All posts by laurenoneill

I'm Campaigns Officer at Scope.

Scope Role Models: we want to End the Awkward before it starts

Today (24 August) we’re launching Scope Role Models, our new education programme aimed at secondary school students aged 11 to 16. In hour-long workshops we’ll work with pupils to help them End the Awkward before it begins and to learn about disability in a friendly and engaging way. 

All of the sessions will be led by a disabled role model who’ll share their story and take part in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ question and answer session to help students tackle stereotypes and misconceptions. 

We’re launching Scope Role Models in response to research that shows that one in five young adults have actually avoided a disabled person and 67 per cent of the British public admit that they feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people.

A classroom of schoolchildren
Richard and Rosemary from Scope’s Campaigns team talk to a busy classroom

We also found that over a quarter of people say that getting advice from disabled people would make them feel more confident talking to or interacting with a disabled person. So we’ve decided to give students an opportunity to do just that – by going into schools and introducing them to a disabled role model.

Role models in the classroom

Mary Russell Great Baddow High
One of our disabled role models, Mary Russell, presenting at a session at Great Baddow High School in Chelmsford

We’ve already been into schools across the country, presenting to over 500 students and have received great feedback from students who have participated in the workshops.

At Gresham’s School in Norfolk we delivered two days of workshops to Year 8 pupils. The pupils engaged positively with the sessions and importantly, it aligned with their curriculum. Many pupils told us that it was the first time they’d learnt about disability, stereotypes and the negative attitudes that sadly still exist.

Kim Quick, Special Projects and Outreach Coordinator at the school, told us:

“We make a point of including the topic of ‘role models’ in our PSHE curriculum and, generally speaking, our pupils are pretty astute at recognising, in theory, the qualities of a role model.

Often, they identify these role models in the media or those having celebrity status, so it was our privilege to welcome Rosemary and the Scope team to our school for the day.

Rosemary is, indeed, the embodiment of a Role Model and shared her infectious capacity to educate our pupils with her openness, sense of humour and set of values. Rosemary broke down the barriers with her honesty, likeability, and respect for our pupils’ initial reluctance to ask her questions.

By the end of the sessions, many of them were quite at ease and it was so wonderful seeing them ask questions that they might not otherwise have felt able to ask. While she was talking, I was watching the faces of our pupils; they were engaged, alert, and definitely in a place of learning.

The sessions we had were worth a thousand theoretical situations in the classroom and I am so grateful to her for coming to school and helping our pupils understand how her motivation for social change has far reaching benefits for the next generation’s attitudes.”

Thank You from Gresham's
Thank you messages from Year 8 pupils at Gresham’s

How you can get involved

We’re excited to get out to other schools across England and Wales and to continue sharing our work with students- but we need your help. If you are connected to a school that would be interested in booking a session, please complete our school bookings enquiry form and we’ll be in touch.

So far we have 10 trained Role Models ready and raring to get out there and be part of the sessions but we’re always on the lookout for more!

If you’re a disabled person and feel you would make an amazing role model for students then please complete this short role models enquiry form and we’ll be in touch.