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What is meant by equal opportunities? How does the teacher cater for this in the classroom?

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What is meant by equal opportunities? How does the teacher cater for this in the classroom? The following pages will explain what the term 'equal opportunities' means and put forward some ideas as to how a good teacher can ensure he/she is practicing equality around the classroom by taking into consideration the sex, race, gender and special educational needs of their children. The National Union of Teachers believes that equal opportunities 'describes policies and practices which provide equal access and rights and seek to remove discrimination against people on the basis of sex, race, class, sexual orientation or disability.'(NUT) In short, equal opportunities are to treat all children equally based on their individual needs. No child should be subject to disadvantage and the Equal Rights legislation tries to ensure this. However, children are born with stereotypes and from an early age they are influenced by examples of sexist, racist and disablist attitudes, behaviour, images and language that they witness in everyday life. When a child is old enough to begin the socialisation process, they begin to observe the values and expectations of the society in which they live. Children are smart and can quickly determine the type of language, gender behaviour, culture and religion that is being practised around them. Subsequently, when a child is introduced to a learning environment, he or she will have already experienced the primary socialisation process from their family and home surroundings and will be ready to move onto the secondary socialisation stage. ...read more.


Children are disadvantaged by sex-role stereotyping because it limits their opportunities. If a child is told that he/she cannot do something because of their gender they will believe it and act like it is true. All professional teachers should avoid the gender stereotyping of young children and implement anti-sexist practices. Such practices could include avoiding negative examples of gender within books, nursery rhymes, wall displays and play related learning activities. Good practice should include being aware of the way in which gender stereotypes are being reinforced through language and phrases such as 'boys don't cry' and 'tomboy' should be avoided. Teachers should also ensure not to discriminate children by gender during playtime. For example, directing boys toward the climbing frames, building bricks and construction room whilst encouraging the girls to play in the home corner or library section is bad practice. Instead, let the children decide what they want to play with or try to mix groups of girls and boys together. The environment in which the children are being taught should also reflect the diversity of the two sexes. Although many primary teachers are female, it is important for schools to asses their staffing and management team as the people who are part of that system reflect role models for the class. For instance, many children in today's society are raised in broken homes where the only role model is their mother. They are sent to a school in which their learning environment is generally made up of a teacher and two to three teaching assistants, all female. ...read more.


This may include stammers, mispronunciation of words or not understanding the meaning and structure of the English language. To combat these problems schools should introduce a speech therapist to work with students during school hours and ask the child's parents to provide help after hours. A classroom assistant could also be designated a one on one period for a small amount of time every day with the pupil. Of course not all special needs are regarded as negative impairments. The gifted child for example is a child that is achieving standards beyond their chronological age. If a teacher identifies a gifted child within their classroom, an educational programme should be designed to fulfil the child's potential. Failure to do so may result in the child becoming bored, and boredom soon leads to disruptiveness. Taking everything within this essay into account, it is vital that teachers plan a curriculum that is meaningful to their children's values, cultures, languages, race, religion, gender, disabilities and lifestyles. Children need to explore concepts and ideas which will develop their understanding of racism, sexism, disablism and any other forms of oppression, therefore teachers must address negative attitudes and assumptions that focus on differences between us in a positive way. Equal opportunities applies to every child and it is important for teachers to be positive role models who have the knowledge and ability to select resources that reflect positive images for all children. If this is done correctly it is possible to stop girls thinking they are invisible in society, boys thinking they are the superior sex and black or disabled children thinking they are inferior. ...read more.

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