Memorandum from the Early Years Trainers
Anti Racist Network (EY 06)
1.1 We submit our evidence below. It focuses
specifically on our objectiveto counter racism. It is an
important time to be considering racial equality issues as a consequence
of the report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. This stressed the
need to address the learning of racist attitudes and behaviour
at the youngest age, from pre-primary school upwards.
1.2 We wish to give oral evidence to the
1.3 We have organised this evidence as follows:
"Early Years Education"with general comments,
followed by specific comments on the terms of reference and, finally,
2. EARLY YEARS
2.1 It is now well established that the early
years are critical for the learning of attitudes, including racial
attitudes, in young children. It is therefore very important that
all young children in early years education, whether they live
in multiracial or largely white areas of the country, are provided
with positive opportunities to learn to value and respect one
another. It is, however, equally important to recognise that racism,
racist attitudes and behaviour, are firmly embedded in our society.
Young children may enter early years education holding racist
attitudes that they have already learnt. Although such attitudes
may not be expressed overtlythere are all sorts of "messages"
given to children as to what can be said and not said in front
of adults in authoritythe reality is that they may be in
the early stages of believing they are superior to others based
on such things as skin colour differences, culture, religion and
language. These issues have specific implications for how early
years education is organised and practiced.
2.2 The report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry
demonstrated how institutional racism may be manifested. It also
drew attention to the early age that children learn racial attitudes
and the consequent need to work with children "at the youngest
age", "from pre school upwards". Racist attitudes
were not only responsible for the death of Stephen Lawrence, who
was black, but also for the situation that led to his murder and
which his alleged white murderers now find themselves in. Both
black and white people are clearly damaged by racism, although
in different ways.
2.3 Much of the existing early years practice
concentrates on celebrating festivals, valuing bilingualism and
providing a range of resources that reflect our multicultural
society but seldom addresses racism and its manifestations. This
ad hoc approach is insufficient. We believe that a strategic,
structural and comprehensive approach examining and addressing
all practices and procedures is essential if racism is to be effectively
addressed and removed. We believe most practitioners, advisers,
trainers and policy makers are not hostile to the issues but many
really do not know what to do in practice. They have not yet had
the opportunities to consider what might be anti racist practice,
either through training or reading the available literature.
2.4 For at least the last 20 years an increasing
number of people, some organised in formal groups or as individuals,
have been concerned that issues of racism were not being adequately
addressed in the early years. There has been scant recognition
of the underlying practices and procedures that perpetuate racial
inequality. The fact that "diversity" and "multiculturalism"
seldom recognise the racial hierarchy of cultures, languages and
different ethnic groups of people has, until recently, been largely
2.5 Over the years there have been changes
in the way communities from minority ethnic groups have been treated,
both nationally by government and in early years practicemoving
from initial concepts of "assimilation", through "integration"
and finally moving towards "equality". This has been
due to several factors:
the 1976 Race Relations Act, which
made racial discrimination unlawful;
the establishment of many groups
identifying the relevant issues, lobbying the government, proposing
legislation, writing articles, making videos, organising conferences/workshops,
establishing networks for sharing ideas and information;
members of the above groups working
with national training organisations and voluntary organisations
to change the curriculum and practice to address racism;
the 1989 Children Act requiring local
authorities to respect a child's "religious persuasion, racial
origin, cultural and linguistic background". The accompanying
Guidance identified the need for people working with young children
to be aware that "children from a very young age learn about
different races and cultures" and will be capable of assigning
different values to them. It raised other important issues including
the need to keep ethnic data to ensure the services are operating
in a non-discriminatory way.
2.6 With the election of the new government
and its focus on early years there have been significant changes
to address the structural underlying racism:
all early years services were brought
together in an integrated whole with the establishment of early
years development and childcare partnerships (EYDCPs) in every
local authority. This meant that, for the first time, issues of
equality could be viewed and assessed overall rather than in the
previous incoherent way;
the 1997 Guidance for early years
development partnerships required all plans to cover the "equal
the 1998 Guidance required more detailed
information, referred to the needs of refugees and Travellers
and highlighted a "Framework for Equality" contained
in our publication "Planning for Excellence". The DfEE
sent a copy to every EYDCP. This identified the responsibilities
of partnerships, services and early years settings to implement
racial equality in practice. The framework consists of six components
each with a list of suggested action points;
the 1999 Guidance cited specific
and detailed criteria for evaluating the plan for equality including:
an implementation plan covering
what is to be done, by whom and when, how children facing obstacles
in accessing services will be reached, how everyone will have
equal access regardless of their ethnicity or competence in English;
a monitoring mechanism to evaluate
the effectiveness of the policy (the results of which will be
required in the next plan);
how the partnership consults
with minority ethnic group families; and
details of training of staff
on equal opportunity issues and implementing the equality section
of the plan.
early excellence centre bids to the
DfEE have to operate equal opportunity policies in line with our
Sure Start has clearly defined principles
for equality embedded in its organisation and practice and addressing
racism is fundamental in all projects, wherever they are sited;
groups will be consulted on writing
the standards for assessing equality issues in inspection/regulation;
the principles applied to the new
early learning goals refer strongly to "race" issues,
although not sufficiently applied in the goals to themselves.
2.7 It is our experience that, in general,
most people have accepted the need to address racism in early
years services. But it is unlikely to happen in reality if it
is not a requirement to do so. Although it may be recognised as
important, there is so much else requiring to be done that that
it may not be established as a priority in the absence of such
a requirement. It may not be built into practices and procedures.
But the fact that the DfEE has built into its Guidance for EYDCPs
increasingly more effective requirements for equality to be implemented
is having its effect. For the first time many partnerships are
beginning to develop detailed implementation programmes. We do
not believe this would have happened if it had been on a voluntary
basis. However, some partnerships remain reluctant to take the
matter seriously. This is too important an issue to be left to
the whims of individuals and partnerships. It is therefore critical
that the DfEE, together with other national agencies such as the
Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the Teacher Training
Agency (TTA), award giving bodies in the further education and
voluntary sectors and OFSTED adopt an approach to equality that
is mandatory. Such an approach need not, and should not, be punitive,
threatening or crassly insensitive. But the firm requirement is
essential if the process of breaking down the cycle of learning
racism at an early age, that the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry identifies,
is to be possible.
2.8 It is no longer tenable to deal with
racism in the early years in an ad hoc way. It must be
addressed strategically and comprehensively from national government
to every setting. The foundations of this programme are now being
established. Although there is still a long way to go, addressing
the practices and procedures that perpetuate racism is now firmly
on the British national agenda. What is now needed is a national
commitment to a supportive, and sensitive training programme,
with concomitant national and appropriate funding, to implement
anti racist practice in the early years.
The appropriate content of early years education,
taking into account the recently published QCA Early Learning
2.9 The former Desirable Learning Outcomes (DLO)
did not address racial equality issues adequately. The recent
Early Learning Goals go some considerable way to rectifying this.
We welcome the following changes in the approach:
children's names in the examples
reflect our multicultural society more realistically;
strong principles about exclusion
and disadvantage because of "race", culture, religion
and home language, and children, parents and practitioners working
together in an atmosphere of mutual respect are established;
there are "essential" requirements
to understand equal opportunities legislation;
practitioners should plan to meet
the needs of children from all cultural backgrounds, of different
ethnic groups, including Travellers, refugees and asylum seekers
and from diverse linguistic backgrounds;
the learning environment should provide
a supportive environment, free of harassment where racial stereotypes
there is a whole page section on
English as an additional language;
all parents are to be made to feel
welcome, valued and necessary.
None of these were in the consultative draft.
The goals themselves are also an improvement.
However, they do not go as far as we would wish. They do not provide
opportunities for children to begin to consider the effects of
racist attitudes and behaviour and to unlearn any racist attitudes
that they may have already learnt.
2.10 Personal, social and emotional development
talks about enabling children to have a positive sense of
themselves, of positive images being needed in books and displays
and of opportunities for play and learning that takes account
of children's particular religious and cultural beliefs. The goals
include children developing respect for their own cultures and
those of others, understanding that people have different needs,
cultures and beliefs which need to be treated with respect and
that they can expect others to treat their needs similarly.
2.11 Language and literacy talks
about working where necessary with bilingual workers but there
is no reference to children's home language being valued.
2.12 Mathematical development talks
about children using a means of communication other than spoken
English in understanding specific mathematical concepts.
2.13 Knowledge and understanding of the
world talks about encouraging "critical thinking"
and for practitioners to have relevant training to improve their
knowledge, skills and understanding. The goals include children
being able to know about their own cultures and beliefs and those
2.14 Creative development talks about
using resources from different cultures to stimulate different
ways of thinking and accommodating specific religious and cultural
beliefs relating to forms of art and representation.
2.15 But while these changes are welcome
the fact remains that racism and the need to address it in the
early years, as stressed in the report of the Stephen Lawrence
Inquiry, is absent. The good principles stated earlier on in the
text are insufficiently followed through in the goals.
2.16 What is now needed is detailed nitty-gritty
of how antiracist practice is implemented in early years settings
with relevance to the goals. The action points for early years
settings contained in our Framework should form the basis of reviewing
the goals in the light of addressing racism in more positive ways.
The way in which it should be taught
2.17 Children learn best when all ideas,
theirs and those who are "teaching" them, are listened
to and respected. They are likely to be willing to evaluate their
attitudes and beliefs in an atmosphere of mutual respect, acceptance
and openness. Formal directive teaching situations are unlikely
to be conducive to such opportunities. Considering attitudes,
including racial attitudes, and expressing ideas need to be undertaken
sensitively, caringly and with respect for each childnot
in a threatening way to any child personally. Opportunities for
such discussion should be offered to all young children to build
up their confidence to express themselves and to form the basis
for future effective learning. Learning to be intellectually curious
and to be critically aware of the world around them are important
learning skills and facilitate the process of coming to terms
with racial attitudes and behaviour. Operating in a "no-blame
culture" where it is recognised and accepted that everyone
has had different experiences and opportunities to consider issues
of equality makes progress possible.
The kind of staff that are needed to teach it
and the qualifications they should have
2.18 We believe that all staff working with,
and caring for, young children should be committed to implementing
racial equality. This means ensuring that job descriptions should
refer to work to be done to implement equality and person specifications
should refer to the need for the commitment to do so. It cannot,
at this stage, be expected that everyone will know what this means
in practice but with commitment there is the basis for effective
learning. For more senior staff, and certainly for trainers, advisers
and partnership development staff, there needs to be further person
specificationto have the understanding, knowledge and skills
to be able to implement equality in practice.
2.19 With regard to the qualifications needed
there is great diversity in the training required in further education,
initial teacher education and the voluntary sector. While both
further education and voluntary sector courses nearly always have
requirements to address equality issues and anti discriminatory
practice this is not so in initial teacher education. This is
a serious issue, particularly with regard to recently qualified
teachers, as the TTA document on training and curriculum standards
for new teachers fails to address equality issues such as racism.
This means that teachers, however great their expertise in facilitating
some aspects of learning in children, will be less likely than
voluntary or further education sector trained staff to be familiar
with equality concerns. Some teachers will, of course, have taken
it upon themselves to develop expertise on equality or may have
had in service training in their local education authorities.
But this will not be automatic. We are not saying that teachers
will not know about these issues but are less likely than others
to have had opportunities to do so.
2.20 Basically all qualifications should
include training on equality issues, how inequalities arise and
are perpetuated and how, in practical ways, work should be done
with young children and their families. As stated earlier this
should be done in sensitive, non-threatening and supportive ways
that students can understand and accept.
The way quality of teaching and learning in the
early years is assessed
2.21 In February 1999 we submitted evidence
to your Committee Inquiry into the work of OFSTED. Your report
stated that there were very few submissions about the early years
and that, in view of the recent government review of the organisation
and regulation of early years and its implications for inspections,
you would be returning to the subject as part of this wider inquiry.
We hope that you will take account of our original evidence, bearing
in mind recent changes, for example, the new QCA document on early
learning goals replacing the Desirable Learning Outcomes. The
points we made are, in our opinion, still entirely valid. If you
wish me to send you a copy of the original evidence please let
2.22 Regarding point (1) on page 2 of our
original evidence, we enclose a copy of our publication "Inspecting
for Excellence" that was the topic of our summer conferences.
2.23 In view of the government's commitment
to equality of access and opportunity in government organisations
it is critical that the issue of ethnic monitoring and evaluation
of both applications to be OFSTED trainers and to be trained as
OFSTED inspectors is comprehensively undertaken.
2.24 The report of the Stephen Lawrence
Inquiry drew specific attention to the urgent need to address
the learning of racist attitudes and behaviour by very young children
and stressed the need for specific and co-ordinated action from
pre-primary school upwards. There is therefore a clear responsibility
for OFSTED to take equality issues very seriously and require
inspectors to be trained on these issues and for the framework
to require them to inspect them effectively.
2.25 With regard to the recent announcement
that OFSTED will be responsible for all early years inspections
we make the following points:
Some of the inspections conducted
by local authorities under the 1989 Children Act were really effective
in addressing racial equality, in ensuring that providers understood
what was meant by it in practice and of offering equality training
for providers. Many were far better than those inspections conducted
under OFSTED section 5 inspections. It is important to learn from
these experiences and to ensure that good equality practice is
incorporated in the new procedures.
All inspections, whether "light
touch" or not, should address equality issues fully. A one
day visit by one person is insufficient to assess this.
We believe that new head of the early
years arm of OFSTED should be experienced in the field of early
years and should understand how equality issues can be put into
practice throughout early years practices and procedures.
2.26 We wish to stress that all assessment
should be done sensitively and supportively. In the field of racial
equality there are many apprehensions, fears of being "accused"
of being racist and past experiences that may have induced guilt
and paralysis. It is important to recognise this. It is only in
a positive atmosphere that people are willing to consider their
practice and attitudes constructively. It is therefore essential
that all assessment operates in this way.
2.27 Self assessment, within the same ethos,
also provides opportunities to examine previously held cherished
ideas in constructive ways. Reflecting on practice in the light
of critical reading and opportunities to consider a variety of
viewpoints, rather than defensive reactions, is a goal worth striving
At what age formal schooling should start
2.28 By starting school at a later rather
than an earlier age children will be provided with more opportunities
in an early years setting, with its positive staff/child ratios,
to discuss and explore issues of racial attitudes and equality
under the personal, social and emotional development goals.
2.29 Similarly, children learning English
as an additional language will have a longer period to learn to
be confident in English and be able to address its written form,
prior to embarking on the formal aspects of the National Curriculum.
3.1 The DfEE should continue to pursue its
requirements for partnerships and plans to address equality issues
in detail. It should not approve any plan that fails to develop
practical implementation procedures as required in the 1999 EYDCP
3.2 Similarly the DfEE should not approve
any application to be an early excellence centre unless it has
a fully developed implementation programme to address equality
3.3 In the 2001-2002 EYDCP Guidance the
DfEE should extend its partnership requirements for equality to
include a requirement for all early years settings to have a policy
for equality, an implementation programme and a monitoring/evaluation
3.4 The government, possibly through the
DfEE, must provide or facilitate and fund effective, supportive,
non-threatening anti racist training for all early years workers
so that all the above can operate in practice.
3.5 All government agencies staff (DfEE,
QCA, TTA, OFSTED) involved in the early years should be provided
with effective, supportive training on the issues of racism in
the early years so that they can ensure the implementation of
racial equality in all early years services and settings.
3.6 The new arm of OFSTED must address racism,
including racial equality (and not just cultural diversity) issues
both in its training of trainers and of future inspectors, as
well as in the formal inspection framework. Ethnic monitoring
and evaluation of applications for trainers, inspectors and those
awarded inspector status should be required.
3.7 The early learning goals should be elaborated
to give detailed practical help to practitioners as to how to
implement anti racist practice.
3.8 The Teacher Training Agency must come
into line with regard to the DfEE Guidance requirements and prepare
new teachers to be able to implement racial equality in early
Early Years Trainers Anti Racist Network
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