Equality Begins at Home

by Dr Wanda Wyporska, Lead Equalities Officer at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers

To steal a popular phrase, equality does begin at home, in the modeling that is demonstrated though how parents, carers, family and friends treat each other and speak about others.

We’ve seen from the excellent work of Show Racism the Red Card that many children and young people hold prejudiced views about others, which may have come from the home.

We know that society as a whole and the corporations which want to sell our children their products, have a vested interest in perpetuating the dinosaur/doll gender split – it’s not just pink and blue now. And these gendered attitudes can also play themselves out as young people make career choices, we know that many more women are steered towards lower-paid hair and beauty apprenticeships rather than higher-paid engineering apprenticeships. No wonder there’s a gender pay gap of over 20%.

It’s a popular rallying cry, that schools must cure the ills of society – tackle Female Genital Mutilation, eradicate homophobic bullying, prevent sexist bullying, stop racist or disablist attitudes and curb Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. While it’s true that school can be seen as a microcosm of the world around us, teachers are doing their best to deal with a variety of issues that young people face in the twenty-first century.

Education staff can, as Schools OUT UK say, educate out prejudice, but schools are only one aspect of society. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is proud to be working as part of Black History Month, to play a role in supporting schools to work towards a fairer, more equal society. We help teachers, support staff, heads and lecturers to tackle racism and many other issues in the classroom, as well as in the staffroom. We believe that everyone has the right to be themselves and be respected for who they are.

ATL works in partnership with expert leading organisations, such as the NSPCC, Anti-Bullying Alliance, Stonewall and Women’s Aid to name but a few, and has established the Safer Schools Network (www.saferschools.org.uk). Here you will find resources, advice and guidance and blogs on a variety of issues such as FGM, HBT bullying, tackling Islamophobia. We believe in giving education staff the support they deserve, and so that must come from the best practice out there.