Equal to the task ahead;Anti-racist books

25th June 1999 at 01:00
ACTION FOR RACIAL EQUALITY IN THE EARLY YEARS. By Jane Lane. The National Early Years Network. pound;10 + pound;2 pamp;p from 77 Holloway Road, London N4 8JZ

PLANNING FOR EXCELLENCE. Early Years Trainers. By Jane Lane. Anti-Racist Network, pound;7+pound;1.05, pamp;p PO Box 28, Wallasey LA5 9NP.

Action for Equality in the Early Years offers thoughtful and succinct help to early years workers who have faced substantial demands from the Department for Education and Employment's development plans, not least the equal opportunities strategy.

Jane Lane also provides an opportunity for them to deepen their understanding of the historical influences that have led to racist attitudes and behaviour in early-years workplaces. It's eminently practical suggestions should be an essential read.

The Government gives warm support to this book and its principles but unfortunately this support is not extended into its stance on citizenship.

Jane Lane rightly emphasises the importance of children learning to be "just and fair", as did the Crick report when discussing education for citizenship at key stage 1. But the recent DFEE proposals for personal, social and healthcitizenship education for this age group make no mention of justice. And fairness, instead of being promoted as one of the most important learning outcomes, is relegated to a virtual footnote. A dilution or an evasion? Either way, justice and fairness are not recognised as basic informing principles for citizenship education and it's thus a decidedly negative message for equal opportunities.

Planning for Excellence, based largely on the proceedings of an Early Years Trainers Anti-Racist Network conference, looks in more detail at the implications of implementing the DFEE guidance requirement for the equal opportunity strategy. It explores in detail what working alongside black and minority ethnic families means in practice, and examines the issues of working in largely white areas and establishing training for equality. Both publications have excellent reference sections and details about support groups.

Annabelle Dixon is a former 'TES' research fellow and a member of the primary sub-group of the Crick Report committee. She is research associate at the school of education, University of Cambridge

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