‘Every child deserves the best possible start in life and the support that enables them to fulfil their potential’.

This is something we all agree with, but the world we live in does not offer every child the same opportunities to be all they can be – very far from it.

Over the past couple of years, movements such as Black Lives Matter and #Me Too have made us increasingly aware of the depth of inequalities in the UK, and the need to embrace and celebrate human diversity and think seriously about what inclusive practice really means for children and families.

At Young Friends we know that for outstanding equalities practice, ‘The provider goes beyond the expected and is highly successful at giving children a rich set of experiences that promote an understanding of, and respect for, people, families and communities beyond their own’.

Ethnicity, gender, culture, language, social class, poverty, being a refugee or asylum seeker, LGBTQIA+, disability and/or learning differences can all become excuses for prejudice and reasons to discriminate or exclude. It may be hidden and unconscious, based on unquestioned, historical and ‘traditional’ attitudes and ways of doing things, or it may be overt.

The consequences of ingrained negative attitudes to some groups of people have a huge negative impact on all children and families. Children learn from everything around them, whether intended or not. They soak up everything – all they see and hear influences how they feel about others and themselves, negative or positive.

How do we address inclusion and celebrate diversity at Young Friends?

  • All families have key people. This builds trusting relationships and provides families and children with a sense of belonging. This system also keys into our Prevent Duty procedures. Knowing our families ensures we spot signs for concern, so we can act accordingly.
  • Parents are encouraged to share aspects of their family life, language or culture that we can learn from or celebrate alongside our curriculum
  • Everyone’s first and home language is celebrated and acknowledged
  • Our children are in family groups consisting of mixed ages so they can develop at their own pace and not ‘age/stage bracketed.’
  • Our mixed age learning environment enables children to develop empathy and recognise and celebrate difference.
  • We have an inclusive ‘hidden curriculum.’ Books, experiences and resources (fabrics, foods, instruments and everyday items) reflect diversity.
  • Role play is used to explore difference, through superhero play and socio-dramatic play
  • We talk openly and positively about the reality of difference and similarities.
  • Our songs, music and stories come from a range of different cultures, traditions and languages.
  • Our daily trips place us in the local community and are a great way to begin conversations about every-day life in the place we live.
  • Our menu is plant based and can be eaten by all.
  • We are a completely Loose Parts kindergarten. Studies suggest that children do not explicitly exhibit stereotypical gender or age-exclusion behaviours while using loose parts.
  • We celebrate a nature calendar and do not put a strong emphasis on religious or cultural ceremonies unless our families request it.
  • We engage with outside organisations, e.g. BHISS and EMAS, to enable us to better support our children and families.
  • We are conscious of our language and try not to use ‘gendered terms’ and assumptions (e.g. ‘guys’ as a collective term). We are slowly adopting a culture of using they/them pronouns for all when speaking generally.
  • When chatting to children we use their actions as a ‘way in’ as opposed to how they look or what they are wearing. For example, ‘You seem full of beans today, and ready to get stuck into some play!’ We use stories and persona dolls* to support children to think through issues and develop empathy and understanding. Children are encouraged to chat about and research answers.


*Persona Dolls and their stories are a way to celebrate diversity, help children develop a positive attitude to difference, challenge stereotypes and prejudice and address new or underlying concepts (e.g potty training, teeth care, behaviour management).The approach involves a special kind of storytelling, using a child-like doll for which a ‘persona’ (unique identity and family background) has been created by the practitioners who will be introducing the doll to the children and devising the stories. The doll is not a toy, and is only used for the storytelling sessions.