Reflecting diversity in education and care

Diversity in the education and care profession has been a progressive movement.

Adult sat on sofa with children

The inclusion of qualified educators and teachers with varying cultures, languages, levels of experience, backgrounds and genders has become more prevalent in recent years, recognising the importance diversity plays in positive outcomes for children and their families. When all educators and teachers feel accepted and supported within their workplace, there is a positive impact on a more inclusive environment for children and their families. When children and their families feel both represented and accepted, they are more likely to build secure and trusting relationships with educators and have a strong sense of belonging within the service.

When educators engage in reflective practice with a culture of openness and trust, everyone has a voice and is listened to, not just the most senior leader or vocal members of the group, and opportunities for transformational change and quality improvements arise. Additionally, reflective practices that seek multiple perspectives from educators with diverse backgrounds, cultures, skills and knowledge lead to a positive work atmosphere, productive collaboration between educators and more advantageous learning opportunities for children.

Gender stereotypes

It is important to facilitate the success of every educator and teacher through organisational support that encourages them to participate in this work. Whilst research continues to evidence the importance of gender diversity, the sector remains a female-dominated profession. By encouraging men into the education and care workforce, what was once perceived as primarily “woman’s work” becomes a gender-neutral environment of like-minded professionals striving to provide children with the highest quality of education and care.

Research indicates that the presence of male educators and teachers within education and care service has positive educational outcomes for children. These include: 

  • a diverse expertise and perspective in learning experiences and education
  • a positive male role-model in children’s lives
  • Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF V2.0), Outcome 3 – Children have a strong sense of belonging, state that children are to feel safe to participate in all activities regardless of gender, age, culture or ability. Male educators and teachers assist in building children’s understanding of gender-diversity and reducing inherent gender-stereotyping. 
  • a different gender-perspective on play and learning, and approaches to engaging children in a wide range of learning opportunities.

Leadership

Establishing a work culture that encourages the participation of diverse educators and teachers in education and care services begins with leadership.

Effective leadership builds and maintains a professional workplace in which all members can communicate and raise issues openly, participate in respectful debate and contribute to each other’s ongoing professional learning (The Guide to the NQF). When service leaders create a positive workplace culture, they support every educator and teacher to build their professional knowledge and strengthen their relationships with children, families and each other.

Quality Area 7 of the National Quality Standard (NQS) states that 'effective leadership builds and promotes a positive organisational culture and professional learning community'. Valuing and encouraging educators who represent diversity provides benefits to the emerging and developing wellbeing of children. A leadership approach that recognises differences in culture, perspectives and gender orientation as strengths will assist educators of all different walks of life to look to early education as a prosperous career path.

Leaders could consider: