In my essay my intention is for the reader to gain an insight to the effectiveness of legislation and currents Scottish Government policy through various factors. These factors being prejudice, discrimination, poverty, stereotyping, and promoting social justice and inclusion. I have also looked into diversity and how the above factors can influence in an early year setting. With having an insight to multiple identities, I have considered its application to policy and practice in the early years settings.
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Siraj Blatchford, (2006) describes multiple identities, as Identity formation is a complex process that is never completed. She believed individuals experience of gender, class, and other formative categories will form ones identity. Identity can be described as a kaleidoscope, suggesting children are all individuals and differences in people.
Parents views, media images, and the childs own perceptions based on their experiences and the values they have been shown can shape their identity. Children may have had a strong role model in their life absent and have a negative perception of people. Siraj Blatchford, (1998) stresses the importance to avoid stereotyping and the role an early years staff need to be vigilant of this and to take an active role in planning for, that avoid stereotyping supporting and developing individual childrens identities as masterful learners of a broad and balance curriculum.
Children at my placement had the opportunity to express their own identity through their own planning. This is evident in Task 1 (Appendix-A:1). Standard 11 from the National Care Standards (2005), Each child or young person has access to a sufficient and suitable range of resources. Point 1 of Standard 11 indicates this should be apparent with providing multi-cultural materials.
Legislation such as the Equality Act (2010) provides todays society a law that protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. Early year practitioners need to be aware of this act. This will then strengthen their knowledge and help towards preventing discrimination and inequality. Early years practitioners are also protected by the legislation. Whilst on placement I researched what resources they had to meet all individual and multiple identities. This is evident in Task 2 (Appendix A:2). This is also inline with Getting it right for every child, (2007) were is states Children and young people should be involved in planning according to their age, stage and understanding. Practitioners then are putting the child needs at the centre and develop a shared understanding within the setting and across agencies. There are eight sub headings that Scotland feels Children in Scotland should have met. These are Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, and Included. A plan may be put in place if a child is not being able to achieve one of the above. A plan is put in place for the childs goals to be accomplished and to monitor the childs progress. A child with this assessment tool is having their individual needs looked at. In Task 1(Appendix A:1) it is evident demonstrating how the setting dealt with a child who had specific individual needs and who the setting was in partnership with.
Staff should be aware how they treat children as individuals to avoid stereotyping what a girl can play with and what a boy can play with. For example a boy should not be discouraged from playing in the home corner as that would be stereotyping it should only be girls. This is outlined in Lindon, (1998). Children should be able to choose and play with what they want. Staff should be aware of their language towards children and shouldnt suggest strong boys or a clever girl to pass on a message. This was outlined in my observations where the children had the choice to choose what they want to play with and what area in the playroom. This is outlined in Task 1 (Appendix A:1) .
Early years establishments should consider The Race Relations Amendment Act, (2000). This act protects staff from being racial abused promotion of good equality to all people regardless of their racial groups. Milner, (1983) demonstrated children have shown positive and negative feelings about people from a different race from themselves. As a practitioner ensuring they portray a positive image to all will discourage negative and racial prejudice whilst making children aware not everyone is the same. Planning with Curriculum for Excellence (2009) will encourage for children to be Responsive Citizens which covers respect for others and understand different beliefs and cultures.
In early years settings it is predominately females but a mixed work force is an advantage for children and staff. Children should have positive relationships with females and males. There should be a staff employment process and policy to prevent stereotyping and discrimination when recruiting. Staff should also speak to male guardians when they come to collect the child rather than only speaking to the mothers. This would be deemed as prejudice towards the male role of parenting. In my placement they had a recruitment policy, which was visible at the entrance. This is outlined in Task 3 (Appendix A:3). HMIE The Child at the Centre, (2007) indicator 9.1 looks at promotion of positive attitudes to social and cultural diversity. By talking to both female and males parents the vision is shared and all are working together. This means all involved with the setting have a shared knowledge of the setting aims and values. In point 9.1 is also describes the importance of celebrating diversity and inclusion. This is a key point as it may then promote positive attitudes in which will have a knock on effect on the child perception of what is acceptable.
Whilst having protection for children and their rights, each child should be treated as an equal whilst getting their individual needs met. All children should be treated fairly regardless of their home circumstances. Children have a better prospect to a brighter future in life if legislation is in place. Pre-school is important for children to receive positive messages and learn values of others. If children are in a minority in a nursery class they are more likely to find it difficult if labelled or stereotyped. This is in-line with what Dowling, (2010) believes children will learn from the message received from the adults in their life and through modelling. Acts are put in place to protect children and others. The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 protects the welfare, safety and rights of the child.
Childrens participation in family, community and culture makes a particular contribution to their life (Waller, 2005). Early year settings should be making it their duty to work well together with parents, authorities and agencies to tackle issues against class, poverty and discrimination. Also staff should be aiming for all childrens outcomes to be achieved regardless of their class, so children dont fall into a low class society due to lack of opportunities. As a practitioner I have a responsibility to use legislation in my practice and portray positive images to children about all being equal and treated fairly which is in-line with National Care Standards, (2005), Standard 8, point 1.
The Equality Bill, (2009) is to reduce socio-economic inequalities. It gives each individual opportunity to succeed to build a modern prosperous society, tackling any barriers that hold people back. If people receive help they wont begin to have a sense of hopelessness. Services should be aiming for all childrens outcomes to be achieved regardless of their class, so children dont fall into a low class society due to lack of opportunities.
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Equally Well, (2008) is The Scottish Government approach to tackling poverty and to improve the health in Scotland. It covers points, which will influence a child opportunity in life. Children’s circumstances in the earliest years of life are critical to future health inequalities. If work can be put in place at the earliest stage possible it achieve to an ending of the cycle of todays health inequalities which is what the parents passes onto the child and affecting their future. Equally well, (2008) is also in line with the Scottish Government policy, Early Years Framework, (2009). Through this they hope to change the focus from crisis intervention to prevention and early intervention. Achieving Our Potential (2008) also is a framework, which is trying to tackle poverty in todays society. The Government through this policy is aiming to support those who are in poverty or any individuals that in risk of falling into poverty. In Scotland they found 17% of Scotland population was affected by relative poverty.
The Early Year Framework, (2009) aims to provide children the best start to their life through the support of families, communities and services. Further more if all working together it should help to improve the state of people health through, less stress for parents as receiving support, safer housing and environments for children to develop and learn. It will also improve engagement with children and families. The framework works along side the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, (1989). One of the points which is important for early years setting to be aware of is Article 27 – Children grow up free from poverty in their early years and have their outcomes defined by their ability and potential rather than their family background. This applies to all children regardless of their age, gender, race, culture beliefs and social status.
According to Bennett and Moss report, ( 2009) Working with Diversity: summary of a discussion paper for Children in Scotland. They believed some children services help contribute to social justice. One of the key themes being working with ethnicity and poverty They believed that children with a lower socio-economic groups are statistically likely to have poor outcomes on a wide range of measures. These outcomes include the childs family stability, attendance in class, health and employability opportunities. Children from an excluded ethnic background will be even more likely to have poorer outcomes due to be socially excluded. Additionally they also felt the government should give children a fair start in life which is very similar to what the Early Years Framework, (2009) is trying to achieve. Services for children then have an important role in looking at children at individuals and promote their learning regardless of any ethic background. This is evident from my placement in Task 1 (Appendix A:1). The placement also offered praise to the children through various ways and is inline with the setting prompting Positive behaviour policy. This is evident in Task 2 and Task 3 (Appendix A:2 and A:3). This promotes the identities of the children and is a fair process for all promoting inclusion.
Point 1.1 of the Scottish Social Services Council Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers, (2002) is to treat each person as an individual. The codes is an agreed document which is active as services Workers are adhering to working in services to provide the best possible care to the needs of others and following a conduct of practice. Point 1.6 Respecting diversity and different cultures and values. This point is valuable to be respectful of individual identities and their backgrounds. Early years staff on my placement all held a enhanced disclosure from Disclosure Scotland, (2002), which is where adults working with children are vetted against any convictions and details any list they are on which inhibits them to work with children. It means the person working with a child is safe to do so and plays an important part of the recruitment process that all individuals will undertake due the nature of work. This is line with the placement policy on Selection Process For Staff and is in-line with HMIE Child at the Centre, (2007) indicator 1.2. The indicator implements what is the lawful requirement for the setting whilst following legislation and codes of practice.
Maslow hierarchy of needs is a triangle of needs he believed human beings have to work through. According to Maslow one stage had to be satisfied in order to process to the next stage. A child in poverty will struggle to move from the physiological needs stage as poverty will inflict on the amount of food and warmth they have. The next stage takes into account of safety, which may not be ideal for people living in rural areas due to poverty.
Carneiro, (2007) showed that parental interest has a strong impact on the development of cognitive and social skills. Parents with high interest for preschool education will send their child to a good learning environment. According to Sammons, ( 2005) children who have no pre-school have lower cognitive scores and social abilities. This will then have a knock on effect to the child abilities to succeed as they grow. Parents are encouraged to take an active role within the setting I was on placement at. This is evident in Task 3 (Appendix A:3). By involving themselves they are working alongside the team and provides the parents the opportunity to build positive relationships. With all parents being welcomed they will feel valued and are being treated as an equal. It also gives parents the opportunity to find out information about the childs home life.
With thinking about my placement and its stage of understanding social justice and inclusion I began to think of Siraj Blatchford, (1996) stages of equality practice. With the 6 stages I feel my placement lies within Stage 4. They do celebrate different cultures and follow policies around equal opportunities, Partnership with parents and promotion of positive behaviour. With the partnership policy all parents are welcomed and individual talents are also encouraged for the children learning. This is outlined in Task 2 and Task 3 (Appendix A:2 and A:3). There are no male members employed at the moment within the setting I was placed at, so dads and other significant male figures are encouraged to play their role within the setting. This too then set out equalities within the setting and offers a different kind of learning for the children. They have a wide range of cultural activities in which the children can choose they are not only set out when its the time of a particular festival. The setting has a wide range of learning materials for the children learning around different cultures. This is evident in Task 1(Appendix A:1) Children can also explored new resources with their own choice; this is evident in Task 2 (Appendix A:2). The general ethos of the setting is to respect all and is this evident throughout the setting. This is evident throughout Task 1-3(Appendix A:1-A:3).
As stated in Malik, H (2003) within my role I should be providing the best possible care and a high level of service in my practice as it reflects equal opportunities policies and practices. This is where it is logical to have a clear understanding of policies and the government initiatives to make Scotland a better society for the future of todays children. In practice today practitioners need to be able to treat children as individuals and demonstrate a positive attitude to abolish negative traits such as stereotyping, prejudice and judging others social class. By offering a good learning environment for children such as pre-school, school and open play areas, it will give them the opportunity for the best start in life. This is in-inline with an approach from Achieving Our Potential, (2008). Legislation and policies in this piece of writing play a crucial role in early year settings. Equality and fairness should be a robust significance throughout a setting to promote inclusion and multiple identities. All involved in a setting are treated in a non-discriminatory and respectful manner. This is in-line with HMIE The Child at the Centre, (2007) Point 5.6.