We all have policies; we monitor them, we evaluate them and every year or so we review them. Lynn Cousins suggests a different approach.

Ask yourself these questions and then discuss them with your staff. You should be able to change your policy from a filed-away document to a living reflection of your values.

Do you know where it is?

  • Filed away, or an active, well-used document?
  • How would your staff, trainees, or your parents answer this?

Actions: Make it part of your staff handbook.
Include it in your induction pack and trainers’ pack. Summarise it in your brochure; post a summary up for all to see.

What is your stated aim?

  • Is it expressed in broad, sweeping generalisations?
  • Is it idealistic?

Actions: Express it as a target or objective.Make it something that can be done, not just hoped for.

How will you, or your staff or your parents, know when/if you have achieved the aims [or your targets and objectives]?

Actions: Make it measurable. Change it each year, to make your policy dynamic.

Who is responsible for implementing the aims, targets or objectives of your policy?

  • If it’s everyone’s job it can become nobody’s responsibility.

Action Identify a named person for each target, so that things will happen.

Do you know your legal obligations?

  • Where can you find out about this?

Actions: Laws change, make it your business to know about any changes that affect you.

Do all members of your staff know what is contained in the policy?

Actions: Involve them in the review/rewrite.

Named person to report on progress towards targets, in your staff meetings. Discuss aspects of equal opportunities at your staff meetings:

  • issues of inequality
  • cultural characteristics
  • food that is acceptable or not to different children’s families in your setting
  • discuss terms such as ‘stereotype’ or ‘prejudice’ and find a
  • shared understanding.

And so on.

Some ideas for your aims, targets or objectives

Choose one per term, and focus on it and then absorb it as part of your everyday practice:

  • to audit books, removing any which discriminate by gender, race or ability
  • to replace books and play equipment with gender sensitive alternatives where necessary
  • to encourage and enable all children to use the outdoor play equipment
  • to introduce instruments and songs from a wide range of cultures in everyday music activities
  • to find out about foods familiar to different groups of our children and offer them to all if appropriate
  • to purchase or loan some bi-lingual story books
  • to encourage children to play across gender stereotypical roles
  • all staff to demonstrate non-stereotypical roles and behave in a non-discriminatory way.