Educating Children with Facial Disfigurement: Creating Inclusive School Communities

Educating Children with Facial Disfigurement: Creating Inclusive School Communities

Educating Children with Facial Disfigurement: Creating Inclusive School Communities

Educating Children with Facial Disfigurement: Creating Inclusive School Communities


Children and young people who are visibly different face significant social and psychological challenges at school. Educating Children with Facial Disfigurement demystifies a difficult and delicate subject. Teachers and others working in education can use this book to acquire a better knowledge of the issues involved, as well as the confidence to handle sensitive issues andnbsp;foster inclusive attitudes both in and out of the classroom. There are many causes of facial disfigurement - birthmarks, cleft lip and palate, burns, scars and serious skin conditions - so it is essential that all schools know about the issues arising from visible difference. Jane Francis examines many of these issues and demonstrates in a practical way how to deal with: * staring, curiosity and questions,nbsp;teasing, name-calling and bullying * medical needs, special educational needs and related issues * creating inclusive school communities * self-perception and self-expression * career ideas, work experience and social skills for life. With illustrative case studies, lesson ideas and references to useful resources, this book will be of particular relevance to teachers with responsibility for special educational needs or pastoral care.


Before approaching the education of pupils who look different, it is essential to pause and consider the people - primarily the teachers - whose contribution will be at the core of the inclusive education we want these children to experience.

Being there

After all the rhetoric about inclusion, and after all the to-ing and fro-ing which may have gone on to enable a particular pupil to attend a particular school, perhaps with additional support or other special considerations, the child or young person is there in the classroom. Alternatively, after an absence in hospital and perhaps a period on home tuition, a pupil returns to school with their appearance altered. Finally, it is down to the teacher. in the classroom, with the pupil who is visibly different (there may be more than one), and with all the other pupils who are perhaps more likely to be seen, and to see themselves, as 'normal', the teacher's reactions are crucial. When inclusion begins to be achieved it will be largely because of things teachers do (perhaps without knowing that they are doing them) - the way they engage with their pupils, the individuality they perceive and respond to in each one of them, the futures they imagine for them.

When a teacher believes a pupil is gifted, the impact on the pupil's performance is well established. What about other beliefs about pupils which teachers may hold?

Seeing difference

This is not a discussion about the idea of differences and the ideal of inclusion. It concerns the feelings and beliefs about disfigurement we notice and discover in ourselves when we see a child or young person with a disfigurement, or when we watch (during a Changing Faces in-service training day for instance) some video clips of young people talking about their experience of living with facial disfigurement.

When we meet someone new, who has a facial disfigurement, their appearance is unsettling … for several seconds we are disconcerted, which makes it hard to meet the person. This is not wrong, it's just what happens.

This unsettling initial attempt at meeting may be coloured by many different feelings and reactions. a teacher may feel embarrassed, shocked, upset, angry, vulnerable oreven repulsed by a child whose appearance is unusual, or they may be touched with pity. These feelings can seem quite inappropriate and it can seem natural and right to try and expunge them from our awareness. in fact, an acceptance, internally, of our own initial

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