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VIEWS From the pen of... Pamela Aculey Introducing children to


diversity and inclusiveness This month, in our regular series profiling authors working in UK education, we hear from PAM ACULEY, author of Just Like Me Picture Books – books that champion diversity and inclusiveness.


In 2017 my eldest son Walter was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He was four years old and completely non-verbal. As parents we found it incredibly hard to find books where children like Walter could see themselves in the pages of books. They say “create the things you wish existed” so I started to write a children’s book series called ‘Just Like Me’ – where at the heart of each story we explore and promote diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance and


kindness. Because we all know the world needs more of this! I am a mother of three and one with additional needs has


completely opened up my eyes to the work that needs to be done in relation to representation. There are very limited resources when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. There are more children’s books being sold in the UK than ever before – but how accurately do they represent the society we all live in? How many of your favourite picture books feature a disabled protagonist? I can’t name any. And when I say the world disabled, I don’t just refer to wheelchair bound. I also include those with motor disabilities, visual disabilities, learning/cognitive disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, neuro-diverse disabilities to name a few. 1 in 20 children have a disability. That gives 19 children a daily


opportunity to learn about diversity, inclusion and friendship. We know that children’s books can act like both mirrors and windows on the world. Mirrors in that they can reflect on children’s own lives and windows in that they can give children a chance to learn about someone else’s life. Research has shown that when we are exposed to different ethnicities and abilities, when we learn about different cultures and traditions, it helps to reduce stereotypes, bring new life experiences, different ideas and a deeper connection to others. Books can serve as a first introduction to the outside world and


they should be as diverse as the people who read them. We can’t build an inclusive society when certain ethnicities, genders and disabilities are still represented as second class. Books have the power to change lives, so we owe it to young readers to show them reality in the books they’re reading. If all children could see people who looked like them doing amazing things; could you imagine what that spark could do in their mind for their future? When we see people like ourselves in the media, including fiction, we get a glimpse of who we might become and we feel validated. Today’s young generation are tomorrow’s musicians, teachers,


artists, doctors, engineers etc. We need to start young and ensure children accept disability as part of the norm. Adding diversity into their daily diet of stories will create a society where no one feels disadvantaged or restricted by their ethnicity, their gender, their background or their disability. Where we celebrate differences and the uniqueness of all children. Because every child should be able to say they’re a hero in their story.


uwww.justlikemebooks.co.uk January 2020 British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) How to successfully


navigate the Bett show In her regular column this month, JULIA GARVEY, Operations Director, BESA, looks ahead to Bett and offers some pointers on how to get the best out of this celebration of all things ed tech.


At this time of year there is much talk of Bett; indeed this very magazine is dedicated to previewing this highly anticipated show. But if you’ve never been before, or even if you are an old hand, what are the key things you must know before heading to Excel? Firstly, you need a plan. Bett is huge. Properly big. It is busy, noisy


and quite frankly a bit overwhelming. It is nigh-on impossible to simply turn up and take it all in, so if you are looking for something specific you need to arrive prepared. The Bett website or Bett Show are the best places to start, enabling you to identify exhibitors or products that you might want to visit. As well as giving you the chance to plan which talks you want to attend (Professor Brian Cox anyone?). Secondly, you need a map. Bett is changing its layout this year so


even if you have been before you will discover that things have moved about a bit. In previous years Bett has inhabited the entirety of the north hall, whereas this year the exhibition will be squarer in shape and straddle both sides of the central concourse. You'll be able to find a map within the Bett Show Guide on the day. Thirdly, don’t miss the Education Show at Bett. For the first time this


premier event has been merged into Bett, giving you the opportunity to see peruse non-tech teaching and learning resources alongside their more high-tech counterparts. The Education Show has its own dedicated area in the north hall, so head there first to beat the rush. Still confused? Help is at hand in the shape of the BESA stand.


Situated right in the middle of the north hall in the Teaching and Learning zone, stand number NK40, we act as the information point for both the Bett Show and the Education Show. If you need help locating an exhibitor, want directions to one of the conference talks or have a general query about opening hours or cafés, then head to us and we can help. We can also help signpost BESA member companies who are


exhibiting within both shows. As the British Educational Suppliers Association, we represent over 400 companies selling goods and services into UK schools. And all our members undergo rigorous checks before they will be accepted into membership. So, if you are seeking reassurance, look for the BESA logo on display on exhibitors stands – this will act as your visual mark of quality and service. Alternatively, we have a full list of members available on our stand. BESA members can also be found within the BESA pavilion adjacent to our stand, the Education Show pavilion and at Bett Futures. No trip to Bett would be complete without a trip to Bett Futures


where you can experience the best new and innovative solutions on offer from start-ups and small businesses. Bett Futures is in the south hall and has an energy and excitement that is unique to this area of the show. Finally, a few top tips from a Bett regular. Wear comfortable shoes,


you will be on your feet all day. Bring snacks and maybe a packed lunch as the food queues are always very long. Get outside at lunchtime and walk along by the water – there are cafes and a supermarket on the way towards Royal Victoria DLR. Walk a bit further and you might even be able to fit in a trip on the cable car to Greenwich. But most of all enjoy it – Bett is an amazing showcase of the best education technology in the world, and I for one can’t wait.


uBESA will be available throughout Bett on stand NK40.


ujulia@besa.org.uk www.education-today.co.uk 13


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