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One-minute guide on equality, diversity and inclusion – Early years and childcare

The Ethnic minority and Traveller achievement service (EMTAS) describes strategies and guidance to improve your setting’s inclusive approaches, to improve the outcomes and well-being of children. 

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What does an inclusive practice mean?

Promoting diversity and equality of opportunity for all children to learn, grow and develop as well-rounded, accepting and kind individuals. It lays the foundation for children’s future learning, development and well-being.

You can create an inclusive approach through policies, training, curriculum design, and your strategy to meet the needs of the children in your care.

Inclusive practices are not to be applied solely to those children who fall under the protective characteristics, it’s a setting-wide approach.

Studies show that children under 5 can understand messages and ideas about race and infants as young as 6 months can see differences in skin colour.

Equality Duty

The Equality Act 2010 outlines your setting’s responsibilities in relation to the protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex and sexual orientation

Whilst giving due regard to

  • Eliminating discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and any other prohibited conduct.
  • Advancing quality of opportunity.
  • Fostering good relations between people.

To meet your equality duty you should:

  • Have a clear Equality policy, outlining your Equality statement and guiding principles.  It is useful to have parent/guardian input in the review of any policy.
  • Ensure a fair and accessible recruitment process.
  • Decide and publish (on your website) your Equality Duty objectives.  Usually around three objectives on areas your setting will be developing and improving on.
  • Review and publish your data annually on how you are meeting your Equality duty.
  • At least every 4 years review your Equality Duty objectives – looking at data and the impact of your actions.  Then set new objectives.
  • You should also be reporting incidents of bullying, prejudice and racism (BPRI) to the Local authority.  You can view the BPRI resource to better understand incidents as well as using the online reporting platform.
Nursery children sitting in a row


This checklist outlines strategies to help with your inclusive practice.

  • Have a Healthy relationships week which looks at positive healthy relationships and an understanding that we are all unique.
  • Review your reading list and the books that are available to your children.  Do they reflect the world, do they include ethnically diverse children, children with different family structures, or children with disabilities?  Books for Topics has a great reading list for EYFS.
  • Be mindful of the potential of systematic racism in children’s reading books.  Does the book you are about to use describe black or brown negatively?
  • Ensure Cultural Exchange is part of your curriculum. Consider how the environment enables children and their families to view diversity positively. This includes key cultural celebrations, and children experiencing music, tastes, and smells from around the world.  You can also invite in adults and other children from the community to share their cultures. The EMTAS website has key resources to help you with Cultural Exchange.  This forms part of Understanding the Word area of learning within the EYFS framework.
  • Have toys that represent all types of people, including those with different skin colour and disabilities.
  • Ensure your staff have sufficient Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training.  This is crucial as an inclusive practice includes staff who are confident at recognising different forms of prejudice, stereotyping and racism as well as how to manage incidents.  EMTAS can provide EDI training, please visit our shop.
  • Stay informed of updates, events and resources by signing up to the EMTAS newsletter.
  • Make reasonable adjustments to support your staff and the children in your care.
  • When talking positively to children about diversity, be mindful of any inherent biases you may have – as children can pick up on these cues.
  • Avoid using skin colour as an identifying term, however, acknowledge that everyone is different.  Don’t claim not to see a person’s skin colour, but rather ensure that children learn to take pride in their culture and history.
  • Be aware that ethnicity is not just about skin colour.  Racism can occur towards Travellers and European children and families.
  • Review your website, and graphics in publications – do they reflect the children and staff in your setting?   Only 4% of Devon settings have a visibly ethnically diverse child on their home website page.

Supporting English as an Additional Language (EAL) children

An EAL child is a child who comes from a bilingual family.  Including if only one of the parents is bilingual.

  • Book an interpreter for any parent meetings, including the ‘welcome’ meeting.  This is vital as often EYFS jargon doesn’t translate well on apps.
  • Ensure that parent/guardian newsletters are translated.  You can contact Multiligua who can do this for you.
  • Familiarise yourself with the EMTAS EAL Guidance.  This has information on all aspects of supporting EAL children.
  • Encourage parents to continue to develop their child’s home language, and you can do this in your setting too, using resources and bilingual books.
  • Include dual language labels around your setting.
  • Use the EYFS EAL proficiency assessment to monitor English language acquisition.

Useful websites and links