Why we need anti-racism training in the early years

We deplore the recent article by The Telegraph which singled out Liz Pemberton for criticism of her anti-racism training, which she has delivered for many clients including local authorities.

The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (as recently revised by the current Conservative government) states that: “The EYFS seeks to provide: …equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice, ensuring that every child is included and supported.”  It also states that, “Providers must follow their legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 including the fair and equal treatment of practitioners regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.” 

It is entirely right that training should be provided to practitioners on this aspect of the Statutory Framework, as on all their responsibilities. 

The types of training listed by the article, are also in line with the non-statutory Development Matters guidance published by the DfE which says that practitioners should:

  • Help children develop positive attitudes towards diversity and inclusion.
  • Help all children to feel that they are valued, and they belong
  • Choose books which reflect diversity.
  • Model positive attitudes about the differences be-tween people including differences in race and religion. Support children’s acceptance of difference. Have resources which include:
    • positive images of people who are disabled
    • books and play materials that reflect the diversity of life in modern Britain including racial and religious diversity
  • Ensure that resources reflect the diversity of life in modern Britain
  • Use a diverse range of props, puppets, dolls and books to encourage children to notice and talk about similarities and differences.

We affirm our support for the vital work that Liz and other practitioners do to promote awareness and understanding of anti-racism and discrimination, including her contribution to the recent Birth to 5 Matters guidance.  This must not be shut down by ad hominem attacks, but should be part of an ongoing public debate about the lived experience of racism in our society and how it can be addressed.