Date
17 July 2024

Value diversity

When we design learning environments proactively for variability, we anticipate and value the incredible strengths and diversity of all our learners. (CAST, 2018)

On this page:

Recognise diversity as a strength

Recognise diversity as a strength

Learn about diversity and equity with your students. See the Universal Design for Learning guide on this website for more information.

“Diversity” needs to be recognised as a strength for a future-oriented learning system, something to be actively fostered, not a weakness that lowers the system’s performance.

Diversity encompasses everyone’s variations and differences, including their cultures and backgrounds.

Rachel Bolstad and Jane Gilbert, with Sue McDowall, Ally Bull, Sally Boyd and Rosemary Hipkins

Create an inclusive, welcoming culture

Create an inclusive, welcoming culture

Inclusive education means all learners are welcomed by their local early learning service and school, and are supported to play, learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of life at the school or service.

  • Welcome all learners regardless of the complexity of their needs.
  • Develop systems for smooth and well planned transitions into school.
  • Work in partnership with learners, whānau, teachers, teaching assistants and support specialists to provide support from the outset.
  • Foster a caring, safe and respectful whole-school environment. 
  • Foster the identity, language and culture of all learners.
  • Share clear and specific expectations for the student’s individual learning journey.

Adapted from:

What an inclusive school looks like (PDF) – Ministry of Education 

Enhancing staff capability at Newtown School – Education Gazette

Why learner variability matters

Why learner variability matters

Dr Todd Rose, Harvard University, talks about why planning for variability is critical.

Know your learners

Know your learners

To plan learning experiences that will give all students opportunities to make connections to new concepts, teachers need to understand what each student brings to their learning.

Gather and analyse a wide range of information about learners, from:

  • achievement
  • observations 
  • conversations with them
  • conversations with their peers, families, and whānau.

Walk in learner's shoes

Walk in learner's shoes

Anita describes how she begins her planning thinking about the students not the content or activities.

Learn about diversity together

Learn about diversity together

Create opportunities to discuss and build shared understandings about diversity and valuing all learners.
  • Be open to learning from and with parents, whānau and your local community and make decisions together.
  • Engage in genuine dialogue with whānau and make decisions together.
  • Create multiple opportunities for your community to ask questions about inclusion and what it would mean for their own child.
  • Invite your community to see activities that explicitly model inclusion at your school, or at another school.
  • Offer presentations or workshops to parents and whānau about the value of including all learners.
  • Create opportunities for students and their whānau to share what valuing diversity means to them.
  • Be ready to articulate your vision for inclusion in language that your community can relate to.

Next steps

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action:

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