Click here for a little video summary of what this blog is all about.
In September last year, Ofsted’s new inspection framework came into effect and with it, a new push towards inclusion and diversity.
Little Box of Books is supportive of initiatives that make learning environments more inclusive. While Ofsted may not be the right instrument to do this, and there is plenty of evidence from previous iterations of the framework to believe that, it’s heartening to see it in there.
This new framework does provide a great opportunity to discuss the best way to make our schools places where everybody is equal. We want them to be places where everybody receives the same level of education and where everybody feels like they can fit.
As schools get their heads around the new way of doing things and understand what’s expected of them, here’s a summary of what Little Box of Books can do to support a school if the inspectors come to call.
Ofsted inspectors are going to use something they’re calling ‘deep dives’ to inspect the curriculum at schools. (Don’t cringe at me, I didn’t name them. That’s their actual official name.)
Anyway, every primary school will have a reading ‘deep dive’ as part of their inspection. This will involve inspectors interrogating reading programmes throughout the school and asking questions.
Disappointingly, in the sample ‘deep dive’ questions shared online, there are no questions about having a diverse collection of books. But with new priorities articulated around inclusion and an emphasis on children needing to understand about protected characteristics, a diverse book supplier will work in a school’s favour.
Questions for teachers
Some of the reading questions that are being asked as part of the process are;
“What do you do to ensure pupils continue to make progress in reading in year 2 and beyond?”
“How do you…
…support teachers to make sure story-time is engaging?”
…select the books you’re going to read to children?”
…get parents to love reading to their children?”
All questions which reflect a focus on the importance of reading for pleasure.
So, how do you do those things?
Children are often much more engaged when they see themselves in stories. This will help some children to read, help make story time engaging and help some parents to start enjoy reading time. This could be because they see characters of the same race or culture in their books. It could be seeing a blended family likes theirs. It could be seeing a character with two mums or two dads. Or seeing a family who also live in a high rise.
Another way is to offer a diversity of genre. ‘Diverse books’ are not a genre but diversity of characters can be found in lots of different types of books. Little Box of Books has graphic novels, early chapter books, chapter books and picture books in collections for schools.
Schools have to promote respect for the protected characteristics in the new inspection framework. The Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of a protected characteristic. These characteristics are age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, race, sexual orientation, religion, marriage or civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity.
Inclusive and representative books will back up any lessons on these topics. They cement and role model positive attitudes through high quality, enjoyable stories.
It is essential for all UK primary schools to have inclusive and representative children’s books on their shelves. Diversifying school books is a small, but crucial and effective way of starting to embed equality in a school. It shows intent and motivation to change.
How can Little Box of Books help?
Here is how our book boxes can support teachers to mark well against the new four-point scale in the education inspection framework.
Quality of education:
“Give all learners… the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.”
Diverse books will equip children with cultural capital. It will help them to understand the world and their place in it.
Behaviours and attitudes:
“Relationships among learners and staff reflect a positive and respectful culture. Leaders, teachers and learners create an environment where bullying, peer-on-peer abuse or discrimination are not tolerated.”
A diverse bookshelf teaches children about the lives of people who may not be like them. It broadens their understanding of what normal is and can help to create a cohesive, kinder learning environment.
“the provider prepares learners for life in modern Britain by: − equipping them to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society − developing their understanding of fundamental British values − developing their understanding and appreciation of diversity − celebrating what we have in common and promoting respect for the different protected characteristics as defined in law.”
Diverse books give children the opportunity to meet with people from lots of different cultures. Seeing different practices and customs in the background of stories creates a new familiarity.
Leadership and Management:
“leaders have a clear and ambitious vision for providing high-quality, inclusive education and training to all. This is realised through strong, shared values, policies and practice”
To be truly inclusive, a school’s bookshelves need to be inclusive.
Books are a crucial part of every child’s education. It is essential that all children have access to books that feature characters reflective of the UK population. This will help them better understand the world and their place in it.
For information on how to diversify school bookshelves and libraries, contact us here.