What makes this pupil tick?

This school introduced one-page profiles to all pupils in Alan’s year. The profiles helped pupils think about what was important to them and what support they needed, not just for academia but to achieve their wider ambitions. This is how one-page profiles and the activities around creating one-page profiles worked for Alan.

Alan's one-page profile

Alan’s one-page profile

Written by Manchester Grammar School

Alan is a Year 10 pupil at MGS. He is one of our top academic performers and is a tremendously talented young man. It was really interesting for us as a staff to see how someone in this bracket would respond to the activities of the one-page profile.

Whilst it is often the case that one-page profiles can help to solve problems, it is not immediately obvious that Alan has any. The hope was that through engaging with the one-page profile process, Alan would take the opportunity to reflect on the position that he is in and set himself some ambitious targets for the short and medium term. It would also be a chance for Alan to put in writing and discuss with his parents and tutor anything that he thought could be improved upon and the part that they might play in this.

Alan said of his one-page profile; ‘It gets people to think about their strengths weaknesses and what they could do to improve themselves. It made them think about what makes them tick and asks them to try to do certain things more often so that they have more good days.’

When talking about his own experience Alan said, ‘Personally I was using it to think about support I might need in subjects that weren’t quite going as well as the rest rather than things that were going badly wrong.’

This was interesting as it shows that even for a top performer the one-page profile could help to focus the pupil’s mind on subtle aspects of school life that might need attention. Alan placed a lot of value in the supplementary exercises that we did beyond the one-page profile. The first of these was an activity where he imagined that he had been sent to the future, first by five years and then by ten years, and wrote a letter to his current self, to explain what life is like there.

‘It made me realise that I haven’t decided what I want to do yet. It made me start to identify important decisions that are on the horizon and made me think about where I might be going in the future’ he said.

The next activity we asked Alan to do was to consider what was working at school and what wasn’t. At a parent – Form Tutor meeting these ideas were discussed and both parties made contributions to Alan’s ideas.

Of the general process Alan said, ‘Working/not working gives the important people in school an idea about how people are getting on. If you’ve written down serious things are not working then parents and teachers would act on it.’

Of his own experiences Alan said, ‘I was struggling with Islam in Religious Studies, especially exam preparation. This was discussed after working/not working and Form Tutor day. My Form Tutor spoke to my teacher about it and it has made a big difference.’

Having a one-page profile at school to think about his academic studies, his relationship with peers and teachers, his future and  to identify what support he needs to achieve what he has outlined as important has been very helpful to Alan. It has given him another way to get his point across and helped him think about his school life and wider life with greater reflection.

One-page profile are being updated throughout the year and Alan is sharing a draft version

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One-page profile – A vehicle to talk

An example of how introducing one-page profiles within the school gave teachers a valuable insight into their students, equipping them with information that would lead to better support and relationships.

John's one-page profile

John’s one-page profile

Written by Manchester Grammar School Head of Year

John is a Year 10 pupil at MGS. Academically John did not have a good start to Year 10 and his report at the end of his first term was not as good as we had hoped. His teachers were citing a lack of effort and his exam grades were way down on previous reports. We had hoped that each of our pupils would benefit from the one-page profiles in many ways, but it was a particularly opportune time for John to start the process.

Following his report John was having regular meetings with me (his Head of Year) to discuss his individual subjects and his approach to work. Meanwhile John was completing several activities with his form tutor around our one-page profile programme. It was the one-page profile and in particular the section on ‘What is important to me?’ that was the most useful. John had received guidance about filling in his one-page profile from his Form Tutor and from me. He knew that when he came to explain what was important to him, he was only supposed to include things that either he could consciously control or things that he could control with the help of others.

In ‘what’s important to me’ John wrote,

‘To get a good night’s sleep. I feel I go to bed well too late and then have to get up really early. This affects me in my lessons as I feel droopy and put no effort into my classwork.’

He also wrote,

‘To get a healthy breakfast. Usually I don’t get breakfast because I don’t put the effort into getting breakfast. During some lessons I can only think about getting some food at break or lunch and therefore my classwork suffers.’

This gave me as John’s Head of Year an immediate insight in to the problems that John was having. As John always seems like a cheerful and awake young man when I see him it had never occurred to me to talk to him about sleep and his diet. The one-page profile gave me a vehicle to talk about these issues with John and very quickly I was able to gather some more information around the subject. It turned out that John was only having breakfast one school day per week and that he was rarely in bed before midnight. All of a sudden it was not surprising that John’s concentration in lessons and the quality of his work had deteriorated. In ‘How best to support me’ John had simply written,

‘Send me to bed at a reasonable time so I am allowed to have a good night sleep.’

and,

‘Either give me some breakfast or remind me to get breakfast.’

This is very simple advice that I have acted upon. Whenever I see John in school I make sure that he has had breakfast and check what time he went to bed. I have also asked his brother to keep an eye on him as well. When parents were shown the one-page profile there was an opportunity for John and his Form Tutor to discuss these issues and suggestions with them face to face.

Using John as an example, the one-page profile process has resulted in the school receiving some very important, yet simple information about a pupil. Parents, teachers and the pupil were then able to work together for a solution to the identified problem.

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.

 

5 top tips to use one-page profiles in schools

Tabitha SmithWritten by guest blogger Tabitha Smith, then SENCO and Deputy Head at Norris Bank Primary School, Stockport

I’ve worked in education for over 20 years and 18 of these have been in Stockport. It was whilst teaching at Norris Bank Primary school in 2008 that I was first introduced to one-page profiles. Helen Sanderson is the mother of one of our old pupils and she came into school to talk to us about Laura’s progress. She introduced us to a single sheet of paper which communicated perfectly what people liked and admired about Laura, what was important to her and how best we could support her. This was the beginning of something huge; our personalisation journey.

We immediately saw the value of the one-page profile as a means to improve communication, learn about the individual requirements of each child, celebrate their gifts and talents and therefore teach and support them well.

At first we introduced the profiles to years two and six. We wanted to use them to help pupils in the transition from infant to juniors and from primary up to secondary. We had decided early on that this was not a tool to be used just with the children that had been identified as having ‘special educational needs’ as our belief is that all children have special or individual requirements and that each of them would benefit from using a one-page profile.

The children were incredibly excited about and receptive to creating their profiles. It wasn’t the first time we had asked them to tell us what they needed to work well but it was the first time we had introduced such a positive way of capturing this information, of embedding this culture deep into the roots of our school. We soon realised that we needed to give every child the opportunity to create their own profile and so we made this commitment.

I won’t lie and tell you that it was easy. It wasn’t. We have 340 pupils at Norris Bank and the coordination of communication between pupils, parents and teachers as well as the administration that was required, was enough to cause even the most committed of professionals a few sleepless nights! But we did it. In 2009 we achieved our aim or arming each child with their own one-page profile and setting a system in place that means that each year they re-work their profiles in time for their move to the next class.

We now know what each child needs to be supported well. This could be something as simple as how they like to be encouraged, what type of classroom environment they thrive in or whether there is any equipment the child needs to aid their communication or learning. Our parents are able to share with us the things that they love and admire about their child and we can celebrate this together – bridging the gap between home and school life. We have a point of reference for every parent’s evening and a detailed introduction to new teachers of each and every pupil. And crucially, our pupils feel valued and empowered to tell us what is important to and for them.

This year I accepted a Headship at a new school and I will be taking my learning of one-page profiles and the power of personalisation in education with me but I wanted to share with you five top tips to successfully introduce profiles in your school. I said before that it wasn’t easy – but as we have been through the process, we have learnt what works and what doesn’t work and now have a system that is absolutely achievable for schools – and believe me, the results are well worth the effort!

Using one-page profiles in a school setting:

  1. Understand their worth: It is important that the people making it happen (the teachers, pupils, parents and admin staff) understand how a one-page profile can benefit a child in school, how it can aid their learning, improve communication, highlight the need for new measures of support and celebrate their gifts and talents. We did this through training sessions, but also having resources like this blog site is a great way to share the ‘power of the one-page profile’!
  2. Give yourself time:  It takes time to achieve a task of this scale and giving yourself an unrealistic time frame will only de-motivate you. Think first about the practicalities of training people about one-page profiles, producing them, involving parents, capturing and storing the information then base your time scale on this.
  3. Keep it simple: We learnt early on that trying to type up each and every one-page profile and store them electronically wasn’t for us! We now send post cards out to parents at the end of each school year and they add the section about what they like and admire about their child. The children then return the cards to the class room and work through the sections ‘what is important to them and how best to support and encourage them in school’. Pupils personalise their postcard profiles with colours and drawings which further capture their personalities. The cards are then kept in a plastic flip wallet by the teacher and can be taken out and looked at or added to at any time.
  4. Involve parents: The benefits of a child having a one-page profile far transcends school and involving parents in the process early by getting them to add to the profiles is a good way of introducing them to the tool. We had an army of volunteers helping us when we first rolled out the project and although now we have streamlined it, we don’t need this administrative support, we still involve parents and are able to capture their rich insight into their child.
  5. Walk the walk: Capturing information isn’t enough. It is how you use it that will make your introduction of one-page profiles in school a success. We adapt our teaching style to our pupils based in what they have told us. We make decisions about their support based on what we know about them. We share this information with parents and with their new secondary school because we believe it is of vital importance. We see each or our pupils as individuals and whilst they may all be taught the same curriculum, we do it in the way that best suits them.

What can be achieved when young people are empowered?

An example of how introducing one-page profiles to school pupils in a workshop led two students to respect and understand each other’s differences and improved the learning environment for both. Logan’s story captures the successes achieved when young people feel empowered to say what is important to them how best others can support them.

Logan's one-page profile

Logan’s one-page profile

Written by Barb Swartz-Biscaro

Logan is an energetic young man from Dunchurch Ontario, Canada. He is a very creative thinker who often wants to voice his thoughts in the moment.

When Logan was in Grade 3 his mom offered to do a one-page profile workshop with his class so that the students could learn and share more information about and with each other. During three one hour workshops, Logan participated with his class. They did different activities to share what they liked about each other, what is important to them and how best to support them. They then went on to put this information into a scrapbook one-page profile. Logan’s class posted their profiles on a bulletin board outside their classroom to share with the school.

Shortly after the profiles were developed Logan began having difficulty with another student. They sat next to each other in class and Logan was too noisy for her.  She needed it to be quiet in order to concentrate.  Logan’s mom suggested getting together with the other student and her mom to iron out the situation but Logan and his classmate decided to come up with a solution on their own. They used their profiles and expanded on the information to learn about each other, have a discussion and come up with a solution. Logan and his classmate along with the two moms got together to celebrate the success.

Modifications were discussed with Logan’s teacher to make the learning environment more successful for both students. The two would sit further away from each other and Logan would have a pad of paper on his desk to write down any ideas or questions that came to mind during class time if they did not fit into the current class discussion. He would then have time to come back to them and discuss these at recess or at the end of the day.

Using the profile as a starting point for conversation with Logan, his friend and the teacher made Logan feel valued and important in his life. He had control in making decisions about how to deal with situations, what modifications worked for him or how the team could change things to suit his needs.

Important conversations to support school pupils well

An example of how a one-page profile can be used in schools to support children well. Alice has difficulties with memory and communication and has specific needs that her mum, the school and her health team needed to understand in-depth and from her perspective in order to support her well.

Written by Tabitha Smith, SENCo

Alice oppAlice is a delightful 6 year old, currently in Year 2. She has a twin brother, with whom she gets on well; more so now that they are in different classes. Alice loves getting involved, being in the ‘thick of things’ and enjoys knowing what is going on. She is popular with adults and children as she always has a smile on her face.

Alice’s difficulties began to emerge when she was in Year 1. Having had speech therapy for her speech sounds, it became increasingly apparent that her difficulties went deeper than just her expressive communication. Alice was not making the progress that we would have hoped, and the main concern was the real difficulty she had in recall. With increasing concern, her mum ensured that her hearing was clear, arranged for an appointment with the paediatrician, and requested the involvement of the Educational Psychologist.

We knew that Alice’s needs were very specific, revolving principally around her difficulties with memory. Recently, she has become more self-aware that she cannot remember things, and this is upsetting and worrying her.

As a team supporting Alice and working with her on a daily basis, we felt that a detailed one-page profile would ensure that all adults had an empathy with Alice, as well as being given useful advice on how to support her.

Initially, we had a ‘Team Around the Child’ meeting with class teacher, SENCo, mum, Educational Psychologist (EP) and a trainee EP. We decided that the best course of action was to undertake a full assessment of Alice to establish exactly her areas of strength, as well as those areas to support. Once this assessment had been carried out we met again to pull together information for the three areas of a one-page profile. The draft was sent to the EP who carried out the assessment, as well as to mum and the class teacher. All suggested slight changes to clarify the information contained within the profile.

Alice’s one-page profile is kept in the register so that supply teachers will know how to support her well. The Teaching Assistants working in the class have a copy. At the end of each academic year, the profile will be handed on to Alice’s new teacher to ensure a deep understanding of her needs and how best to support her. It will be kept up to date through review meetings held twice a year, in addition to the parents meetings held twice a year.

Having a one-page profile has made a difference to Alice, and to the adults around her. The process of creating the profile is extremely valuable; important conversations took place to really understand Alice and how we can meet her needs. Alice’s mum feels listened to, and her teachers and those around her have a clear ‘road map’ to support her learning. Both teacher and mum say ‘the process of information gathering and in-depth discussion is so valuable. It gives everyone a chance to share concerns and to create a sensible way forward to support Alice and to ensure that all those around her are fully aware of her needs.’