Matters of race, disability, sexuality, and gender are not specifically identified as aspects to address in the teachers’ standards (DfE, 2011), the ITT Core Content Framework (DfE, 2019) and the initial teacher education inspection framework (Ofsted, 2020). However, the ITE Partnership recognises that trainees have diverse identities. The Partnership is committed to supporting all trainees to experience a sense of belonging and to upholding the legal duties which are outlined in the 2010 Equality Act. We are committed to inclusion, equality of opportunity and equity for both trainees and pupils.
Read Chapter 1 in the following:
It is unlawful for a school to discriminate against a pupil or prospective pupil (or a trainee) by treating them less favourably because of their:
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
- gender reassignment
- pregnancy or maternity
It is also unlawful to discriminate because of a characteristic which you think a person has, even if you are mistaken.
Crucially, mentors need to understand the Edge Hill University curriculum within a given development phase. We have developed a curriculum for inclusion which is incremental. This curriculum also connects the university-based teaching and the school experience.
- Direct discrimination occurs when one person treats another less favourably, because of a protected characteristic, than they treat, or would treat, other people. This describes the most clear-cut and obvious examples of discrimination.
- Indirect discrimination occurs when a provision, criterion or practice is applied generally but has the effect of putting people with a particular characteristic at a disadvantage when compared to people without that characteristic. An example might be holding a training session on a Friday evening. This could make it difficult for Jewish trainees to attend.
Placing trainees at the centre of all decision making
If a trainee has a protected characteristic and you are aware of this, it is always a good starting point to discuss with the trainee what support they might require to enable them to succeed. Some trainees may have support plans and they may be willing to share these with the mentor. These plans may outline what adjustments need to be provided to ensure equality of opportunity. Some trainees may have a protected characteristic, but they may not wish to share this with the school and that is their choice. In cases where trainees have a protected characteristic and they are willing to share this with the school, a meeting with the mentor, link tutor and trainee prior to the start of placements is a good opportunity to identify what support the trainee might need and this will enable the mentor to plan a structured programme of support. Many trainees with disabilities can thrive in teaching. Trainees with dyslexia are usually confident orally, they are creative, and they tend to automatically break down learning into small steps for pupils who require additional literacy support. Here is a useful Science Direct article to download and read.
Read the following case studies and respond to the questions:
- Andy is a non-binary trainee and uses they/them pronouns. The mentor tells Andy on their first day that the children must refer to them as Mr ….. Andy does not feel comfortable about this because they do not identify as male.
- Did Andy experience discrimination?
- How might you address a similar case?
- Nosheen is dyslexic. During an English lesson she made a spelling mistake as she was writing on the board. The pupils started laughing and Nosheen was upset. At the end of the lesson the mentor gave her some feedback. The mentor said, ‘I know you struggle with spelling, but you are a teacher, and you need to make sure your spellings are correct’.
- Did Nosheen experience discrimination?
- What strategies might you use as a mentor to support Nosheen?
Support for mentors
There is some key terminology what you need to learn to support you in your role as a mentor.
- Global Majority is a collective term that first and foremost speaks to and encourages those so-called to think of themselves as belonging to the global majority. It refers to people who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, and or have been racialised as ‘ethnic minorities’. It is a more inclusive term than ‘minority’.
- A useful summary of LGBTQ+ terminology.
- Acceptable and non-acceptable disability terminology.
Department for Education (DfE), (2011), Teachers’ Standards Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies, London: DfE.
Department for Education (DfE), (2019), ITT Core Content Framework, London: DfE.
Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), (2020), Initial teacher education inspection framework and handbook, Manchester: Ofsted.