Equity over Equality: Occupational Therapy Week 2021

Equity over Equality

It is Occupational Therapy week, and the theme we are considering is equity in Occupational Therapy and healthcare. Equality means individuals or groups are given the same resources and opportunities. In contrast, equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the resources and opportunities needed for an equal outcome. There has been much controversy about the dynamics of equity over equality within an educational setting. So, this blog aims to delve a little deeper into the benefits of equity over equality and ways you can implement such into the schooling environment.

If the educational sector introduced equity over equality, how marvellous would it be? Encouragement and participation would go hand in hand; no student would feel that they are being set up to fail and instead feel inclusion in success regardless of their academic abilities.

Special educational needs are complex; there is no ‘quick fix’ nor should there be. However, with that in mind, surely the educational system realises that as diverse as its students are, so should the teaching be too, that equality, although great on paper, is not enough alone to support the needs of SEN students.

Paul Harris, the CEO of Tapscott Learning Trust, explains how having a ‘needs-based curriculum’ is crucial in students’ success within the academic environment. You can find out more about this and why he thinks equity over equality is vital in today’s educational sector.


Benefits to supporting Equity over Equality

There are several benefits to supporting and implementing equity over equality; we have listed a few below:

  1. Equal outcomes for all students
  2. Promotes fairness
  3. Educates students on the difference
  4. It gives SEND students a chance to achieve
  5. Develop students’ social-emotional development
  6. Opportunities for children to develop empathy
  7. Promoting and understanding diversity

Equity over Equality Factors

There are several important factors to consider when implementing throughout the SEND divisions, and we have listed them below:

Trained staff

The educational sector must train staff to high standards, so they can professionally support students with special educational needs. This should include booster training in specialist areas.

Passionate staff

Staff need to be passionate about helping students by consistently looking for solutions to problems and finding innovative learning resources. They should be actively booking training courses and showing an interest in progression for both the student and their profession.

Innovative solutions

Staff need to search for innovative and engaging ways for students to learn and be creative with the curriculum. Start thinking outside of the box; student’s needs to know no boundaries and require freedom, acceptance, and encouragement to excel.

Support parents

Staff should be available to support the parents of a child with special educational needs. They should be ready to listen to parents’ concerns, provide solutions to problems within their control and offer reassurance where needed.

We have discussed the many ways in which the special education departments within schools would benefit from a curriculum focused on equity over equality. How the forward-thinking and empowering techniques could help the lives of students and their parents and how introducing a ‘needs-based curriculum’ could allow for personal and academic growth for both SEN students and non-SEN students. However, will this be a thing of the future? Will schools get the go-ahead to teach outside of the box?

What do you think about equity over equality? Do you work in a school within a SEND department and feel that equity over equality would benefit the students? Perhaps you are a teaching professional with an equity over equality approach and find it works well. We would love to know your thoughts on this. Let us know what you think in the comments below or contact us directly here

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