Promotion of equality of opportunity is legally obligatory, morally incumbent and sound educational practice. It is also the responsibility of all to promote positive attitudes to equality and diversity and to remove bias in relation to disability, race, gender, class, religion, sexuality and learning ability.
At Langdon Park School the fundamental concern is with the wellbeing of the individual and the community as a whole.
For students this means ensuring that learning potential is maximised and the opportunities are provided for overall personal development. For adults the offer of a secure and safe place to work and visit will help to ensure that they are enabled to make a full and valued contribution to the life of the school.
We must continually strive to develop a curriculum and an ethos which will facilitate these ends. Our planning for the development of the school should recognise that issues relating to gender, race, creed, class sexuality and disability, greatly affect an individual’s experience of school and society and therefore need to be taken into consideration.
Ethos and Atmosphere
- The ethos and atmosphere of the school come from both the ethos and the curriculum.
- A school’s commitment to the abolition of all discrimination can be clearly indicated by the prevalent ethos and atmosphere. In action, attitudes and values should show that it provides a secure and favourable learning and working environment in which all students and staff feel they can fully participate. The physical environment of the school should show it to be an institution where all are equally valued. Langdon Park School has a fully accessible site with lifts in every building for this reason and this commitment to equality should also be reflected in such things as wall displays, furnishings and the absence of graffiti.
- Relationships between all school members of the school community should be based on mutual respect and consideration. Staff should intervene if they observe behaviour which appears to undermine this. Instances of any form of abuse should be reported to a member of staff.
- All staff should feel able to contribute to meetings and to participate in school development. The structure and organisation of meetings should be reviewed regularly to facilitate this.
- Space should be provided for all students to pursue caring activities and interests outside the classroom. This space should recognise their different but equally important needs.
- Whole school activities such as assemblies, cross-curricular activities, residential etc.
- The system and routines necessary for the management of the school should reflect a commitment to equal opportunities.
- A student’s learning potential and ultimate education achievements are maximised or diminished by their everyday experience of school.
- Any prejudiced attitudes encountered in the form of harassment, verbal and physical abuse, stereotyped images and ideas and restricted opportunity may contribute to a wholly negative experience of school for students
In striving to achieve equality, the school in regard to all students will –
- Ensure that the curriculum is accessible to all students regardless of gender, class, creed, race or sexuality.
- Ensure that the quality of experience in both the overt and the hidden curriculum is of an equally high standard for all.
- Be aware that the expectations of both staff and society may lead to a subconscious acceptance of different levels of achievement in some (for instance girls and boys) and be prepared to address the issues which this raises.
- Ensure that any form of verbal or physical harassment and/or abuse related to a person gender, race, creed, class or sexuality is totally unacceptable.
No member of staff should ignore overt or covert behaviour which abuses an individual’s gender, race, class, creed, disability or sexuality. It is unacceptable and this needs to be clearly explained to the perpetrator and the victim at an appropriate moment. Persistent or repeat offenders must be referred to the Leadership Team. Victims and potential victims must be offered support in dealing with incidents should they occur. This would involve having the confidence to report an incident as well as having access to counselling and other forms of support which the individual may need.
- All staff employed on the school site in any capacity should be aware of the school’s commitment to equality in the provision for and treatment of all staff and students.
- It is feasible that staff, like students, may have had previous negative experiences of restricted opportunity caused by prejudiced attitudes and assumptions.
- We must, therefore, be aware that certain kinds of discrimination e.g. sexism can be a particularly sensitive issue, as it encroaches on personal as well as professional behaviour.
In striving to achieve equality the school should, with regard to staff
- Ensure that adequate in-service provision is made available to all staff so that they are aware of equal Opportunity issues.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that no member of staff is prevented from attending development courses because of the timing of such courses and consequent difficulties with family responsibilities.
- Support and INSET should be offered to tutorial and nontutorial staff on issues relating to equal opportunities.
- Support staff to develop the necessary skills for responding to instances of discrimination which may be experienced by staff and students.
- Encourage and support all staff to avail themselves of professional development opportunities.
- Have in place an effective monitoring system of staff availing themselves of professional development opportunities.
- Make available a clear supportive system by which staff can voice their concerns with regard to adverse experiences, behaviour and attitudes.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that job descriptions and further particulars for positions within the school do not overtly or covertly discourage applicants of any particular gender, race class, creed, disability or sexuality.
- Recognise that all genders, classes, creeds, races and sexualities are capable of having effective managerial skills and, therefore should have equal opportunity to take part in the schools management structure.
- Value the expertise and experience and perspectives which all our differences bring to all aspects of school life.
The curriculum is a powerful vehicle for countering discriminatory attitudes in school and in society. If there is a central focus against this in the curriculum, we will support:
- The notion that in this society all people are of equal value.
- The significant role people of all genders, classes, creeds, races and sexualities have played in the development of the world.
- The creation of a learning environment which is equally favourable to all students.
The whole of the curriculum, must aim:
- To promote the contribution made by all in our society and the wider world.
- To offer a wide diversity of experience for all students, providing a variety of opportunities for them to gain success.
- Recognise the needs of all students within the classroom to maximise their learning potential.
- To create a learning environment where all students feel safe and respected.
- To foster in all students the skills of cooperation and the ability to empathise.
- To raise awareness of, and challenge, myths, stereotypes, language and misconceptions which reinforce inequality.
- To respond sensitively to issues of equality at times of subject choice, so that choices do not for instance merely reflect limited stereotyped expectations of future female and male roles.
The pastoral life of the school has a key role to play in promoting equality. The tutor and the Head of Year are significant focal points for the students as they move through their school career. Consequently it is vital that equality is recognised as an issue underpinning all forms of pastoral care.
The pastoral life of a school should
- Recognise and allow for the different needs of students in terms of counselling, recreational pursuits and social education.
- Avoids applying stereotyped notions about the behaviour of for example girls and boys to incidents which require either reward or discipline.
- Ensure that in year group or whole school functions, the organisation allows for the full participation of all students.
In respect of the Pastoral Life of the school
- The facilities and experiences should be provided to enhance social opportunities for all students.
- Students should be supported to take part in activities in which they are genuinely interested but may be reluctant to join because of being in a minority or because of adverse social pressure.
- Issues relating to gender and sexuality should be explored through the pastoral curriculum.
- The use of reward and sanction systems should be regularly monitored and reviewed by faculty and year teams.
- The referrals and exclusions of students from school should be regularly monitored and reviewed by the Leadership Team.
- Students have increased opportunity to exercise choice and decision making throughout their school career. This calls for frequent counselling of students and monitoring of choices by staff. It is important therefore that issues of equality are understood by those staff involved with students at these critical stages of schooling.
- All learning resources used in school should clearly reflect our belief in equality.
- Select materials which reflect equality.
- Always ensure that all can retain their self respect while using the materials.
- Draw attention to overt and covert sexism, racism etc in the language or illustrations used in existing resources.
- Bring to the attention of students, adults whose attitudes or lifestyles belie stereotypical assumptions.
- Be aware that ‘the teacher’ is the fundamental and most effective classroom resource and they should, therefore, monitor with own attitudes and behaviour towards students and colleagues.
- Use the available checklists for resource evaluation, including textbooks, wall displays, videos, worksheets etc.
- Monitor the access of students to special resources such as support teachers and outside agencies and, where necessary, review referral procedures.