The article presents recent developments on the Diversity+ project and introduces a European Qualification profile (EQF Level 5) of the Diversity+ Ambassador active in Early childhood education and care environments, which is officially launched in July 2022. The article describes how the “European Qualification Framework of Diversity Ambassador in Early Childhood and Care (ECEC) environments” was developed and outlines the role of the Diversity+ Ambassador within the ECEC setting.
The foundations for successful lifelong learning, social integration and personal development are laid in the early years. This is the crucial phase of life to begin emphasising the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion values and behaviours. Although issues related to the inclusion of diversity are increasingly at the forefront in ECEC institutions, most ECEC staff are not specialists in this area and need guidance and support to understand how to address diversity issues.
The Diverstiy+ project seeks to contribute to solving this problem and has already developed several tools to support ECEC professionals in integrating diversity into ECEC institutions. As a first step, project partner organisations worked on creating the Diversity+ Charter, which sets out the minimum requirements that ECEC organizations needed to meet in order to consider themselves “Diversity positive”. The next step was to develop and design the Footprint Assessment Tool, which aims to support teachers, headmasters and other ECEC professionals to evaluate their diversity inclusive practices and improve them. To further support enhancing the quality of European ECEC settings, the Diversity+ project has developed a framework of qualifications for the role of the Diversity+ Ambassador within the ECEC.
With the launch of “European Qualification Framework of Diversity Ambassador in ECEC environments” in July 2022, the Diversity+ project has reached another important milestone. The main purpose of the EQF is to offer an answer to the question of what profile, qualities, knowledge, skills and attitudes a preschool teacher should have to well integrate inclusive approaches to the ECEC setting and to support colleagues in this respect. Finding an answer to this question required an in depth investigation.
The profile is based on research carried out in collaboration with all project partners and ECEC practitioners, methodologist and ECEC centre leaders within their national contexts (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, the Netherlands, the UK), aimed to identify what the skills, training and experience are needed to take on the role of the Diversity+ Ambassador. In parallel, an EU-level investigation has been conducted in order to highlight trends, practices, needs and challenges in the professionalisation of ECEC staff. The findings collected are presented in a formal skills profile based on the European Qualifications Framework – level 5. The final version of the profile was discussed and revised during a coworking session gathering education experts, organised in the frame of the transnational partnership meeting held in Leiden (May 12-13, 2022).
The EQF aims to improve ECEC HR management, to profile key knowledge, skills and attitudes required to respond to individual and group needs of children from different backgrounds and with special educational needs. Specific learning resources complement the EQF profile in order to smoothly develop the role of the Diversity+ Ambassador.
The development of the EQF was led by the Italian project coordinator CIAPE, and will be launched in multiple linguistic versions (English, Bulgarian, Slovak, Czech and Italian).
One year remains until the end of the Diversity+ project, when the partner organisations will intensively work on the development of the Diversity+ interactive scenarios – Serious Game addressed to ECEC practitioners to help children in recognizing and challenging bias, racism and prejudice.
Author: Romana Šloufová, Project Manager, Schola Empirica z.s.
All developed outputs of the project are available in English, Bulgarian, Czech, English, Italian and Slovak on the project website https://diversity-plus.eu/toolkit/.
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