their response to equality issues, departmental action and individual tutor responses to diversity.
A glossary of all acronyms is provided at the end of the book which explains all abbreviations used in these chapters.CHAPTER 2
Professional responsibilities of tutors in Further Education
The purpose of this chapter is to explain your legislative and contractual obligations as a Further Education (FE) tutor in relation to inclusive practice and equality. These are minimum legal requirements. In addition the chapter explores the assumed moral responsibility of FE teachers working in colleges, arguing that it is our professional responsibility as tutors to confront discrimination in all forms and to understand our own assumptions. This may be difficult, but unless we can recognise our attitudes we will not be able to change them or to challenge the actions of others.
When you have finished reading this chapter you will be able to:
articulate the moral argument for promoting equality and diversity in education;
identify your contractual obligations as an employee;
list your professional responsibilities as a tutor in FE;
list government agencies' and teaching organisations' expectations of FE tutors.
The moral argument for implementing robust equality and diversity policies
Moral arguments have a tendency to polarise opinions, and most people hold firm views on what they believe is right or wrong. While some groups appear to enjoy positive advantages in society, other groups, such as students with disabilities, often have less opportunity. Equality is intimately linked with fairness and providing a means for everyone to participate. Equality is not about treating everyone the same; rather it is recognising specific needs and identifying resources and strategies to meet these needs. Educators are expected to ensure that all students regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or other individualised features are given the opportunity to achieve. Education fundamentally challenges the premise that any student is born to fail (Wedge and Prosser, 1973, p 1).
Furthermore, each major political party, teaching agencies and other interest groups (including Ofsted) have all agreed on the paramount importance of promoting equality. Ofsted have clarified their position stating that the most effective colleges actively promote equality and diversity ... through teaching and learning (Ofsted, 2012, p 7), and therefore equality should be embedded throughout every college's work.
Namaan, a practising Muslim female in your tutor group, has come to you for advice. Her design tutor has told the group that he has secured some funds to subsidise a weekend residential trip. Students need only make a small financial contribution. The trip will be from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening and accommodation will be in a small, private hostel with all meals included. The trip is not compulsory and the design tutor has assured the students that if they cannot attend, it will not affect their project grades, although he believes it will be an ideal opportunity to work together. Namaan has investigated the hostel where they will be staying on the web, which states unfortunately, this small hostel cannot accommodate special dietary requirements, though residents are welcome to prepare their own meals in the hostel kitchen. Namaan wants to go on the residential and has finally persuaded her family to allow her to attend. As a practising Muslim Namaan will only eat halal food and is unwilling to consume the hostel meals. She is not confident the hostel kitchen will have a suitable food preparation area and even if it did, Namaan feels it is unfair that she should be separated from her friends. She says it makes her seem odd. Namaan feels angry and upset and asks you what she should do.
Critical thinking activity
» What is your response to this situation?
» Has the tutor acted appropriately when sourcing accommodation?
» Is Namaan acting reasonably? After all, this is not a compulsory residential.
Discussion: residential trip
Residential trips can be fantastic learning opportunities. Staff and students can see each other in different environments and often such trips result in improved staff/student relationships. Residential trips are hard work for staff involved, but usually produce positive outcomes.
Residential trips are increasingly rare in FE and the design tutor probably feels pleased he has secured funds to subsidise this one. However, he has not fully thought through all the implications. Although student project grades will not be affected through non-attendance, the trip is not accessible to all students as different dietary requirements cannot be accommodated. It is not a solution that students are told to prepare their own food in the hostel kitchens. Furthermore, the kitchen may not have utensils or food preparation boards which have not been contaminated by forbidden (haram) foods. This would mean Namaan would be unable to eat in the hostel. One of the objectives of any residential is to allow staff and students the opportunity to socialise and integrate. Directing a student to prepare their meals apart from the rest of the group does not promote social integration and as Namaan states, makes her seem 'odd'.
If a tutor wishes to organise a residential, it needs to be fully accessible to all students. This means that necessary access arrangements and dietary needs should be accommodated. If this cannot be guaranteed, then an alternative venue should be sought. Organising a residential that can only be accessed by some students may, in reality, only serve to accentuate differences and works against building a supportive education community. Worst still, it may even establish cliques of 'haves' and 'have-nots'.
Professional expectations and responsibilities of tutors in FE
Wallace succinctly describes a FE professional as someone who has the ability to recognise, and take responsibility for supporting the rights and needs of learners (2007, p 67). Students who attend FE have the right to expect that their tutors will do everything possible to ensure their achievement.
Becoming an educational professional and behaving professionally encompasses many features. Although individual tutors will inevitably display degrees of proficiency in each area, a practical interpretation of professional behaviour would include the following.
Understanding the role – Most professional roles have accepted conventions. Before you can be recognised as a professional, you must demonstrate you understand these conventions, know how they should be applied and when to apply them. Usually you will learn these on a training course, such as the PGCE/ProfGCE (Post Graduate Certificate of Education/Professional Graduate Certificate of Education) or CertEd (Certificate of Education). Other behaviours are contextually bound and require you to understand the subtleties of your working environment. You would usually learn these in post.
Relevant subject knowledge – This may seem an obvious statement because of course teachers need appropriate subject knowledge. At the very minimum you should be qualified a level above the level you are teaching. Thus, to teach GCSE (General Certificate of Education) Biology, you should hold at least a level 3 qualification. Interestingly, this minimal approach means many FE tutors will be adequately qualified to teach a wide range of subjects and almost all tutors will be sufficiently qualified to teach basic skills. However, this could be a dangerous assumption as academic qualifications are not a measure of classroom management skills or the ability to motivate students.
Excerpted from Equality and Diversity in Further Education by Sheine Peart. Copyright © 2014 Sheine Peart. Excerpted by permission of Critical Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsMeet the author,
Meet the series editor,
1 Introduction: equality and diversity in Further Education,
2 Professional responsibilities of tutors in Further Education,
3 Race and disability in Further Education: international and national perspectives,
4 Meeting the needs of adult learners,
5 Working with younger learners and the impact of youth on learning,
6 Meeting the needs of transient populations,
7 Working with cross-cultural groups,
8 Integrating offenders in Further Education,
9 Managing gender and sexual orientation issues,
10 Managing equality and diversity in Further Education,
Glossary of acronyms,