Sunday, 22 January 2012

Teach diversity? We live diversity

My daughter has started nursery and on the first settling in day where I had to leave her for a short while and entertain myself I went to the library round the corner from the building and looked up the Ofsted report. I’d read it before but wanted to reassure myself that we weren’t leaving her somewhere grossly inappropriate.

The report is ok. It’s not totally brilliant, but not awful either. It’s one of the tools we used to select a nursery, along with cost, convenience, safety and atmosphere. Above all, in fact, atmosphere. Would our daughter be happy and well cared for were the main questions we asked ourselves.

But there is one particular line in the Ofsted report that I find particularly irritating. It says “The promotion of inclusion and diversity is generally satisfactory; although not prominent in feature at the setting.”

This nursery is in Haringey, one of the most diverse areas in the entire country. Over 120 languages are spoken by its residents. And the nursery, while not representative of local families financially (due to the cost of childcare), is pretty representative ethnically. The children and the staff come from many cultures. There are several languages spoken, talks by parents on where they come from and displays about different countries. And while I can see that in less diverse areas specific promotion of diversity and inclusion might be needed, my daughter, and the kids at her nursery, live diversity every day. In the people who look after them, the kids they are looked after with, the streets they walk down, the shops they pass, the homes they come from. In fact if she was to be taught about the real world in which we live she’d need the specific promotion of the fact many places are homogenous and some people are bigots. Yet they call the promotion of diversity satisfactory. Well I think it’s outstanding.

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