Addressing Inequality and Difference in Educational Practice

MQF Level: 7

Contact Hours: 15

ECTS Value: 3 ECTS

Self Study Hours: 36

Assessment Hours: 24


Overall Objectives and Outcomes

Over the years, the concept of unity in diversity was not implemented effectively. For, to achieve unity in diversity, acceptance and integration there needs to be understanding and this can only be achieved through education. Healthy multicultural environments can only be achieved through a conducive learning environment where students are taught about identity, disability, different cultures, religions and traditions.

Discrimination, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia can only be mitigated if addressed more profoundly within the classroom. Both students and teachers come to school with preconceived ideas which may do more harm than good. Thus, educators too need to first be aware of their own biases by embracing deeper their own identities and acknowledging any ideologies they might have because of their own backgrounds and experiences. For educators to be able to delve into equity they also need to understand privilege and engage in critical discussions on how this might lead to diverse outcomes within a classroom context. This module is mainly intended to help educators become critical of education policy and practice at macro and micro level with regard to how these facilitate or inhibit equality and integration in society and the community. Course participants will be expected to identify and develop their own personal position and to challenge normative assumptions with a view to promote transformation towards equity and social justice by mainly engaging with the Early Leaving from Education and Training Policy (and other related ones such as the Inclusion policy) that was specifically developed to minimise educational disadvantage within schools.

This module empowers educators to critically reflect on how to address inequality and difference within the classroom by developing a whole school approach to student learning. It provides  them with the right tools to identify students at risk of experiencing disadvantage and to engage with multiple stakeholders including students’ from diverse backgrounds. The course also provides, course participants with tools and pedagogical assistance on how to address sensitive situations in the classroom like, disability, socio-economic barriers, racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, extremist views and radicalisation through a case study approach and by utilising the equity-literacy framework.  It helps them teach students how to be critical about what they see on TV, on the net and on social media as well as punctuating events around the world. Through the tools provided, it will help them to tackle inequalities and differences in schools by developing a sustainable action plan.

As course participants progress through the module they will be encouraged to engage with critical theory, case studies and social justice literature to investigate equity and diversity to transform their practices making them more inclusive.  Themes of ethnicity, disability, religion, gender and poverty and the interaction between them will be considered, with an emphasis on how they influence the individual and his socio-cultural context.

By the end of this programme, participants should be able to:


a. Analyse relevant policy and practice related to inclusion in education;

b. Demonstrate an understanding of the effects of discrimination, inequality on students’ educational process;

c. Reflect on personal histories, cultures, values and attitudes to establish their positionality with regard to inequality and difference;

d. Create a harmonious environment for all students in the school and/or classroom;

e. Plan tasks and activities that promote an equal level playing field for all the students in the classroom to succeed;

f. Engage in effective communication with the students when sensitive subjects about citizenship, values, religion and traditions arise in the classroom;

g. Evaluate their practices proposing adequate changes and/or improvements for more inclusive classrooms.


a. Clearly convey the message to students that independently from their identity with its multifaceted aspects , democratic values are there for everyone to respect and safeguard.

b. Introduce reforms or indeed new measures to facilitate integration and acceptance of foreign students to meet their needs. E.g. prayer rooms, canteen food which can be eaten by all, host-country language classes should be offered to foreigners at all levels.

c. Eliminate discriminatory practices within the classroom and provide real opportunities for all  e.g. consider students’ background before giving work that has to be done at home by either giving a number of options or by providing alternatives at school.

d. Appreciate that education policy is much more than formal policy documents but includes processes of policy implementation in which teachers can support, subvert or transform the original intentions of policy makers.

e. Realise that empowerment, social cohesion and recognition of human rights for all can only happen when learners are equipped to transform society.

f. Value the need for students to be given opportunities to recognise and criticise unjust policies and practices taking place around them.


a. Understand the structures and processes of education system and the impact on different social groups in terms of diverse identity such as; social class, gender, religion and race.

b. Relate current ELET policy initiatives in education to their impact on practice.

c. Identify inequality and differences within the classrooms through case study pedagogy and the equity literacy framework.

d. Tackle and address issues related to social justice and equity through an effective use of pedagogical instruments as well as the curriculum.

e. Raise awareness amongst students about the importance of tolerance, acceptance, shared humanity and respect towards democratic values and diverse identities.

f. Collaborate with and build partnerships with relevant stakeholders (such as parents and other teachers) and organizations and entities in the field.

g. Develop empowering classroom practices that enhance students’ critical engagement with their own learning.

Assessment Methods

This module will be assessed through: Case Study and Group Project.

Suggested Readings

Core Reading List
  1. Early Leaving from Education and Training, The way forward, MEYR, 2023-2030 (in press).
  2. A policy on inclusive education in schools, MEYR, 2019 (Revised 2022).
  3. Smith, E., (2018). Key issues in education and social justice. Key Issues in Education and Social Justice, pp.1-264.
Supplementary Reading List
  1. Allan, J.  Catts, R.  (2012). Social Capital, Children and Young People: Implications for practice, policy and research.  Bristol, United Kingdom:  Policy Press.
  2. Avis, J. (2016). Social Justice, Transformation and knowledge. London, United Kingdom:  Routledge.
  3. Ball, S. J.  (2008).  The Education Debate.  Bristol, United Kingdom:  Policy Press.
  4. Biesta, G. (2015). “What is Education For? On Good Education, Teacher Judgment, and Educational Professionalism.” European Journal of Education, Vol. 50, no. 1.
  5. Brooks, R., McCormack, M. and Bhopal, K. (2015). Contemporary Debates in the Sociology of Education.  Basingstoke, United Kingdom:  Palgrave MacMillan.
  6. De Lissovoy, N. (2013). “Pedagogy of the Impossible: neoliberalism and the ideology of accountability.” Policy Futures in Education. Vol. 11, No. 4. 
  7. Gorard, S. (2010). “Education Can Compensate for Society – a Bit.” British Journal of Educational Studies, 58: 1, p. 47-65. 
  8. Leeman, Y. (2008). “Education and Diversity in the Netherlands”. European Educational Research Journal, Vol. 7 No. 1
  9. Pels, T. & De Ruyter, D.J. (2012). “The Influence of Education and Socialization on Radicalization: An Exploration of Theoretical Presumptions and Empirical Research.” Child Youth Care Forum, 41, p.311-325.
  10. Ragazzi, F. (2016). Suspect community or suspect category? The impact of counter-terrorism as ‘policed multiculturalism.’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42:5, p. 724-741. 
  11. Rich, S. & Troudi, S. (2006). “Hard times: Arab TESOL students’ experiences of radicalization and othering in the United Kingdom.” TESOL Quarterly, 40, p. 617.
  12. Robinson, K. and  Jones-Diaz, Criss (2016).  Diversity and Difference in Childhood: Issues for Theory and Practice. Milton Keynes, UK:  Open University Press.
  13. Santoro, N. and Forghani-Arani, N. (2015). “Interrogating practice in culturally diverse classrooms: what can an analysis of student resistance and teacher response reveal?” European Journal of Teacher Education, 38,(1), P. 58-70.
  14. Shor, Ira.  (1992).  Empowering Education.  Chicago, IL, United States: The University of Chicago Press.
Skip to content