Date
23 February 2024

Use inclusive language

The language we use shapes our culture. Inclusive language celebrates diversity and is respectful to all people.

Use names not labels

Use names not labels

An individual’s preferred language should be honoured.

Talk with the student, the student’s whānau, team and community about preferred terms. 

Avoids phrases and words that may make people feel excluded and under-valued.

Use language to respect and celebrate diversity

Use language to respect and celebrate diversity

Use inclusive language to support diversity and challenge stereotypes, biases and discrimination.

An individual’s preferred language may differ from the following guide and should be honoured.

  • Identify people as individuals. For example, use “student" instead of "blind student" or use a student’s name rather than “down syndrome student”.
  • If a group membership is relevant, emphasise individuality first and avoid language that stereotypes or defines them by their disability, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status or membership in a particular group.
  • Reframe deficit group labels to focus on positive actions and support. For example, “literacy acceleration”, “strengthening hauora and wellbeing ” or “multilingual” rather than “target”, “at risk” or ”ESOL” students.
  • Embrace gender neutral and inclusive language. For example, use “parent” rather than “mother, father”, use “welcome friends and whānau” or “Hi everyone”.

Use anti-racist language and pronounce Māori correctly

Use anti-racist language and pronounce Māori correctly

“By being intentional about the words we use (and don't use), we play a small part in breaking the cycle of systemic racism.” Source: Anti-racist language guide - (University of Arizona).

Finnian Galbraith, year 11 student at Kāpiti College, talks about the importance of pronouncing Māori words correctly.

Review and develop inclusive language

Review and develop inclusive language

The language we use shapes our culture, expectations, and influences our actions.

Develop shared expectations for positive and inclusive language in all parts of the school.

  • Consider the language and terminology you currently use to identify students and discuss their progress, needs, and supports.
  • Reflect on whether the current language is respectful, accurate, useful, supports high expectations, and aligns with values and beliefs.
  • Check for deficit identifiers that lower expectations, affirm stereotypes or are discriminatory.
  • Ask students and whānau for feedback.
  • Refine and adopt agreed language and terminology.

Recognise the impact of words

Recognise the impact of words

A group of young people describe some of the questions they have been asked. Here are their responses.

Useful resources

Useful resources

te reo hapai

Te Reo Hāpai – The language of enrichment

A glossary of new words in te reo Māori related to the mental health, addiction, and disability sectors.

Publisher: Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui

Visit website

Website

Enhancing staff capability at Newtown School

Newtown School shows their commitment to being “everybody’s school”.

Publisher: Education Gazette

Visit website

Website

Use inclusive language to affirm diversity

Gender inclusive language and concepts.

Visit website

Website

Bias-free language

Guidelines for writing about people without bias. Provides examples.

Publisher: American Psychological Society

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Leading with moral purpose”:

Return to the guide “Leading schools that include all learners ”

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