The ‘Power of Hair’ schools programme

Hair care line Pantene has today announced its partnership with non-profit, creative education organisation, Ideas Foundation, to increase positive representation and understanding of Afro hair in schools. 

The two organisations are launching a series of ‘Power of Hair’ lesson plans,  to focus on raising awareness of Afro hair discrimination, promoting hair confidence, and equipping students with creative and essential skills, from team working to confidence building for the future.

It is a three-year campaign and was piloted last year, reaching over 600 students in 11 geographical areas. It is now expanding.

A recent study by World Afro Day with Shift Insight on over 500 educators found that only half of teachers have the confidence to openly discuss issues of race and ethnicity with students.

Meanwhile, almost a third said they were unable to correctly identify a scenario involving Afro hair discrimination. 

A further study by Pantene found that 9 in 10 black people in the UK have faced microaggressions related to their Afro hair, and school was highlighted as the most common place where the discrimination took place. 

Hair has been shown to be key to confidence and identity, being among the top three ways to impact how one feels about themselves. 

Yale University studied the psychology of bad hair days, which are days when your hair doesn’t cooperate the way you want it to, and said subjects reported feeling less smart, less capable, more embarrassed and less sociable.

Dr Rolanda Wilkerson PhD, Pantene’s Principal Hair Scientist, said: “Our school years are a crucial period in our lives to form life-long foundations for confidence, self-love, and creativity. 

“We are so proud to have worked on this important educational tool so that children with all hair types can have a full educational experience and we can work to reduce hair discrimination in the UK and beyond.”

She added: At Pantene, we believe everybody deserves to be celebrated and represented fairly, and without discrimination. 

“The ‘Power of Hair’ workshops are an important part of empowering hair confidence in the future generation and reminding people that ‘everybody deserves a good hair day’.” 

Man talking to female students in Power of Hair workshop

Pantene and Ideas Foundation teamed up to create a series of creative Power of Hair workshops that can be woven into the curriculum, focusing on raising awareness and understanding of Afro hair discrimination, promoting hair confidence, and equipping students with essential skills to help set them up for the future.

Following testing and development with over 1400 students, the workshop material is now available as free downloadable lesson plans, designed to be woven into the curriculum for KS2 and KS3 students across STEM, English, Art, Drama and more.

The workshops have different activities for each subject. For example, one of the activities for Art, Design and Marketing is for students to make their own hair ad. While in the English workshops, one activity includes students writing poems about their own hair.

The organisations are working closely with teachers to offer training on the workshops, ensuring these are being delivered to students sensitively and correctly, in addition to delivering a number of facilitated workshops in schools across the country over the next three years.

Heather MacRae, CEO of Ideas Foundation, said: “This project has given us an opportunity to work with hundreds of schools – using creative approaches to explore identity, discrimination and hair confidence through science, English, humanities, and art.  Schools have loved the workshops we have offered.”

Educators can find the workshop lesson plans available to download now from the Pantene UK website here, which also includes details on how schools can apply for a facilitated workshop as well as detail on how to enquire about the next ‘Power of Hair’ workshop teacher training session. 

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