The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Andrew Moffat

From schools to supermarkets: there are no outsiders!

In these unkind times, it's important to champion an inclusive, 'no outsiders' ethos. Real-world examples offer great opportunities to get pupils thinking about diversity. 

This week I delivered an assembly to Year 4 and 5 pupils on a branch of Tesco in Scotland.

The Moray branch is working with Alzheimer's Scotland to help shoppers with dementia. It recently introduced a ‘relaxed lane’ for customers who may need more time to organise and pay for their shopping. 

Teachers can use this heart-warming story to illustrate the importance of a ‘no outsiders’ ethos: Tesco have ensured that all shoppers feel a sense of belonging. All children will have waited in checkout queues for the person in front; this is a real and relatable example.

At a time of global political division and a bitter, false dichotomy between ‘us’ and ‘them’, the ‘no outsiders’ ethos has never been so greatly needed in schools.

Schools must be clear in their philosophy: either we teach children and young people to celebrate difference and champion diversity, or we run the risk of a generation growing up in fear of otherness, the consequences of which are clear to see.

What does whole-school SMSC implementation look like? Suzanne O'Connell explains how you can get all staff on board

Diversity and equality

The Tesco story is perfect for children to discuss. Businesses may choose to make their shops accessible, but equally they could argue that the duty falls on people – with or without dementia - to alter their behaviour and conform to the unspoken expectations when queuing.

After all, most people do not have dementia. Why should businesses cater to the minority who do? 

Tesco’s decision serves to remind others that a shop is a place where every customer – including those with disabilities - should feel welcome.

People may choose not to use the relaxed lane, but it exists for those who need it - and others who may just want to take their time! There truly are no outsiders in this supermarket.

I love using this story to talk about the ‘No outsiders’ ethos. It demonstrates to children that there are other people across the UK (and the world) who value inclusivity and diversity as much as we do, who want to ensure that everyone feels safe no matter their disabilities, faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or age.

Furthermore, there are many people out there who are changing the way we do things, making sure that there are ‘no outsiders’ in spite of efforts to divide and disempower.

The next great idea or leap forward could come from within our own classrooms. Let’s get thinking!

 

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