Equality and inclusive practice

Children playing outside

Equality means being fair, respectful and recognising the individual needs and identities of all others. It also refers to the way we handle cases of prejudice and discrimination to ensure there is fairness in the process and outcome. Inclusivity recognises that every child is uniquely different and benefits from us all working together as a united community.

What does inclusive early years practice mean?

Inclusive early years practice is the development of positive attitudes, clear strategies and positive approaches towards equality within early years provision. It also means providing children with the best possible support during the earliest years of their learning and growing, so they can live a fulfilling and happy life both now and in the future.

Why is equality so important for our youngest children?

Equality means giving everyone that opportunity to reach their full potential and an equal chance to live their life as they choose. However. inequality in the UK is growing. Yet it is recognised that a fairer and more equal society benefits everyone and supports young children’s development, health, education and well-being.

In young children this means giving equal chances right from the very start of life and ensuring they are not denied opportunities because of their ethnicity or where they live. Children have the right to be included and any adverse attitudes and behaviour towards them should be addressed. Adverse behaviours generally arise from a lack of understanding and fear by the offender.  However, if this happens early on in life it can have a long-term impact on a child’s self-esteem, confidence and trust of others.

Early years settings are well placed to provide a safe environment where parents, staff and children can learn about each other’s differences and similarities and learn to empathise and value each other early on in life.

Which individuals are most affected by inequality?

Specific individuals and groups may encounter systematic, attitudinal and physical barriers to equality because of their personal circumstances and characteristics. There is some legal protection against this inequality called prohibited conduct, however, this is limited to nine defining elements called protected characteristics

Despite this legal defence, some of these ‘protected’ individuals in the UK still face disadvantage and discrimination. A report from the Equality Human Rights Commission found that prejudice is experienced across all protected characteristics: 

  • 29% of respondents to the EHRC survey felt strong discomfort with the idea of a connection to a family member with a mental health condition
  • 25% disabled people with a physical impairment reported experiencing prejudice because of their impairment
  • 54% of people from ethnic minorities said they had been a victim of ethnic or racial prejudice
  • 46% of lesbian, gay or bisexual people said they had experienced prejudice based on their sexual orientation
  • 44% of respondents were openly negative about Gypsy, Roma and Travellers. 

How can settings promote equality?

The Alliance supports settings to be inclusive by:

Any questions?

The Inclusion team is regularly asked a range of different questions about equality and inequality.

To help answer your queries, we have created a sample of the most frequently asked questions and our answers below, relating to these various areas:


Disability and special educational needs

Sex and gender


Race and ethnicity

Religion and belief

Sexual orientation

Pregnancy and maternity


Contact us

For more information call us on 020 7697 2557




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