Where did one-page profiles come from?

My daughter, Laura, had the first one-page profile when she was six, eight years ago.

She had been in Year 2, for three weeks, when she came home one day in tears, saying the teacher had told her off for wearing the wrong trousers in PE. When we went to see Laura’s teacher, she explained that she had not told Laura off, but had pointed out that if she only had shorts, and not jogging bottoms, then her legs would get cold. She also said that she had not really been able to get to know Laura, as she is quiet in class.

We decided that we needed to help the teacher to learn more about Laura – and quickly. At that time I was the Department of Health’s expert advisor in person-centred planning, and I knew this could be a helpful approach, but I also knew that teachers would not have the time to read the detailed plans we were using. So, I created a one-page version for Laura – a one-page profile.

The first part of a one-page profile is an appreciation  – what people like or admire about the child. We involved Laura’s extended family in contributing to this. It was lovely for Laura to hear what her family likes and admires about her. Then, over a hot chocolate in a cafe, Laura and I thought about what was important to her – her yellow Teddy Sunny who slept on her bed, her three cats, the stick insects and wondering if their eggs would hatch; and what we know as her parents about the best ways to help and supporter her – recognising that she finds change difficult and needs lots of reassurance, and that she can perceive a small negative comment as a big telling off.  Laura drew a picture of herself for the background of the profile and we made an appointment to share it with her teacher.

‘This would have been very useful to have had at the beginning of the year’, she said. She talked about how helpful this information would be at some of the important transition times, like children coming from nursery into school, and moving from class to class.

Laura’s one-page profile helped her move from class to class. Each year we updated it with Laura, and her teacher and Laura drew a new picture or chose a photo of herself.

Fast-forward now to 2011 when, at the same school, Norris Bank, every child has a one-page profile. This film shares, how they have made this happen, and the difference it has made. Back when Laura was six, and I was nervously sharing her first one-page profile with her teacher, I would not have believed that we would be sharing a film where the incoming Chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Educational Psychologists, teachers, children and parents, from both primary and secondary schools would share what one-page profiles mean to them. Now Laura is 14 years, and the photo was taken at the launch of the film, at the House of Commons, this week.

The film is part of a new website – Personalising Education (www.personalisingeducation.org), where this journey continues, and you can read how our partner schools, in the UK, Canada, and even India, are using one-page profiles, and person-centred practices to bring about deep changes through personalisation in education. Please share the film and the website with anyone who is interested in this, and please let us know if you are interesting in exploring one-page profiles in your school – whether as a teacher or parent. We would love to hear from you.

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