Today we started by looking at Equality and Diversity at Plymouth University and some of the education challenges faced as an institution. Equality and Diversity for teachers is about Inclusive Learning.
To help support this there are many different resources, first the Plymouth University Equality and Diversity Policy which illustrates our institutions commitments and responsibilities to promote equality and eliminate discrimination in the workplace or at study. Also we were directed to the Learning Development team who can assist staff and students with academic skills, such as writing. Learning Development have a web resource for this called WrAssE, which is something I am very familiar with as I was involved in the development of the project. Also on the subject of inclusivity the JISC TechDis resources were also highlighted. Looking at the words themselves, equality is a vision or aim, and diversity is the difference in values.
What experience have we encountered in education, either as student or tutor, where diversity played a part. For me it was coming into Higher Education as a student to study my degree, working with people from different cultures was a new challenge but also a international student, where the biggest issue was language. I think this is common for Higher Education as the number of international students increases, there will be issues to with.
After a short break, we then has a presentation from Plymouth University’s Equality and Diversity department (3 people) who’s role is to promote an open and inclusive environment. The co-ordinate the university’s equalities policies as well as co-ordinating a network of harassment advisors.
We should be treating people of different cultures and diversity with the same manner. Not only for the moral and social aspects by also as a business case, we want to keep staff from moving on and retain our current students. We want to build a solid reputation in the sector, and also comply with legislation, (Equality Act 2010).
The equality acts brings other discrimination acts under one umbrella of legislation.
Protected characterises includes: age, disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, sex, gender, assignment, pregnancy or maternity, marital or civil partnership status.
Type of discrimination can happen in two ways, either directly or indirectly. Indirect discrimination is the hardest to identify. This can be teaching certain tasks in class when indirectly you are discriminating a certain group (perhaps students with dyslexia for example). Direct discrimination is simply breaching a protected characteristic towards a person or group, whether they be staff or students.
Public sector equality duty tells us that we need to eliminate discrimination, harassment and any other conduct prohibited under the equality act, advancing equality and opportunities. Plymouth University has but together an equality scheme in response to the duty which is designed to encourage faculties and directorates to build on the considerable progress the university has made in promoting race, disability and gender quality.
For me, dealing with the issues is inclusivity, it makes sense to have visual elements to teach, issue handouts, have them available electronically and in other formats, run tasks in class so there is peer-assisted learning, but be aware of showing respect to the characteristics listed in the equality act either in a direct way but also in an indirect way, which needs close attention as it could be easier to breach.
For students with a disability (a physical or mental impairment) that influence there ability to carry out day-to-day activities, students are advised to visit Disability Assist Services (DAS).