Equality and Diversity

Equality and Diversity

The Equality Act 2010 requires schools to publish information to show how we are working to:

  • Eliminate discrimination
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic* and people who do not share it
  • Foster good relations between groups of people

The *protected characteristics – which relate to a primary school – are:

  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion and  belief

Other groups of pupils we believe  it is also important to consider are:

  • Looked-after pupils / children who were previously look-after
  • Young carers
  • Pupils eligible for free school meals or living in poverty

Equality and Diversity Statement of Intent

At the Oak Tree Federation, we strive to celebrate individuality at the core of all that we do and seek to provide an environment which allows children to express themselves without fear of judgement. It is our belief that the best learning takes place when children feel safe. We believe that pupils, parents and carers, employees and all within our school community should have a safe and welcoming environment; free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation. We also promote learning about each other’s identities, recognising our similarities, as well as what makes us unique. We want The Oak Tree Federation to be a place where diversity is celebrated and where individuals feel valued and respected for who they are. In order to shine a spotlight and build upon this diversity, it is essential that equality of opportunity and the absence of unfair discrimination be at the forefront of all the school’s activities. We are committed to ensuring equality of education and opportunity for all pupils, staff, parents and carers receiving services from the school, irrespective of race, gender, disability, faith, religion or socio-economic background. We believe that children at The Oak Tree Federation should have a good understanding of what equality is and know that this does not mean that we all have the same but instead all have access to the resources we need to thrive; Children should have respect for what others need and be supportive of this. We aim to develop a culture of inclusion and diversity in which those connected to the school feel proud of their identity and are able to participate fully in school life.

We teach children about equality, diversity and inclusion through an in depth PSHE curriculum that shows clear progression throughout the school; teaching children about relationships, respect and keeping safe. We also adopt strong values of ‘respect’, ‘kindness’ and ‘Working Together’ within the school values and children know and reflect on these frequently throughout their time at school; learning about these values in stories but also making connections to their own lives. The Oak Tree Federation also delivers the ‘Working with Others’ support programme whereby skills are taught throughout the whole school both within class and across ages in whole school ‘Working With Others’ events.

Gender Equality

What this means to us:

  • Stereotyping means expecting girls and boys to behave or look a particular way. We recognise that there is still incredible pressure in society for us to conform to gender specific roles / looks and we need to teach children about this
  • We value individuality and this includes individuality in children who don’t want to act or dress in a way that is ‘typically like a boy’ or ‘typically like a girl’
  • We respect and support children’s gender identities whether they accept, question or want to change the gender ascribed to them at birth

How do we promote gender equality?

  •  Staff use language carefully to reflect gender equality (for example: we wouldn’t say ‘ladies first’, we would teach the children about letting each other through a door as a polite thing to do; we would talk about fire-fighters not firemen; police officers not police men or women; nurse not male nurse which suggests a man as a nurse is unusual)
  • Teachers don’t ask children to get into boy and girl groups / teams in (for eg) PE
  • We do run girl-only football club at lunchtime on a Thursday because these sporting activities are often dominated by boys and so we positively discriminate
  • We teach the children about stereotyping within the curriculum
  • We challenge stereotypes through the books we read children; choices of images we present etc
  • We analyse all our data by gender to check if there is an issue we need to address (eg improving the  attainment of boys in writing)

What we avoid/don’t tolerate:

  • We don’t tolerate gender put-downs (for example: calling a boy ‘a girl’ to make him feel bad; calling a girl a tomboy because she plays football)
  • We try to make sure reading books reflect our gender equality policy. If you find a book that you think gives the wrong message, please tell your child’s class teacher – we won’t be offended (some may slip through the net and we will be able to use them to teach children about gender equality).   

Race and Heritage Equality

What this means to us:

  • We value all our children as individuals and value the diversity of racial and cultural heritage within our community. As a school with a relatively small ethnic minority community, we feel it is especially important to value and make visible not only the races and cultures represented within our community but those that are not currently represented – and to do this in a planned and proactive way.
  • We teach children about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultures in the curriculum and assemblies and include trailers / vans in discussions (and play resources) about ‘homes’. We have books about GRT culture for the children to read. We hold assemblies to celebrate Gypsy, Roma and Traveller month
  • We make sure toys, displays, books etc reflect a range of people from different cultures and avoid stereotypes
  • We have Refugee Week assemblies and teach the children about refugees as part of the curriculum
  • We celebrate Black History Month in assemblies and are developing a more diverse / hidden history curriculum
  • PSHE units help all children understand and respect our range of identities

What we avoid/don’t tolerate:

  • We teach children about GRT insults (pikey; chav being the most common) and do not tolerate their use; racist comments / put-downs are never tolerated

Religious or Belief Equality

What this means to us:

  • We believe that religious/belief education plays an important role in helping to keep our community a tolerant and inclusive place in which to live
  • We value the diversity of religious belief and other philosophical beliefs our local and wider community. We also respect the right to have no religion or belief.
  • Our Religious Education curriculum gives young people the opportunity to develop an understanding of their own and other people’s beliefs and therefore helps young people live in a diverse society
  • Children make visits to different places of worship within our community
  • We respect the right of families to celebrate key religious festivals and authorise absences accordingly
  • We respect the religious wishes of families regarding participation in school celebrations (for example Christmas performances and birthday assemblies)

What we avoid/don’t tolerate:

  • Put-downs related to belief or religion are never tolerated

Family Equality

What this means to us:

  • We value all family types as equally special and recognise that children need to be proactively taught that other children’s families can be different to their own family type.
  • We will celebrate families in within the RSE* / PSHE curriculum. Our hope and experience is that celebrating family diversity encourages children to share and therefore educate other children about the variety of family types in our community
  • We use the term ‘parents and carers’ as a general term rather than ‘mums and dads’ to refer to children’s significant adults
  • We buy books that include a variety of family types.
  • We recognise that children who are adopted into families or fostered often have specific needs and may need additional care. We are  sensitive to areas of the curriculum / the calendar year that may affect children

What we avoid/don’t tolerate:

  • We don’t tolerate any put downs about families and deal with them seriously – we take any put-down as an opportunity to educate children about diversity and equality
  • We teach children about homophobia and homophobic put-downs. The casual use of ‘gay’ as a negative adjective is never tolerated and children are taught why this can never be acceptable
  • We never leave children out of trips because their grown-ups can’t afford to pay for them

Disability Equality

What this means to us:

  • We celebrate different abilities in many ways while also supporting the specific needs children may experience. We teach children to celebrate difference and that difference is not about lack or less but about rights, needs, attitude and access. We teach the children that equality is not about everyone getting the same but about everyone getting what they need.
  • We recognise that helping your child be equally included may need specific support and we will work with you and other agencies to ensure we do this well
  • Disabilities can affect a child’s achievement or social experience in very different ways. Although achievement is a major factor, we also are clear that a child’s social experience is vital to a good education and can help your child achieve a positive social experience in a variety of ways

How do we promote disability equality and help all children get on well together?

  • We teach children about disability equality through the curriculum as well as our general language and attitude
  • Difference is often obvious to children and this benefits from being discussed and accepted openly to support positive relationships.
  • All children at both Firle and Laughton have equal access to all of school life.
  • We are linked with ‘Chailey Heritage Foundation’. The children have opportunities to learn about children form Chailey Heritage Foundation and the similarities and differences between our schools. The children have enjoyed learning about all of the activities that we do across both school.

What we avoid/don’t tolerate:

  • We talk to the children about different skills, achievements and abilities. We know that children/people can be competitive and avoid the ‘top/bottom group’- this means that children experience learning with all children over time in mixed attainment groupings. They are specifically taught how to include every one and how to listen to each other’s ideas respectfully
  • We treat put downs related to ability/disability seriously. These can include put downs pertaining to high attainment (eg: geek; nerd) or low ability / attainment (eg: thick; stupid). Such put downs are unusual.