A Derby teacher has braved the shave and sacrificed her long locks, raising hundreds of pounds in the process. 

Creative Technologies teacher Joanna Young, of Derby Cathedral School, had her head shaved in front of a room full of teenagers to raise money for Cancer Research UK

The hair was then collected and donated to Little Lady Locks; a charity that creates wigs for young children living with cancer.  

Joanna Young shaved her head for Cancer Research UK

The 44-year-old, who has been at the city secondary school for four years, hopes that her charitable deed will inspire pupils to talk more openly about identity, and neurodiversity, as she is dyslexic and struggled at university. 

She said: “I wanted to make our charity month something that was big and it was especially important that the students found it memorable. I also wanted our year group’s charity month to be meaningful to them and I didn’t mind if that meant that I looked silly. 

“I’ve had short hair before but never this short. Having my head shaved was a way of doing something that continues to be visible and really got the kids involved. If I let them throw sponges at me or something like that then it is quite temporary and would not have had the same impact.

“This way, they are reminded of how important it is to raise money for charities and to do something that is selfless.” 

Joanna Young before her head was shaved

Joanna added that the school – part of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust – used to do a lot to raise money for various charities before the Covid pandemic, such as going to the railway station with collection buckets, but that all had to stop due to the Covid restrictions.

It is hoped that, after the most recent fundraising effort, the school can support more charities.  

Pupils were told that if they raised £1,500 for Year 10’s chosen charity – Cancer Research UK – then the teacher would shave her head. 

She said: “This has been such a positive experience for the students, and it created a culture of them doing something for other people. They absolutely loved the charity fair we did and then the head shave. Their reactions were brilliant and went from complete horror to joy. 

“It’s been empowering for them, I’ve never sweated so much as I did when I had my hair shaved – I don’t like having my hair cut as I find it an uncomfortable process.” 

Not only has it inspired pupils to do something for others, it has also got them talking about topics like neurodiversity and mental health. Although Joanna said to her, hair is not a big part of her identity, the piercings in her ears are and she had them redone after so that they were on show again. 

The teacher had the piercings while at university, to represent each year she completed, to help cope with the challenges she faced due to being dyslexic.  

She said: “It’s interesting, I was fine with having my head shaved – maybe a little self-conscious – but it was my piercings I was most focused on. I had to have them redone. 

“It’s opened up many conversations about mental health and that sense of identity around the school which is so important.” 

This story was written and shared on behalf of Derby Diocesan Academy Trust by Jenny Moody. Can we share your news and get you in the headlines too? Find out how we can help by getting in touch.