Dancing for diversity!

Education Scotland is taking forward capacity building activities to promote diversity and equality. At the end of November we held a very successful national conference on this in Glasgow, which was attended by over 150 participants.

The agenda included 13 workshops of best practice in eliminating discrimination, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations; several displays and stalls; an update from Education Scotland; and a keynote address from the Minister for Learning Dr Alasdair Allan, welcomed and introduced by Mary Hoey.

David Watt, Lead Officer for Diversity and Equality in Education Scotland said, ‘The day proved a great success for all who attended. Education Scotland was very pleased with the quality of the workshops and the tremendous range of equality issues featuring across the 13 workshops from early years to further education. Education Scotland’s corporate plan sets out our aim of eradicating inequity. The workshop presenters promoted the set of inclusive practices that contribute to this aim’.

Stalls exhibited materials from a number of our key groups such as Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland (BEMIS), Scottish Traveller Education Programme (STEP) who act on behalf of Gypsies and Travellers, EIS Equalities Committee, Show Racism the Red Card and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Highlights of the conference included children and young people giving their views of how they are successfully gaining the capacities of Curriculum for Excellence in the context of promoting diversity and equality. Young people from Bellahouston Academy set out a wide range of peer support, children from St Stephen’s Primary mentioned their pride in their International Day, children from Thorntree Primary highlighted the positive contribution they make as children of Showpeople and young people from Broxburn highlighted how they educated the educators about LGBT issues in their community.

As well as the children and young people contributing, delegates were able to choose from a truly diverse set of workshops from early years to colleges and communities. St Peter’s Primary Early Years staff shared their practice in working with the Polish community in Edinburgh and workshops from staff and students from further education mapped out their successes with learners who benefitted from more chances in their education. Bridging the Gap from Glasgow indicated their work with its underlying consideration of social justice in the south side of Glasgow. Kyle Academy staff and partners showed the impact in closing the gap and reducing the effect of inequalities. Grange Academy spoke and signed their approaches to inclusive practices for diverse groups of learners including young people who are deaf. Our conference was accessed by a number of participants through the provision of BSL interpreters.

As well as workshops delegates were treated to the dance performance from young people from Pilrig Park School in Leith. The young people’s enthusiasm, grace, intensity and pride was evident in their performance which was around the theme of Children’s Rights. They danced the dance of putting Children’s Rights into action! Their next show in June in the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh will draw inspiration from the Commonwealth Games.

Evaluations and tweets from participants were very positive and many commented that they looked forward to the next event.