Considerations for Equality and Inclusion

Having a diverse student population in itself does not make an organisation inclusive. One study argues that attitude towards inclusion has become the most important predictor of inclusive policy and action (15).
Schools that have attitudes that create positive impact highlight the importance of recognising the family’s subjective experience. Schools can consider three key concepts:

Culture

Culture also includes shared practices and normative behaviour. For some societies, this may include practices that others might find difficult to understand or may be quick to judge (Music, 2016). Cultural sensitivity is important to consider, especially when families from different cultures encounter professional services and may stop communication. Understanding rituals, superstitions and other behaviours around education may open up channels of dialogue, especially when the practice is deemed to be harmful.
Attainment is one of the most important and prevalent reasons for calling meetings but understanding cultural norms is important to reflect on here. Grading systems differ across the world and there may well be a cultural slant. For example, expectations of perfection and the possibility of attaining high marks runs throughout some education systems where scoring 90% is an indicator of a top grade. In other cultural systems, achieving a mark of 70% on an assignment is considered a very good grade in most levels of education.
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Society

Collectivist societies tend to place individual needs as secondary to the group, and behaviours and emotions are enacted in relation to others (16). This could cultivate a sense of conformity to the norm and this expectation can suppress emotions. Members of collectivist societies may internalise difficult situations with anxiety and shyness, whilst those in individualistic societies may act out, and show behavioural difficulties or self-promoting behaviours. An example is the association of negative attitudes with strict disciplinarians in Western societies; this approach to parenting is not associated with negativity in some non-western cultures. Understanding the societal beliefs of the families in a meeting might help interpret, predict and support behaviours in these meeting spaces.

Intersectionality

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Intersectionality is “a theoretical framework, or lens, that highlights the ways in which multiple intersecting social categories (e.g., race, gender, ability) and corresponding interlocking systems of oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, able-ism) affect people’s lived experiences” (17). Essentially this asks professionals to recognise that the experience of a single mother might be different if she were from a rich family, or educated, or from a certain ethnic group. The experience of all single mothers will not be the same.
John Burnham developed the mnemonic Social GGRRAAACCEEESSS, to highlight aspects of differences which contribute to how therapists construct their own reality, form social relationships and position themselves alongside a family (18). Burnham referred to the voiced and unvoiced, and the seen and unseen.
Consider what characteristics of the student and their families could affect a meeting, and how they should be taken into account. Think about how this might impact student relationships and consider how one’s own social graces bring judgement or bias into certain situations.
(15) Mwarari, C.N. (2020) ‘Head teachers’ attitude towards inclusive education the key predictor of effective implementation of inclusive education in public primary schools of Muranga county, Kenya’, ijebp. International Journal of Educational Best Practices (Online), 4(1), pp. 1–16. doi: 10.31258/IJEBP.V4N1.P1-16.
(16) Varela, R and Hensley-Maloney, L. The Influence of Culture on Anxiety in Latino Youth: A Review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review; New York Vol. 12, Iss. 3, (Sep 2009): 217-33.
(17) Shramko M., Pfluger L., Harrison B. Intersectionality and Trauma-Informed Applications for Maternal and Child Health Research and Evaluation: An Initial Summary of the Literature. University of Minnesota; Minneapolis, MN, USA: 2019. [Google Scholar]
(18) Burnham, J. (2011). Culture and reflexivity in systemic psychotherapy. Mutual perspectives. London,: Karnac Books.