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Diversity on the Doorstep: Mentoring for diversity in a predominantly monolingual area.
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Dr Heather Smith
Multiverse Research Project Report
17 October 2007
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In an area such as the North-East of England where only a minority of schools have black/minority ethnic and bilingual pupils, how can ITE providers ensure appropriate experiences for PGCE students which encourage their engagement with diversity issues, whilst avoiding placing an unfair burden on the very pupils and teachers who could support that learning? The creation of a specialist partnership group involving local schools, local minority ethnic achievement services, together with a local ITE provider, was the first step on the road to finding a mutually satisfactory solution to this problem.This report describes a small-scale Multiverse commissioned research study which sought to monitor the impact of the specialist partnership group (SPG) on its participants, the students and the PGCE course. The method and formation of such a group, as well as some of the issues raised in terms of mentoring for diversity more generally, may be useful to other ITE providers, particularly those working in a similar context.The research raised some key concerns in mentoring for diversity in terms of what and how this can be achieved, particularly in terms of the roles of and relationship between schools and ITE providers. Distinctive features of mentoring for diversity emerged within the study. The continued need for a specialist approach in mentoring for diversity was recognised, given the reality that many teachers, particularly in areas with few black/minority ethnic and bilingual pupils, are not ‘equipped to include' in their own practice. Also, participants felt that whilst other subjects require learning, mentoring for diversity often involves an initial ‘unlearning', to counter the stereotypes and common misconceptions students often bring to their studies.
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