All pupils have the right to a broad and balanced curriculum. This must also be supported by high-quality teaching and learning experiences. Schools have a duty to ensure that all pupils have equal access to the curriculum irrespective of their background, race, culture, gender, additional need or disability. This is, not only the learning happening in the classroom, but everything which happens in the life of the school. Policies on inclusion and equality of opportunity can only be successful if they help to raise achievement and to promote self-identity and good relationships through the participation of all children and young people.
Promoting equality of access to the curriculum will maximise the personal achievement of children and young people. Equal opportunity does not mean treating pupils the same, but ensuring that the curriculum meets the individual needs of all pupils. This involves understanding the barriers which exist. Intervention strategies, such as additional support, can then be put into place at an early stage before children fall too far behind. High expectations, of all children, are fundamental to raising achievement. Participation involves everyone within the school.
There should be opportunities to talk to children and their parents about all aspects of the school and the curriculum. This could include the development and the review of school policies. Participation can be achieved formally through student councils and parents’ meetings. It may also take place in the classroom when children and young people can be asked about how they learn best, what works for them and what could be improved,. Schools must recognise and support all pupils’ access to everything that is happening in the school. This will promote a sense of belonging and self-esteem.
When children and young people are able to participate fully, they feel valued for who they are and the contribution that they make. This can be achieved by acknowledging and reflecting diversity within the school in the methods of teaching and the resources and materials used. Children and young people must also have the opportunity to become independent learners. When they are able to make choices, and have control of their own learning, children are more likely to be motivated and achieve their full potential. This gives children a feeling of self-worth and well being.