Feeling valued and supported at work

Corrina wrote this story last year (before the birth of her first child). She shares with us how using a one-page profile in her role as a primary school teacher has helped her feel valued as an individual within her staff team and how it has significantly improved her appraisal and performance management process.

Corrina's one-page profile

Corrina’s one-page profile

Written by Corrina Warren

I am 26 years old and I am a primary school teacher at Oxley Park Academy, I have worked at Oxley Park for five years. I work in Key Stage Two and I love working and learning alongside the children. In June 2013 I am due to become a mum for the first time and I can’t wait for my son to be born.

I have a one-page profile as a member of staff at Oxley Park Academy. As a school we are currently working hard on driving forward personalisation  and the Academy Principal, Cathy Higgins, felt that it was important for the staff to be valued as individuals as well as the children.

We had training on what the purpose of a one-page profiles is and how to develop each section. Cathy then asked us to write our own for us to share with her at our Performance Management meeting. The purpose of doing this was so that Cathy had a greater understanding of the staff as individuals and what she could do to support us and to help develop us as professionals.

Teachers have Performance Management Meetings with Cathy on a termly basis. As part of the review process we share our one-page profiles and update Cathy, where necessary, on any amendments that have been made. Cathy uses the information from the one-page profile to help us set targets as well as offer strategies and guidance in order to help support us as individuals.

For me personally, the ‘Like and Admire’ is my favourite section of my one-page profile. This section reminds me of how I am valued and appreciated by my colleagues and always makes me smile when I read it. However, in terms of usefulness, the ‘How to support me best’ section is the most important. This is the section that is reviewed and updated most frequently and is the most important bit for Cathy to know because ultimately she is the one who implements the support for me.

Having the one-page profile and sharing it with Cathy has meant that she now has a greater understanding of what she can do in order to help me achieve my goals at work and ensure that what’s important to me is being met. Cathy knows that I like structure and for my job role to be clear, because of this I now have a clearly defined job description which outlines my roles and responsibilities. This has supported me greatly as I know who and what I am responsible for and no longer worry about things that are not part of my job role.

I now feel that I am able to confidently approach Cathy if I have any concerns about work and my work/life balance and I use my one-page profile to help me do this. It enables me to communicate with Cathy and share my feelings in a way that I might otherwise find difficult to do. Having the information written down in front of me ensures that I share how I am really feeling and Cathy also keeps a copy of it to keep on file with my Performance Management Meeting notes so that she also has a record of what has been agreed.

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Who decides a child’s potential? 4 benefits to using one-page profiles in School

Cathy Higgins

Cathy Higgins

Written by guest blogger Cathy Higgins, Head teacher at Oxley Park Academy

I’ve always found it strange when people talk about a child reaching their full potential. What is their full potential and who exactly decided it? It strikes me that by identifying this invisible finishing line and then pushing a child right up to it and nothing more, we are seriously underestimating what is possible.

I’ve worked in education for 30 years and have been Head Teacher three times. In 2005 I was appointed to Oxley Park Academy before it had even been built and was fortunate enough to take Headship at a time when I could influence its shape from the bottom up; quite literally – I was on site with a hard hat helping design something wonderful for our community!

When we opened in October that year, we had 100 pupils. We now have 550 and a waiting list but our size isn’t the only thing that has changed. In July 2011 we converted to academy status. We are still a state school but rather than taking direction from our local authority, we are funded centrally which means we have the freedom to develop the curriculum and to allocate money to the areas that we know supports our pupils, staff and community best.  In short, it has allowed us to be more person-centred and using one-page profiles with all 550 of our pupils is one of the ways that we do this.

In September 2011 we employed two people to drive forward our approach to personalisation. We don’t have Special Educational Needs teachers here at the school because we see every child as having individual requirements and we firmly believe that by adopting person-centred practices within our school’s culture, we can support and teach each child well.

One-page profiles celebrate the individual gifts and talents of our pupils. They also capture the essential information about what is important to and for each child and it is this that enables us to support and encourage them far beyond any pre-determined potential.  The profiles are stored in each classroom and electronically. They are added to continuously and redeveloped in full as pupils move to the next year group. Being able to dedicate time and resource into embedding these types of person-centred thinking practices into our school’s culture has been one of the most powerful outcomes of our academy status. The benefits for our pupils, teachers, parents and community (after all – each and every empowered child will be taking these values with them for the rest of their life) as a whole are magnificent.

Here are the four main benefits we have experienced by using one-page profiles:

1)      Better Understanding: To be truly person-centred we have to treat every child as unique, special and with unquantifiable potential. One-page profiles encourage pupils to think about what is important to them and empowers them to tell us how we can support them best.  The ‘what people like and admire about me’ section is exclusive to each child and encourages us (parents, teachers and classmates) to celebrate their individual skills and gifts.

2)      Better relationships: Children can often act differently at home and at school and by bringing parents and teachers together through a child’s one-page profile we can improve our understanding of them and support them better. The pupils themselves have learnt to celebrate their individuality and support each other, forming better and more positive working relationships with their peers and teachers.

3)      Good education: We believe every child has the right to a good education. A one-page profile highlights how we can support a child to learn well. It might lead us to use special equipment to aid with maths or communication or it might be as simple as encouraging them to ask questions or ensuring they have somewhere quiet to sit and concentrate. Whatever the profile identifies we are able to respond.

4)      Reflection: Both pupils and teachers have reflection time at Oxley Park Academy. We see this as vital for learning and progression as well as good mental health and wellbeing.  The profiles helped us to identify the need for this time (highlighted as something that is important) but they are also a tool that we reflect upon.

 

Speaking out – not suffering in silence

An example of how a one-page profile can help communicate the essential information needed to support a child with a long term health condition in school. Jessenia doesn’t like to make a fuss and can find it difficult to speak out about what she needs. Her one-page profile does this for her and ensures she is not put at risk because of a lack of information or understanding.  

Jessenia's one-page profile

Jessenia’s one-page profile

Written by Jessenia’s mum 

My eight year old Jessenia attends Oxley Park Academy and is in Year 4.  She was born with a congenital heart defect and has had four major heart operations since her birth, and many minor procedures. The last one was when she was five years old.  Jessenia is a child that likes to please the adults around her. She wants to be recognised for her well-behaved manner and strives for this recognition. She has a maturity about her and relates more to older children and adults.

As Jessenia’s mum I felt that she needed a one-page profile because physically she looks well, so unless you know of her heart condition, it would be difficult for someone who didn’t spend much time with her to recognise that she was having difficulty.  PE is quite demanding for Jessenia and although she wants to join in with her classmates she can’t always keep up and often just needs to sit down and rest.

Also walking long distances is very difficult for her as her heart has to work twice as hard as everyone elses and therefore she tires a lot quicker. She is flat footed too and this causes pains in her legs. We wanted to make sure that adults would recognise when Jessenia needed help as Jessenia herself doesn’t like to make a fuss and tends to suffer in silence because she doesn’t want to disturb the class.

Signs of Jessenia needing help can include constant coughing, sweating and tummy pain.  Jessenia finds it hard to eat, drink and breathe together and therefore eats a lot slower than her peers and subsequently needs more time to finish her meal or drink. This is why we asked that she be allowed to eat some of her lunch at break time and be allowed to drink during class time.

Jessenia’s one-page profile is kept in her classroom and also a copy in a central file. It helps her teacher to recognise when she might need some help and also lets her know what Jessenia’s needs might be when she is in difficulty.  It also means that if her usual teacher or teaching assistants are not around, the crucial information is readily available for whoever is in charge

Jessenia has found her one-page profile particularly helpful because it means that she doesn’t have to explain to adults why she is using the lift and why she needs liquids throughout the day.  She lacks confidence and doesn’t like to be put on the spot. The profile has also helped Jessenia because she knows that all the adult staff are aware of her issues and if she finds something difficult she is more comfortable to say so.  She now appreciates that others want to help her and will keep an eye on her.

As her mum, knowing Jessenia has a one-page profile has given me the confidence that all adult staff taking care of her when I’m not there are aware that she has a heart defect and that she is physically unable to keep up with her classmates sometimes. It also means that when she shows real signs of difficulty and may be in trouble, I am reassured that people know exactly what action to take.