Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Early Education and Parenting Support

Diversity, inclusion and equity in early education and parenting support, these key topics were discussed by a panel of experts who met online with over 80 participants during an innovative research forum as part of the British Council Higher Education season*.

Six key speakers spoke from research, policy and service provider perspectives to explore what is happening in the field around diversity and inclusion. From the UK there was a strong focus on the early stages of learning and how learners are seeing themselves. This was linked to “stereotype threat” and the powerful impact assumptions made about learners can have on their learning. It was suggested there needed to be more support to understand the most appropriate language to use and how to encourage people to use this language to talk differently about learners. This perspective was supported by another key speaker from the UK who shared insights into understanding what a diverse learner is and rather than labelling children, finding ways to support them in the right way at the right time.

The discussion from the Australian perspective reinforced these key issues and also highlighted the geographical issues in Australia and to what degree geographical location hampers the ability to access and participate in services. One of the big issues discussed was access to early education and care. Recently in Queensland, Australia a new kindy funding reform package was announced, however, it was indicated that there are still considerable concerns around inequitable access to care. In view of children who need greater access to early education and care, not taking up the offer to use these services or enrolling but not attending.

From a workforce perspective, the discussion centred on educator well-being and self-care. If educators’ well-being was high, then it was proposed there was a natural flow-on effect to the children in their care. There is no doubt high-stress situations cause tension in the mind and body which creates chaotic environments. It was recommended more needed to be done, to support and care for educators and thus create quality environments for young children.

It was agreed by all parties that there was still a lot to do in this area, yet collaboration, sharing of knowledge and ideas helps to expand our knowledge and glean new ideas and hope for families and children in the future. The Centre for Child and Family Studies looks forward to using its multidisciplinary research strengths in childhood and parenting research to further improve the lives of children and families. The Centre warmly thanks our key speakers for their willingness to share their valuable insights and perspectives on this topic.

*The British Council UK/Australia Season (the Season) is a joint initiative by the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to strengthen and build cultural connections. 

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