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Issues of Inequality in Early Childhood

Children form an essential part of society since they sustain its progression through the transition from the older generation. Ensuring that children acquire the necessary and practical education regardless of their physical and intellectual abilities is essential in raising a resilient society. The equality issues are because children living with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and those from marginalised communities do not access legally stipulated laws and policies. This reflective essay focused on three main inequality areas: SEND, age, and marginalised groups. The primary aim is to examine why the issues of inequality are essential and how they impact children, families, and staff in early learning settings. The evidence reveals that social and cultural imbalances create systemic barriers to SEND and marginalised children’s ability to acquire appropriate knowledge compared to their non-disabled colleagues from mainstream communities. Besides, a lack of equality prevents parents from marginalised groups from supporting their children in attaining desirable academic goals. In addition, inequalities hinder professionals in the early learning setting from identifying the requirements for children living with special needs and those from marginalised communities. The evidence drawn from examples of practice was essential in ensuring anonymity. Important laws under consideration include the Equality Act, Education Act 1996, Children and Families Act 2014, and Race Relations Act 1976. Although laws and policies exist to promote equality across the United Kingdom (UK), they are less effective in providing SEND and marginalised children with access to appropriate education and create systemic barriers for parents and staff in early learning settings.


Importance of SEND in Early Childhood

SEND is an important area of equality since it impacts outcomes in early childhood education. Social theories postulate that civilisations create community-based and physical disabling barriers to SEND learners (Dickins, Denziloe & National Children’s Bureau 2003, p. 7). The social models result from the acknowledgment that problems experienced by SEND learners are beyond their families’ abilities. The Inclusive Practice Project at Aberdeen University focuses on teacher training to understand children’s needs (Roffey & Parry 2014, p. 64). This inclusive program results from realising the importance of identifying the problems affecting SEND learners. Hence, SEND is an important area of inequality since it influences education outcomes in early education settings.

Specific Legislation Relating to SEND

Special educational needs (SEN) policies define desirable recipients as children with physical disabilities or intellectual challenges. The Education Act 1996 defines children with learning difficulties as those with more significant problems acquiring knowledge than most of their age mates or with physical limitations preventing them from using instructive facilities (Runswick-Cole 2011, p. 114). This law regards children with SEN as those who face difficulties benefiting from learning resources provided in their locality. The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) in 1974 encouraged discussion, development, and dissemination of a wide range of policy and practice issues that relate to service provision and support for children and young people living with disabilities and SEN (National Children’s Bureau Enterprises Ltd 2003, p. 1). Creating awareness of the needs of disabled children and their families can support an inclusive education system. Such requirements result from the realisation that mainstream schools can cater to educational needs among SEN and disabled children if compatible with parents’ wishes and provide efficient education for other children.

SEND and Impact on Children, Families, and Staff

SEN policies ensure that children access appropriate support to gain desirable knowledge. For instance, special educational provisions for children aged two or more reference additional training requirements that differ from those provided in mainstream or private schools (Department for Education & Department of Health 2015, p. 16). These SEN provisions include any required requirements to support the acquisition of desired knowledge. Section 19 of the Children and Families Act 2014 encourages the local authorities to consider the views, wishes, and feelings of children and young people with disabilities and SEN (Department for Education & Department of Health 2015, p. 19). These requirements encourage educational providers to design learning strategies to benefit the target children with SEN while engaging their parents in making important decisions. Hence, current SEN policies are instrumental in ensuring that children receive desirable to support in learning.

SEN and equality policies require the involvement of parents, schools, and teachers in promoting learning. According to Feiler (2010), the successful education of children with SEN depends upon the full involvement of parents and professionals (p. 3). SEN learners can acquire the necessary knowledge only if parents and professionals become equal partners in the educational process. Part 6 of the Equality Act of 2010 stipulates the duties of schools as making reasonable adjustments for disabled children to accommodate children with disabilities and SEN (Office for Disability Issues 2010, p. 49). This endowment compels schools to make the necessary arrangements to promote equality in learning. Thus, SEN and equality policies provide the desirable foundation for parents, teachers, and schools to collaborate in supporting learning for all students, irrespective of their physical or intellectual abilities.

My Practice

I support children living with SEND to ensure they achieve desirable attainment in early education. I have participated in several initiatives to create public awareness about SEND among parents and teachers. Such initiatives aimed to ensure that stakeholders in early education understand their role in supporting children with special needs learning in mainstream schools. These initiatives result from the belief that all children have equal rights to education and those in the SEND category should have equal opportunities to learn in mainstream schools.

Examining and Evaluating My Practice

My practice of supporting children in the SEND aligns with the ongoing need to promote early childhood education. Recent research data reveals that approximately 262,400 pupils on SEN support had “speech, language, and communication needs” as the common type of requirement (Department for Education 2022, p. 7). This example shows the need to support children with special needs like autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) in developing speech and reliable communication abilities. Children with ASD can improve their communication and speech when integrated into schools, with most students without SEN. However, only 2.6% of SEN children attended mainstream schools, where non-SEN learners ranged between 85.2% and 87.8% (Department for Education 2022, p. 13). The low number of SEN children in early education exists despite the evidence that interacting with non-SEN colleagues can improve the rate of learning. This justification aligns with my practice of supporting holistic learning among SEND learners in ordinary schools.

Evaluation of Other’s Practice

Inclusive education strategies effectively address inequalities that prevent families from supporting their SEND and align with my initiatives. According to Runswick-Cole (2011), inclusive schools sort and categorise children living with disabilities and restrict them in appropriate areas to access education and social experiences that meet their fundamental needs (p. 116). This process ensures that children access the necessary learning resources and support. Schools that adopt inclusive initiatives engage families and other stakeholders to design suitable education structures for SEND students in early learning settings.


Adopting inclusive education strategies challenges existing inequalities and ensures the appropriate inclusion of a full curriculum in early education. Inclusive education thrives in schools that embrace collaborative teamwork, shared framework, family involvement, public educator ownership, effective support for staff, and meaningful Individual Education Plans (IEPs) (Florian, Rose & Tilstone 2002, p. 17). Such schools create strong professional and social networks to identify and meet the unique learning needs of children with SEND who come from ostracised groups. Inclusive educational practices rely on structural approaches to childhood that acknowledge the social category of children based on chronological age (Alanen & Mayall 2001, p. 20). Such educational initiatives consider how age influences social well-being among learners to support the adoption of working solutions. Existing research evidence reveals that people must see children as active in constructing and determining their social lives, those around them, and their societies (James & Prout 2003, p. 7). Staff in the early learning setting and parents should acknowledge these elements and provide children SEND from marginalised groups with the necessary support to achieve desired academic goals. Hence, inclusive practices are essential in helping working parent-child relationships in an early learning setting to ensure children with SEND learn effectively.


Importance of Age in Early Childhood

Age is an important area of equality that determines a child’s success. The convention of the Rights of the Child restricts people under 15 years from engaging in some activities like war (UNICEF n.d., para. 2). Existing laws protect children from participating in work, war, sex, or voting. The number of children in the UK is projected to decrease by 1.1 million by mid-2030 (Office for National Statistics 2022, para. 32). Such age projections are necessary for supporting effective planning for early education. Hence, age is an important area of equality because it determines when children can enjoy some rights and supports early education system planning.

Specific Legislation Relating to Age

The UK has different legislations that relate to age as an important area of equality. The child employment law restricts the age that juveniles can access part-time employment to 13 years (UK Government 2012, para. 1). This law exempts children who work in television, theatre, and modelling industries from working below the minimum age of 13. The law on the age of criminal responsibility imposes an age limit of 10 years (UK Government 2011, para. 1). Police in the UK can arrest and prosecute children aged between 10 and 17 who engage in criminal activities. Other laws restrict the age at which people can exercise democratic rights through voting. For instance, children in the UK can vote after attaining the age of 18 years (Uberoi & Johnston 2020, para. 2). Below this age, the law prohibits juveniles from engaging in political activities. Hence, the UK government has specific laws restricting children’s employment, criminal accountability, and voting.

In addition, the UK has laws restricting children from accessing inappropriate content. The report by Department for Education et al. (2011) recommended an imposition of music video restrictions to prevent children from buying sexually explicit media content (para. 9). Such policies are instrumental in ensuring that children access appropriate materials that align with their learning needs. The UK government proposed easing parents’ ability to block their children’s adult and age-restricted material from the Internet (Department for Education et al. 2011, para. 11). Such policies allow parents to restrict the content children must access at the point of purchase. Hence, the UK government has laws restricting the media content children can access through conventional media or the Internet.

Age and its Impact on Children, Families, and Early Education Staff

Age impacts children, families, and teachers differently in an early education setting. Age determines the learning content that should access and grants parents greater authority in regulating juveniles (Department for Education et al. 2011, para. 23). In practice, existing restriction policies grant parents greater authority in controlling the knowledge that juveniles acquire at specific ages. For instance, stakeholders in early education in Nordic countries adopt a child-centred perspective that adapts cultures of ECEC (early childhood education and care) and schools to a child’s needs (OECD in ‘school fiction’ warning 2017, para. 4). This example implies that teachers and other staff in early education setting must incorporate a child’s learning needs into the curriculum to promote learning. Hence, age influences parents and teachers’ strategies to ensure that children in early education acquire the necessary knowledge.

My Practice concerning Age

I believe in providing age-appropriate learning content for juveniles. For instance, teachers should understand every child’s learning needs and develop an evidence-based approach to ensure that they grasp the age-related content effectively. Such initiatives can ensure that all learners acquire the appropriate knowledge at the right time, irrespective of their physical or intellectual abilities.

Examining and Evaluating My Practice

Exposing children to age-related materials can promote holistic development among juveniles. According to Hyder (2005), children from countries like Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Vietnam, Somalia, and Iraq are victims of the technological development of modern weaponry (p. 25). Exposing children to modern weapons does not align with their learning needs. The persistence of specific professionals like community workers, interpreters, and teachers was regarded as a critical factor that could contribute to successful engagement with children in marginalised families (Marginalised groups: Hard to reach and most excluded groups, n.d., p. 15). These professionals can play an important role in promoting age-related curricula in early childhood learning. These examples align with my practice of promoting age-appropriate learning among juveniles.

Examining and Evaluating Other’s Practice

Providing children with age-appropriate learning in the UK aligns with early childhood learning goals. For instance, patterns of immigration for work and class and income inequalities create significant differences between communities where children live and their social experiences (Moss 2016, p. 44). Children from immigrant families in the UK are more likely to experience undesirable growth and development than those from native families. However, providing age-related learning content for all learners, irrespective of their family background, can eliminate inequalities in early childhood education.


Providing age-related education can reduce inequalities in early childhood education and ensure inclusion in the full curriculum for all children. The inclusion process involves adopting a coherent approach for identifying, understanding, breaking down barriers, participating, and belonging (Early Childhood Forum & National Children’s Bureau n.d., p. 2). Early education workers can adopt inclusion strategies to support a cohesive teaching process by providing an age-appropriate curriculum. Other advantages of collaborative strategies in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) include sharing reciprocal information relating to diet, behaviour, medical needs, abilities and disabilities of the child, and language spoken in the setting (Borkett 2018, p. 120; Nutbrown, Clough & Atherton 2013, p. 8). Such information lets parents understand the most appropriate resources for their children, depending on their age. Hence, providing age-appropriate content through collaborative approaches can ensure equal curriculum inclusion for all children.

Marginalised Groups

Importance of Marginalisation in Early Childhood

Marginalised groups are an important area of equality that determines education attainment outcomes in early childhood. For instance, Gypsy and Traveller communities experience immense disparities due to social exclusion, leading to poor academic achievement, employment outcomes, and barriers to accessing healthcare (House of Commons 2019, p. 17; Cemlyn & Clark 2005, p. 151). Families from these communities lack abilities to meet their children’s educational and developmental needs due to racial marginalisation. Children from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities experience bullying at school or experience restricted entry to pubs and cinemas (House of Commons 2019, p. 25). These experiences impact family income levels negatively and may undermine parents’ ability to support their children’s educational goals. The racial discrimination experience among children from Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities may hinder their abilities to learn effectively. Therefore, cultural marginalisation undermines equality in educational attainment among children.

Specific Legislation relating to Marginalised Groups

Equality Act is fundamental in ensuring that marginalised groups enjoy similar rights to people from dominant groups. The equality laws developed between the 1960s and 1990s required people of race, gender, and physical abilities to receive fair treatment (Government Equalities Office 2011, p. 4). The new laws had provisions for men and women to receive equal treatment, including the same salaries and jobs. Besides, the law required people living with disabilities to receive equal and fair treatment. The equality act of 2010 protected some aspects like age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage, civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation (‘SE 5059 Challenging inequalities: Adults and young children – age and inequality’ n.d., p. 4). This equality act eliminates the previous gaps in policy to ensure that less disadvantaged groups access fundamental rights and privileges. The equality law protects the rights and privileges of marginalised groups (Equality Act 2010 2010, para. 6). Children from marginalised groups experience substantial and long-term adverse effects on their ability to pursue education. Hence, the Equality Act 2010 extends the protections to enhance the efficacy of protecting people from marginalised groups.

Impacts on Children, Families, and Early Years Staff

Cultural marginalisation encourages families and teachers to adopt innovative strategies to support children’s learning goals. According to Wilkin et al. (2010), engaging Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller families and community members in the life of the school can increase participation in educational visits and extra-curricular activities (p. 7). This example implies that marginalised families can only support their children to learn effectively after accessing adequate school support. Some of the proposed strategies to improve the academic attainment of Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller pupils include engaging parents, raising expectations, personalised approaches, additional support, and school ethics (Wilkin et al. 2010, p. 18). Teachers in their early years should play a central role in initiating and supporting these initiatives. Hence, the negative impacts of marginalisation encourage parents and teachers to adopt practical solutions to address early education goals.

My Practice and Marginalisation

I appreciate education systems that address racial discrimination issues. For instance, all children have equal rights to access education regardless of their cultural background. Discriminating against people from minority cultural groups denies children equal opportunities to access early learning. I believe in establishing inclusive education systems where children from minority groups learn in mainstream schools without experiencing discrimination or substandard services.

Examining and Evaluate My Practice

My practice aligns with the UK government’s efforts to protect marginalised communities in the education sector. For instance, the Race Relations Act 1976 prevents education authorities from discriminating against people when exercising functions under the Education Act (UK Government 1981, para. 119). This law implies that learning institutions should provide children from all racial backgrounds with equal educational opportunities. Such initiatives align with my desired practices to promote racial equality.

Examining and Evaluate Other’s Practice

The initiatives by the UK government to support minority groups can promote educational attainment. For instance, the government proposes to engage Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller parents in promoting educational outcomes (Wilkin et al. 2010, p. 18). Such initiatives ensure that children from these communities engage in desired learning. Besides, engaging parents can assist in identifying existing barriers to early education attainment.

Marginalised Groups, Inequalities, and Curriculum Inclusion

Collaborating with and supporting marginalised communities in early education addresses existing inequalities and promotes curriculum inclusion for all children. For instance, engaging Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller families and community members in early education can increase participation in learning (Wilkin et al. 2010, p. 7). This solution enables parents from these marginalised communities to appreciate the role of education in their children’s lives. The resulting enlightenment can support parents and teachers in overcoming existing barriers to ensure appropriate education attainment.


The UK has various laws and policies to promote equality and support marginalised groups. However, such laws are less effective in ensuring that children with SEND and from marginalised groups engage in effective learning. Children are essential to every society regardless of their physical and intellectual abilities. Children living with SEND or those from marginalised groups require adequate support to ensure that they acquire desired knowledge compared to other healthy learners. However, existing policies are less effective in providing SEND and marginalised children access to an appropriate education. The lack of adequate legal support and structures creates systemic barriers for parents and staff in early learning settings to support children with special needs. The evidence presented in this essay shows that promoting inclusive education systems can reduce existing inequalities. Such initiatives should encourage collaboration between parents, teachers, and children. The key stakeholders in the education sector should use evidence-based initiatives to develop practical solutions to support SEND and marginalised children. Collaborative approaches that promote inclusion are suitable solutions since they provide an appropriate way to identify and address existing inequalities. Teachers and parents should collaborate in identifying specific learning needs for SEND and marginalised learners in early education and develop practical solutions. Besides, adopting joint planning for identified needs among SEND early learners can support the elimination of the existing inequalities. Stakeholders in the early learning setting should collaborate in planning for the specific conditions that affect people from a particular society. Other essential strategies for addressing disparities include promoting inclusive practices that enhance the parent-child relationship. Parents from marginalised communities to children with SEND should acknowledge the challenges hindering early infant learning and development and provide the required social support. These recommendations focus on identifying problems, developing solutions, and implementing working strategies that meet the diverse needs of SEND and marginalised children.

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