BACKGROUND:: Cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) poses many challenges for those affected throughout the school years, with recent studies pointing to a trend in poor educational outcomes. Previous research has highlighted the important role that teachers play in supporting young people with chronic health conditions yet studies in the field of CL/P suggest that teachers may lack knowledge of the condition, and underestimate pupils' academic ability. Qualitative investigation of the impact of CL/P from the teacher's perspective may provide additional insight as well as potential suggestions for improving the school experience for affected pupils. METHODS:: Twenty UK preschool, primary, and secondary school teachers with experience of teaching pupils with CL/P completed an open-ended survey, eliciting qualitative data. RESULTS:: Qualitative content analysis was performed. Data were presented under 5 key headings: Knowledge of CL/P and its effects, perceived impact of CL/P on education, teachers' training needs, delivery of training, and impact of CL/P on teachers. Teachers were able to identify a number of potential social, emotional, and treatment-related challenges within the school setting, yet did not believe that CL/P would have a long-term impact on pupils' educational achievement. Participating teachers reported that cleft-specific training and access to relevant resources would be highly beneficial. CONCLUSIONS:: Acting as a platform for future research, this exploratory study provides insight into the challenges faced by teachers and offers suggestions for how to improve teachers' understanding of CL/P, and their confidence in dealing with cleft-related issues.
- cleft lip and palate