An alternative to setting targets through SEN Statements

A wonderful example of how one-page profiles can help schoolchildren who experience autism communicate what is important to and for them whilst sharing their personal skills and gifts in a way that works well for them. Connor’s story demonstrates how one-page profiles can be used in person-centred reviews as an alternative to solely setting targets through SEN Statements; putting him at the heart of all decision making.

Connor's school one-page profile

Connor’s school one-page profile

Written by SENCo Debra Ayers from Blaenbaglan Primary School

Connor is eleven years old and has a dual diagnosis of speech, language and communication difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder. He is very caring and loves singing and drama. His personality endears him to adults and he has built some good friendships. He speaks as he finds and has a sense of humour if the joke isn’t on him.

Connor’s one page profile was created in readiness for his transition to Comprehensive school so that the new people in his life could get to know him a little before meeting him and Connor could tell them what he thought was important for them to know about him.

Connor completed ‘what’s important to me?’ independently and ‘good day bad day’ was shared with staff to create ‘how best to support me’. His peers, staff and family contributed to ‘what we like and admire’. He created his profile in school using ‘Pages’ (i-pad) and included a video. The profile was completed over the course of five teaching sessions in a week.

Connor’s profile is on display in school and has been shared with staff in his new school, his family, the LEA and professionals who are currently working with him. It was sent out with his invitation to his first person-centred review. It has been used in preparing for this review through discussion with Connor, his mother, teacher and speech and language therapist, identifying what’s working / not working and possible outcomes to be considered in the review meeting. It’s a working document which he can amend and add to.

He has loved making it and it portrays so much about him, even down his choice of colours and use of video. It has helped staff working with him gain a deeper insight into his views in and out of school. It has certainly helped us realise the importance of not assuming we know everything! Even his mother was surprised at one thing he included in ‘best ways to support me’. It helped us realise how astute Connor is about his likes, strengths and needs. It has helped family and professionals realise how they can support him and use the profile as the link to encouraging him to become increasingly independent by offering something that we know he wants or is important to him and putting in strategies that will enable this to be successful.

Connor loves sharing his profile with others and it has helped him to build relationships with less familiar adults and peers. The profile, as part of the person-centred review process, has, undoubtedly, made Connor central to the decision making process and the outcomes are pertinent to him at this moment in time, rather than having targets set linked to his Statement of SEN and what we as parents and professionals consider to be important for him.

We thought we knew Connor well before producing his one-page profiles but he still surprised us and his mother. It gives an amazing insight that we just hadn’t managed to achieve before! The person-centred review process, has changed the way we will prepare for and conduct review meetings. Connor is now at the heart of the process, being fully involved in the meeting and actively buying into the outcomes because they are important to him.

By regaining your identity, you release your child to build theirs

Guest Blog by Rachel Mason, Parent carer

Rachel Mason

Rachel Mason

Once upon a time, I had a live-in job at a Prep school as a boarding matron at the time. Looking after all those little ones, would get me dreaming of the day when I’d have my own.

On my nights off, my now hubby and I would  sit in the pub and picture picnics at the coast and football in the park.  We just knew we’d make brilliant parents

This was probably the last time I allowed myself to dream for many years to come.

We began our journey as an SEN family in 1989 when my eldest son Greg was diagnosed with Autism and learning disabilities at 27 months old and Shaun with Autism 2 years later. As time went on our dreams disappeared and  my life seemed to be shrinking in ever decreasing circles until I was living day to day in a reactionary survival mode. There were plenty of specialist services around our sons, delivering to their own assessed needs.

Year in, Year out we would read reports of their progress towards the ‘social norm’ but for our family it was always Groundhog Day.

We were passive passengers on this new journey that services had set our family on.

We had lost any control of our lives and  the will to dare dream of a different future than the one chosen for us.

In 2004, Norah Fry research centre and Helen Sanderson Associates (HSA) were doing a joint project piloting a 6 week  intro to person centred planning and were looking for families to participate. I joined a small group of 8 parents who were gathered gingerly in the back room of a local pub. We knew of each other in passing at parents’ evenings or school fetes but each you could see was on their own island. An isolation that had been caused by the process of service pathways, separating us from our mainstream peers, each other and our community.

When we were asked to introduce ourselves we were “Greg’s Mum, Sarah’s Mother..” we could talk for hours about them..

.. but  all of us were like rabbits in headlights when asked to talk about ourselves!

Think about it for a moment.. We had all spent year after year reliving our child’s experiences and  repeating our child’s life history for services. There wasn’t anything we didn’t know about our child. We had invested so much that it was as though we had taken on their identity!

This role left no time to be a wife, a daughter , a friend. There was no room in our preoccupied short term memory to store our own memories that we had had a life and aspirations for ourselves and our family before this.

We were taken on a personal journey that for some was quite emotional but most importantly for all, liberating.

As we talked over the weeks we realised  the way in which systems of support within services were set up, had gradually deskilled us and the ownership of  ‘any future’ we might get, now belonged to services

The aim of the course was to introduce us to some person centred planning tools and how we could use them to gain back some of that control and determine our own future  outcomes for our  family

In order to do this for our children, the facilitator wanted us to look at ourselves first. Enable us to see ourselves as individuals.  We were asked to write our own one-page profile. Believe me when I tell you – it was like pulling teeth!

It was as though we had all ‘archived’ that part of us in order not to get distracted from our advocacy role by our own hopes and dreams and also, if I’m honest, to protect ourselves from continuous disappointment when our personal goals  were constantly sacrificed.

We were all so exhausted by the system  that we had forgotten the many skills and assets we had and it was very rewarding to recall and record them.

We all left this project changed people.

For some it was an awakening to a lost identity inside themselves but most importantly it helped us all to separate ourselves from our child, enabling us to step back and allowing them to build their own.

Having a one-page profile for myself helped me to find a healthier caring/ life balance. It gave me back perspective, this in turn gave me renewed strength and purpose to work towards my own goals as well as those of my sons

Up until now I had not even thought there was a future for my son. Now I realised that not having a plan for him and constantly reliving his past whilst working with services, meant he was unable to move on as I (his identity) was risk averse and stuck in the past.

Whereas before I could not see the wood for the trees, with clear positive statements within our one-page profiles, I would see solutions instead of problems. I now saw services around my son as ‘tools and resources’ to achieve his aspirations. The one-page profile was the guide that his supporters could use along with his 247grid which I used to map his progress and where he still needed extra support. At last we felt more in control as a family.

My son’s one-page profile also supported me to have a better conversation with schools who began to see me as a partner.  We were at last  ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’ (page 37)

I truly believe being introduced to one-page profiles changed my life and the continuing life journey we took as a family to achieve what we have to day.

Revolutionising the way we teach

One-page profiles are used with every pupil in this school so that teachers can personalise the education and support that they give. Capturing the individual information about each child in this way has changed the way they teach and share information. This is Sion’s story.

Sion's one-page profile

Sion’s one-page profile

Written by Teacher, Carys Bird

Sion is 14 years old, born one of twins, he is on the autistic spectrum and has no verbal language but makes his needs known by making noises and reaching for items. Sion has severe learning disabilities, and attends a Special Needs School.

As a school we took the approach that each pupil would have a one-page profile and a person-centred review.  Sion’s profile was developed as part of that piece of work.  We wanted to take a person-centred approach to education to ensure that we supported each pupil as an individual and to make sure that others had positive and useful information about each child as they came into school as visitors or professionals.

Sion’s one-page profile was developed by classroom staff, as well as others who know him well.  It has been added to and changed over the years as Sion has grown and developed.  We use the person-centred review process annually and this gives us the opportunity to formally update Sion’s profile with his parents and other professionals who support him.

Sion’s one-page profile can be accessed quickly from a file in the classroom enabling people to identify Sion, and to be immediately aware of how best to support him, as well as giving them a positive description and information which helps them to engage with Sion.  As he enters ‘transition’ it will be used to inform the development of his Transition Plan.

Using one-page profiles throughout our school has made understanding the needs of pupils at each level much easier.  For Sion, it has taken the guesswork out of getting to know and understand him, especially for new staff coming into school, and professionals who are starting to work with him through transition, such as his careers adviser.

Other people knowing how to interact and engage with Sion has led to him feeling more comfortable with staff and has reduced his anxieties when around new people. This has resulted in him having more positive connections with others and he will now sit alongside his fellow pupils in class of his own accord.

As all staff understand the importance of consistency in supporting Sion, he is now able to have more social opportunities out and about as part of his school day.  Staff no longer have to delve into huge files to find the information, which is not clear and concise, in order to support Sion well . His one-page profile holds all the vital information and positively presents Sion, making it easier for people to support him in what he wants to do and build a relationship with him based on a deeper understanding.

To learn more about personalising education visit www.personalisingeducation.org