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"In a world where we have challenged so much, disability and hidden differences still remain a taboo..." So begins the executive report of Project Flip - a project that was undertaken by students with hidden differences and neurodiverse profiles and presented to the school's senior management team as part of a student -centred initiative to 'flip the narrative' and foster real change. You can read more about this below.
We are delighted to be hosting a Neurodiversity Conference: All Different, All Human, on Friday 3 November 2023.
Thanks to improved awareness and knowledge, an increasing number of students at WHS are being identified as neurodivergent or having hidden differences. The way that a brain is wired should not be a barrier to learning or achievement. Our Neurodiversity and Hidden Differences team has long worked closely with students, our pastoral leaders and individual subject teachers to ensure the right support is put in place, but Project Flip took things further. Its aims? To break down misconceptions and stigmas over 'labels', to encourage better representation and self-advocacy and to challenge school leaders and classroom teachers to make adjustments to the physical and learning environments which will have a positive impact on our students with differences, and as a consequence, us all as a properly inclusive community.
As part of reverse mentoring and staff training, students encouraged their teachers to adjust their lessons for neurodivergent students. In Question Time students were asked: How can teachers make your experience better? How can the offer of help be more subtle? What is the one thing that teachers do that annoys you most? The candid discussions were invaluable in putting student experience at the heart. Project Flip has been a success in reframing conversations and classroom practice and other schools, inspired by the initiative, have asked for advice about implementing similar projects.
Take a look at some of our students' comments about their wider experiences and have a think about what you can do to help flip your point of view too perhaps...
"I am different but not less."
"I don't always understand emotions or tone of voice. I need physical cues in order to read people."
"I am not good at small talk but I can talk about passions."
"My normal is different to your normal but it's still my normal..."
"In the context of diagnoses, labels can be very much enabling- allowing the person access to the right help they need and providing validation..."
You can more about the impact of Project Flip in our GROW magazine.