Introducing one-page profiles in school – a different way of thinking

Written by David Noble, Head of Middle School at Manchester Grammar School

It was because we understand the importance of treating our pupils as individuals and nurturing their individual gifts and talents outside of the standard classes that we embarked on our personalisation journey and made contact with Helen Sanderson Associates.

It was 2012 and after learning about one-page profiles with H S A Consultant Gill Goodwin, we set about introducing the tool to year 9 and year 10 pupils – 360 pupils in total.  A one-page profile is generally considered to be the foundation of personalisation (personalised support tailored to an individual). It is a simple tool that facilitates good conversations with people and draws out information that is then recorded on a single page. It illustrates what people like and admire about another, what is important to them and how best to support them. Its power lies in its simplicity and its ability to communicate well and empower individuals. It can also be used by teachers to better understand a pupil.

The most attractive function that we felt the process could perform for us was encouraging the pupils to think in a slightly different way. One-page profiles are about your hopes and fears, your passions and your dislikes. They encourage the pupils to think and talk about what is important to them and how best to support them in this. These are questions and ideas that many people (and in particular,  teenage boys) don’t get asked and therefore don’t spend much time thinking about.

When first introducing the one-page profiles we used what we believed to be the best, most in-depth (and therefore comprehensive) method of gathering the information; a one- to-one session between the boys and their Tutors. During this time together, pupils completed an appreciation exercise and discussed what was important in their lives. We later changed this approach for a more resilient one realising that it wasn’t sustainable in our school environment (but more on this in future blogs). We quickly understood the power of one-page profiles and their ability to get the boys to reflect in a way that other school activities didn’t. Having been a teenage boy and having worked with them in schools, I’ve observed that on balance little importance is placed on encouraging self-reflection and engaging critically with one’s own character. We wanted to make a point that quality self-reflection is a very important part of a person’s development and future success.

I think the introduction of this ‘way of thinking’ has been the single most successful outcome of the one-page profiles in our school so far.  The process of producing them, the questions that were thought about and the conversations that were had, have taken our pupils into new directions and this is invaluable.

In my next blogs I’ll be talking more about the mechanics of introducing one-page profiles in school, what we have learned along the way and how we refined our approach to something bespoke that suits us. I will also discuss the ways in which we have tried to involve parents in the process.


Making a difference across home and school – Jacob’s one-page profile

Here is an excellent example of how one-page profiles in schools can help pupils and teachers adjust to a new term, build confidence, enhance understanding and communicate additional support needs. Jacob had struggled to make progress with his writing and to engage in certain lessons. His one-page profile has helped him turn this around, with his writing improving significantly and a better consistency in support between home and school.

Written by Jacob’s Mum, Marianne

My son Jacob is nine years old. He lives at home with me, his dad and his two younger brothers. Jacob loves playing computer games and watching films. Jacob doesn’t get any formal additional support at school but has been struggling for a couple of years to make progress with his writing. He enjoys being in class but can find it difficult to concentrate when the subject matter doesn’t grab his attention.

Jacob’s youngest brother has had a one-page profile for quite a while and so during the summer holidays before starting Year 5, Jacob and I decided we would develop one for him too. We hoped it would help his new teacher get to know him quickly. We asked Jacobs teachers who already knew him well to tell us what they had learnt about him over the last year. We asked them to focus in particular on the things they liked about him as well as the support he needs to get the most out of learning.

We also asked the rest of our family what they love about him. Jacob spent time thinking about the things he most enjoyed about being at school – the things that meant he had a great day there. Jacob loves playing on his dad’s ipad and decided he wanted to use an app called pic collage to develop what his profile looked like. This meant he could design it as he wanted to.

Jacob took his one-page profile back to school with him after the summer holidays and gave it to his new teacher. A copy was also given to his Kumon teacher which he started at the same time. The profile is kept on our fridge at home so everyone can see it. His dad and I use the ‘important for’ section in particular when helping him with his homework. The plan is to update it properly, once a year. As the summer term comes to an end, we will ask his Year 5 teachers to share their learning about how best to support Jacob at school in preparation for helping year 6 get off to the best start.

 Jacob is already working out how his next profile will look – he’s decided that the wrestling and superheroes photos will most likely be replaced with Skylanders! Jacob really enjoyed creating his own profile. He said that he liked having a photo that wasn’t of him wearing his school uniform and he liked being able to find photos of the things he likes to put on it.


When his profile was given to his Kumon teacher, she said it was one of the most useful things she had seen in terms of understanding Jacobs learning support needs straight away.

His school teacher was new to the whole school not just Jacob, so his profile helped her quickly get a feel for what mattered to Jacob, how to get him and keep him interested in learning.

We absolutely loved hearing from his year 4 teachers what they liked about him as did Jacob! It was so good to hear the genuine affection and regard they had for him and to hear how different he is at school from at home. We also found the information about how to support him at school really helpful and detailed. We hadn’t been given this information previously and it made a real difference to how we now support Jacob at home with school work.

Jacob has made real progress in his first two terms of year 5. The school has a better understanding of how to engage in what he is learning and his concentration has therefore improved. He has made more progress in his writing this year than he has in the previous three years and there is more consistency between home and school in how we all support him. I’m looking forward to repeating the process each year and seeing how Jacob and his one-page profiles evolve.









It’s all in the detail

This month I have been excited and inspired by the work happening at The Manchester Grammar School. Gill and I met with the teachers to take stock of what we have been trying and learning together. As part of this, we talked about the impact that doing one-page profiles had made on teachers.

Dr Samuel Crawshaw is a Head of Year at The Manchester Grammar School, and he is my guest blogger this month. He describes how he started to develop his own one-page profile, and was then supported to add detail by Gill Goodwin, who asked him questions to help draw out the information to complete his one-page profile.

After our pastoral school staff spoke to Helen about how other schools had been using One-Page Profiles, we realized that the first step in introducing them to our pupils would be for teachers to have a go at writing their own One-Page Profile. My first attempt at writing anything down was done at home during the summer holidays. I asked my wife and children for some attributes to put in the appreciation box on my One Page Profile. My daughter said that I was “not boring” whilst my wife suggested that I was a “great dancer”. My thoughts on what is important to me were quite vague, which meant that I also struggled to fill in the final box describing how others could support me.

At that stage, this was the information that I had in my one-page profile:

Like and Admire: Friendly, Organised, “not boring”, “great dancer”

What is important to me:

  • I like supporting my family and making sure they are ok
  • I love watching good (and bad) films with my kids
  • Running
  • Playing with my guinea pigs, Nibbles and Pops
  • Experiencing wilderness
  • Making Biology inspiring

How to support me

  • Don’t shout at me; if something is important to you, make sure you have my attention, and then tell me
  • If I’m on the phone, let me concentrate
  • Encourage me to go for a run

Gill Goodwin was the trainer supporting us in developing one-page profiles. She looked at my One-Page Profile with me and asked me some thoughtful questions about some of the things that I had stated were important to me. She helped me to transform a one-word statement such as “running” into a clearer explanation of how far, when and why I wanted to run. I work in a busy pastoral office between lessons, and Gill also helped me to explain in my One-Page Profile what I found difficult about working in such a busy and sometimes crowded space. My colleagues then had some clearer ideas about how they could help and understand me. Our pastoral team also took part in some exercises to list each others’ attributes, which was a great way for us to bond as a team.

Here is how my one-page profile developed to be more detailed:

Like and admire: Approachable, Responsive, Organised, Engaging

What is important to me:

  • Not to be late for lessons
  • To respond promptly to emails and phone calls, to me this means on the same working day that I receive them
  • To have a written record of pastoral decisions made about pupils; this means that I prefer to confirm decisions by email, so that when my memory lets me down, I can remember what was decided and who authorised it
  • It’s really important that I eat an evening meal with my family every day, so I should usually leave school by 6.00pm
  • I am happiest when I run at least 10 miles a week – a couple of miles before school every day helps me clear my head and wake up

How to support me

  • Know that not being late for lessons is important to me, please don’t be offended if I have to suddenly end a conversation – I often have to get to the other end of the school site to teach lessons
  • Please read the contents of my emails carefully (I’ll try to be succinct) and respond if I have asked for something – I may need this to confirm that we have both agreed to the same plan of action for a pupil
  • If I’m on the phone, let me concentrate
  • Tell me to go home if I’m still at work after 6pm

Heads of Year and other pastoral staff used our own experiences of writing One-Page Profiles to explain the ethos of personalization to parents, pupils and form tutors. We showed our early drafts, and also our final One-Page Profiles, as examples of the process we had been through, to define exactly what was working well for us, and also aspects of our lives that we wanted to develop. My One-Page Profile was also shown to pupils in assemblies and tutorials, so that our pupils could see that making a One Page Profile should be an enjoyable and fun experience. Our pupils were keen to embrace the idea, and I knew that they were fully engaged in the process, because pupils started asking me if I’d been for a run yet that day when they passed me on the corridor!

Writing a One Page Profile has helped me and my colleagues to support each other more effectively in the daily little things, as well as the big things. The most positive aspect for me has been that one of my colleagues now comes into my office and switches the light off if I’m working too late. I’m getting out running much more than I used to, and I feel I have more energy to teach fun, exciting lessons.

Making progress in personalisation in schools

My guest blogger is Sue Williams who is the Lead Service Manager and Executive head teacher for Stanmore House and Corseford Schools.

Progress for Providers is a range of self-assessments for providers in personalisation ( Sue went on a course that looked at Progress for Providers for managers, and decided to use it at her school (  Her blog describes what she is doing as a result.

“I attended a Progress for Providers course focusing on Self Directed support and identifying organisational readiness for change. I was engaged and motivated with the content of the course throughout the two days and came away “buzzing “ as only a well organised and delivered course can achieve. So often however once back at school day to day life overtakes me and once I have fed back the contents of the course to my leadership teams I have lost the desire to develop things further. Not so with this course!

Once back at school I initiated a joint leadership team meeting made up of the leadership teams of two special schools, Corseford and Stanmore House. Both Schools are owned by Capability Scotland where review and reflection for improvement is standard practice through its Quality Management System.

The leadership teams used the audit tool provided by Progress for Providers as a tool to identify how far the schools were in providing a personalised learning environment for our pupils, most of whom have complex learning, physical and communication needs. From this we drew up an action plan to guide us in the next year to improving our services.

In further changing the culture of attitudes of staff towards personalisation we decided that we would expand peer observations to include our classroom support staff, peer observations having been practice for a year or two for teachers. At first Classroom staff were hesitant about the prospect of been observed by their peers so we involved them significantly in the process. For the first round of observations we didn’t set an agenda but asked for comments and an evaluation of the process. The results were very positive. so much so that we were able to agree with the support staff that the next round would be much more structured and based around the outcomes from “How Good Is Our School “. Responses were ”I have learned so much from my colleagues and want to put it into practice in my own classroom”,” I really enjoyed having the opportunity to have some dialogue with my colleagues as it helped me to understand my own role in the classroom in supporting young people”.

To support our annual review process we decided that we would aggregate the responses we received from parents and carers to see if there were any significant issues or trends. As an organisation we are familiar with analysing data and felt that this gave us further evidence to improve our practices. What resulted was that almost all parents were happy with the individualised education children and young people received but that for a few there were things that we could do better. We were then able to focus our attention on these issues and report to all parents the improvements we had made. These improvements included including elements of pupils IEP targets into the Annual performance review discussions with teachers and classroom support staff, thus making the meetings focused staff supporting pupils to achieve personalised outcomes.”

A note about the schools

Both schools are grant aided by the Scottish Government. They are run by the disability charity Capability Scotland, which campaigns with, and provides education, employment and care services for disabled people across Scotland.

Both Schools are judged to be Sector Leaders by Education Scotland. Corseford School is a Sector Leader in Pupils as confident Individuals, Effective Partnerships and Individual Pupil Profiling. Stanmore House is Sector Leader in Meeting Pupils Needs.

Positive and productive meetings at Oxley Park Academy

By Michelle Livesley

Oxley Park Academy is an outstanding primary school in Milton Keynes that has always been ahead of its time, so it should have been no surprise that the school wanted to train its teachers and pupils in the art of conducting positive and productive meetings.  I had never done this type of training with children before – and I’m not sure anyone else has either. Could this be a world first for a Positive and Productive Meetings training session?

Both pupils and staff benefited from the training and during one particular exercise, much to the amusement of the teachers, the children showed the adults how things should be done.

The objective of a Positive and Productive Meetings training session is to make sure meetings become thinking environments, where everyone’s voice is heard, where good information is shared and where outcomes are agreed.  Staff at the school had been experiencing some pretty typical problems during key stage staff
meetings and management meetings.  Year six teacher Corinna said, “In many meetings we felt we were having information passed to us but no opportunity to discuss it.  And time wasn’t used effectively. We had all these things we wanted to talk about but ended up using the whole time talking about one thing.  People would end up leaving the meeting disappointed because their burning issue wasn’t even addressed.”


The teachers needed to improve their meetings skills, but the pupils, who had no prior experience of meetings at all, needed to learn these skills from scratch.  The school decided that the eight pupil ambassadors on the Peace Council – children who had received special anti-bullying training provided by the Diana Award – should attend my session.  The idea was that these pupils would then pass on their training to pupil members of the School Council and Eco Council.We started by examining what was working and not working during meetings, then I divided the staff and pupils into teams and asked them to create visuals showing the purpose of a meeting. This was where the pupils shone. Whilst the teachers were still debating what to do, the children used glitter and coloured pens to create a wonderful graphic that showed they were crystal clear about the purpose of their Peace Council meetings.  Another teacher, Dawn, said, “They put the adults to shame, I’m proud to say!”

As the agenda is the tool that ensures a successful meeting outcome, we spent some time learning how to construct one correctly. We also learned how everyone in a meeting should have a defined role, from facilitator to time-keeper, and how simple techniques like thinking rounds can ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

We used the ‘not working’ items as the basis for a mini meeting agenda and Corrina commented that a great deal of honesty came out during that particular session. “It really helped seeing everything from everyone’s perspective,” she said. Corrina reported that since the training staff are now preparing agendas in advance of key stage meetings and are far more efficient at time keeping – and that thinking rounds are even being used in lessons.

Staff felt that, far from being a hindrance, it was a joy to have the children included in the training, especially when they spoke up for themselves in this new and challenging environment.  But whilst they responded well to the creative tasks given, it was clear that some of the more structured processes would need to be introduced gradually, as the children became more confident in the meeting environment. Perhaps it is best to start with easier concepts like thinking rounds and then introduce more rigorous ideas gradually.


One important thing that the pupils learned from the process, though, was that meetings should be run democratically. Dawn said, “A big lesson learned by the pupils is that everyone around the table is an equal and has a right to an opinion.”

My one-page profile – by head teacher Howard Bousfield

by Howard Bousfield, Head teacher at Norris Bank school, Stockport

Every child in our school now has a one-page profile and we’ve moved on to the staff.  It is early days and a few are really understanding the process and altering their behaviour and how they support others around them.

Rather than pushing the teachers, my deputy head, Tabitha, and I decided to lead by example. We each wrote our one-page profiles and stuck them up on the staff room wall.  To be honest it took guts to do this – our profiles are very honest and open – and I had no idea I’d be so staggered at the outcome.

Before I tell the story, you need to know about the sort of leader that I am.  I’ve been head teacher at Norris Bank primary for eight years and before that was deputy head at another Stockport school. I believe in a culture where we appreciate the talents and skills of others before we criticise them and I welcome feedback and support from teaching staff that are perceived to be beneath me.

My one- page profile and Tabitha’s were on the wall for about three months and became part of the scenery. On mine, under the section about things that were important to me, I had said that I enjoy having an energised team around me, I want to feel proud of the school and I want to feel calm and in control in challenging situations.  On the section about how to support me, I was very specific. I said that when I am nervous, I sometimes struggle to recall my words.  I said, please be patient with me, I’ll eventually recall what I want to say and then I’ll carry on talking.  I also asked that staff give me feedback on how I deal with challenging situations. I may feel wobbly afterwards and feedback will give me reassurance.

Then, sure enough, a challenging situation arrived. We had an SEN child in school with  autism. It fell to me to explain to the parents and all the agencies involved that soon the school may not be able to provide the education the child needed.  A teaching colleague and I led the meeting.  She ran it in the form of a person-centred review of the child and although the approach was very one-page profile on wallgood, I felt the tension and anxiety in the room. When it came to delivering the bad news, I tried to be sympathetic.  I had thought through how to approach this very carefully as I recognised it would be a blow to the parents.

A day or so later I got an email from the teacher.  It was a round-up of work we are doing together.  At the end she’d say, “By the way, I noticed that you said on your one-page profile that you struggle with confrontational situations.  I thought I’d give you some feedback.  You did really well in that difficult meeting – well done!”

This was a magical moment for me as a leader.  I was blown away by her courage and by the whole one-page profile process.  It had given me the opportunity to understand and express who I am and my colleague the chance to feel closer to me and build a trusting relationship with me.   Getting this positive feedback was a confidence booster for me, too.  I’ve noticed that I’m having better conversations since this happened.  I’m not panicking when things get tough – I’m understanding who I am. I really feel that I am changing as a person and as a leader.

Our next work at Norris Bank is to look at sharing all our staff profiles.  There’s no point in everyone doing them unless they are shared. To my mind, if just one staff member gets one positive result from this process a year, then it will have been a worthwhile exercise.

A one-page profile health warning

My guest blogger today is Emily, Lucy-s Mum. She shares a very important health warning for anyone using one-page profiles in school.

“I’ve just come back from a really positive meeting at school today.

Lucy’s had a one-page profile for several years now and so far things have worked out really well and she’s been supported with understanding and insight. Just before Christmas there were a couple of things that happened in school that had me worried. I realised then that we hadn’t updated her profile for her move from year 7 to 8 and perhaps this was why a few things were going wrong!

The first thing that had happened was when she got an after school detention for being rude to a teacher and not handing in homework ( that she’d done!). When I managed to calm her (and myself) down it turned out she had put her homework in her folder behind another piece of paper and couldn’t find it when she looked in class. She knew it was there and became agitated when it didn’t seem to be, her teacher said she would have to have a break time detention for not doing it and Lucy, unable to cope with the injustice, ended up being rude. She is usually very polite but has been known to get very upset when she feels hard done by! I was concerned that the whole situation could have been avoided if support had been provided to calm her down, to believe her and to help her go methodically through her folder.

The next thing that happened was when she ended up getting a huge amount of homework due in the next day because she hadn’t had support in writing this in her planner days and even weeks in advance . I estimated that this would take her about 3 hours with support and felt strongly this wasn’t a realistic expectation. Again this could have been avoided with a bit of thought!

So it led me to think that Lucy’s profile needed up dating and the teaching assistants working with her for some reason weren’t aware or familiar with the best ways to support her. I’m kicking myself that we didn’t update her one page profile at the end of year 7 but on reflection perhaps it had done it’s job so well in the transition from primary to secondary and Year 7 was so successful that we’d forgotten the importance of keeping it fresh and up to date!

Anyway back to our meeting. I had a really productive hour long meeting with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator and Special Needs Learning Coach. It turns out there’d been some supply staff in who hadn’t had access to Lucy’s profile (no surprise there) and the teaching assistant who has most input into Lucy’s pastoral care had been off for more than half a term. This TA has been fantastic and had been earmarked as the trusted adult available to Lucy if she felt anxious or upset (as outlined in her profile!).  We agreed a couple of things straight away that would make Lucy feel more supported and therefore give her more happy, productive days and made it a priority to develop a new one page profile.

So I have learned a health warning about One-Page Profiles. This is that they have ‘use by’ dates and in future I’ll make sure that Lucy’s is fresh and healthy!”

You can see Lucy’s One-Page Profile here: