When we ask young people with a visible difference what they want their teachers to know, a common answer is “Ask me – don’t make assumptions.” Alexis Camble, education project leader and Susan Ross head of education at Changing Faces write in Teachwire.
Millions of people across the UK identify as having a visible difference, mark, scar or condition that affects their appearance, yet many teachers we speak to at Changing Faces feel unskilled and unprepared for supporting pupils who look different.
As the UK’s leading charity for people with a visible difference, we know how important it is that teachers have access to advice and guidance that can help their classes recognise and challenge appearance-related stereotypes. We know that if we can get in early and get it right for children and young people, we can change lives.
This could include supporting a pupil to catch up with missed work due to absence for medical treatment, or talking to staff about the unconscious bias that can lead to teachers having lower behavioural or attainment expectations of pupils with a visible difference.
As well as tackling appearance-related bullying, teachers have a key role to play in encouraging all pupils to develop positive and respectful attitudes towards visible difference. Our research with young people shows that fewer than a third would be friends with someone with a disfigurement, which is why we’d encourage teachers to not shy away from talking about appearance in the classroom, and to demonstrate the use of appropriate, respectful language.
Read the full article to find out many other ways you can help children with a visible difference. “A little boy turned to him and said, ‘If I looked like you I’d do away with myself”
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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