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Theory assignment 3

T3 – Discuss issues of equality and diversity and ways to promote inclusion with your learners. Review other points of referral available to meet the potential needs of learners.

Mortar board iconTask Notes: To start this task you will need to find definitions of the key terms: equality, diversity, inclusion and entitlement in relation to adult education.

You should find it quite easy to find definitions for equality, diversity and inclusion but entitlement might be more difficult although the following quote is a start:

‘Every learner has the right to expect that they will receive high quality learning, appropriate to their needs and circumstances in a safe and healthy environment’. (Success for All, DES 2002) PDF Icon

“You should demonstrate your commitment to equal opportunities through everything you say and do in your work with adult students.”  (Daines, Daines and Graham, 1993).

Think about the implications of this quote for providers of learning opportunities when they are setting up their courses.

Throughout these notes there are suggestions for additional research and reading – do not try to cover all of these. After you have read these notes, have a go at the activities and weblinks.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Have a look at the document:
Reisenberger A & Dadzie S (2002), Equality and diversity in adult and community learning – a guide for managers, Niace which you can access at PDF Icon

Promotion of equality in the classroom is not just an expectation; it is a requirement – remember the legislative requirements identified in T2.

Petty (1998:69) states:

All students must feel that they are positively and equally valued and accepted, and that their efforts to learn are recognised, and judged without bias. It is not enough that they are tolerated. They must feel that they, and the groups to which they belong (e.g. gender, social-class or attainment groups) are fully and equally accepted and valued by you, and the establishment in which you work’.

A ‘duty to actively promote’ equality of opportunity for disabled people was only placed on educational establishments under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.

Equality in education is not about treating everyone the same; it is about giving everyone an equal opportunity to access the learning experience.

Diversity is about celebrating people’s differences such as backgrounds, knowledge, skills and experiences, by encouraging and using those differences to broaden the learning experience.

To promote equality in your classroom you need to respond positively to the diverse needs of your learners. You should consider whether any of the following is relevant to your teaching role;

  • how you communicate with learners (make sure they can understand –  use appropriate vocabulary and terminology, ensure your comments will not be taken as discriminatory or offensive, check that your body language is appropriate);
  • the resources you use (consider whether they could be viewed as discriminatory or stereotypical and that are they suitable for the learners’ needs);
  • the teaching methods (make sure all learners can participate and that the methods are varied and support all learning styles);
  • the environment (give learners opportunities to establish working relationships effectively, ensure everybody is being included, check that the room is accessible and safe especially for people with sensory disabilities or lack of mobility).

Inclusive teaching and learning is only possible when equality and diversity policies are positively promoted. Inclusion means that learners’ needs (and an individual learner may have more than one need) are appropriately met to enable full participation in the learning process.

Inclusive practice relies on a range of differentiation strategies which could include some of the following:  additional classroom tutor support (or learning support assistant), adapted or specific resources, peer support; varied presentation; content selection; reducing or increasing time for activities or expected output.

Consider the scenarios below and think about the inclusive strategies that would be needed to support the learners. If you are not sure, please contact your tutor.

  • Richard has difficulty with his reading and writing. He is on a catering programme and hopes to get a qualification so that he can find work. His inability to read the recipes provided by his tutor is proving to be a major block to his progress. What could his tutor do?
  • Mary has enrolled on a Creative Crafts course. She has hearing difficulties and will need additional support. What will Mary’s tutor need to find out about Mary?
  • Michael has just started teaching a return to work course being offered to people who have been unemployed for over a year. On the first session he discovers that the group is very diverse and he will need to include some study skills for those who left school with no qualifications. Others in the group are able to write effectively but lack the ability or confidence to present themselves positively at interviews. How can he include all the learners without dividing the group?

Points of referral

Although inclusion is about supporting learners’ needs, it is not always possible for teachers to do this without support themselves. You should be aware of the limits of your responsibility and know when and where to access support both for yourself and your learners.

If you have a line manager, he or she should be your first point of contact for referral. If you have team meetings or contact with other teachers, your colleagues may also be able to help through their own previous experiences.

Support may be available in your own organisation, through a learning support department or from Skills for Life specialists. Some organisations have specialist resources for supporting disabled learners or may be able to provide a learning support assistant.

It may be appropriate to refer a learner for an Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) session either within your own organisation or to an external organisation. Have a look at this report: PDF Icon

Many of the voluntary and charitable organisations have websites with advice about teaching strategies to support people with sensory or physical disabilities or may be able to supply resources.

Points of referral will differ according to the type of organisation you work in; it is your responsibility to find out what support is available locally.

PowerPoint Icon View Identifying Student Needs PowerPoint file before moving on.


Petty G (1998), Teaching Today, Nelson Thornes.

Reisenberger A & Dadzie S (2002), Equality and diversity in adult and community learning – a guide for managers, Niace Available at: PDF Icon

DES (2002), Success for All, Available at: PDF Icon

DES (2003), Information, Advice and Guidance for Adults The National Policy Framework and Action Plan, Available at: PDF Icon

Brain IconTopics to research/review:

You now need to consider the following through research and further reading:

  • Equality and diversity.
  • Stereotyping.
  • Inclusion.
  • Differentiation.
  • Points of referral (local).
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
  • Malcolm Knowles’ Andragogy.
  • Motivation Theories.

Pen in hand IconActivities


PC iconAssessment task


Web iconWeblinks



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