Karen is working with a small group of children who have brought a toy in from home and have been asked to talk about it to the rest of the group. Ben is from Wales and has a very broad accent which is different from other children in the group, who are from London. When Ben stands and starts to talk a girl in the group starts laughing with her friend and tries to imitate him. What should Karen do? Why is it important not to ignore the pupils who laugh? Karen should talk to the girls who were laughing and explain that every person is a unique individual and we all have differences.
They may not have intended to upset Ben or realise the impact their behaviour could have on him. She should ask the girls how they would feel if somebody laughed at them because of their accent or their appearance or other factor that is beyond their control. Considering the feelings of other people should always be encouraged. It is extremely important not to ignore this behaviour as pupils may think that it is acceptable to do this. Ben could become upset and feel isolated, which could have a serious impact on his self-confidence.
His work may also be affected, he may not want to attend school, become withdrawn or even start to display unacceptable behaviour himself. To help promote diversity, Ben should be encouraged to talk to his peers about where he is from. If Ben speaks Welsh, he could teach a few basic words to the class. At Meadow View, some teachers encourage children to answer the register in a different language. A situation like this would be ideal to educate students about Ben’s background and hopefully make him feel included and accepted amongst his classmates.