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The ‘One-Page Profiles’ Film

We are all really excited about the prospect of the One-Page Profile project being filmed at Norris Bank. What an honour! We have been approached to be part of this project, to 'spread the word' about the role that One-Page Profiles can play in a mainstream school.

As I wanted all members of staff to feel informed and involved in the process of the filming, I met with our Teaching Assistants and explained how I would like them to be on the film. This is especially important as our TAs were pivotal in collecting information about the children on a 1:1 basis. I have reported how beneficial they found this process in previous Blog entries.

Then yesterday we held our staff meeting, dedicating the whole session to why the film is being made, and how the teachers need to play a key part in it.

I recapped the development of One-Page Profiles here at school:

  • Using specially designed sheets and class based activities we collect information about the children; 'important to' and 'like and admire'.
  • Combining this with parental contributions, we create an informative and positive portrait of the child.
  • Referring to the knowledge that the children have of themselves, and the knowledge that the parents and the teachers have, we can create a picture of the whole child.

We discussed the very positive impact the whole process has on the social and emotional, as well as academic development of our pupils.

  • Social development: for the child, the parents, the TA's and the teachers.
  • Emotional development: for the child and their parents.
  • Educational: for the child and their teachers.
  • To see the child as a whole person, not just as 'a pupil'.

We then moved on to remind everyone how this is now an integral part of the academic year.

  • Spring term PHSE unit 'It's good to be me' is an opportunity to revisit, revise, edit and adapt the postcard. Practical and easy, yet meaningful.
  • Spring term parents evening, opportunity for parents to read and add to.
  • Summer term in preparation for transfer to a new teacher, create a new Profile, using the updated information from the Spring term. Done as part of the work on transition - 'what does your new teacher need to know about you….?'
  • New profile handed on to the new teacher, by the child on the 'meet the teacher' day. Essential and relevant information for the new teacher to have.
  • Previous, edited Profile sent home in the report.
  • Autumn term parents evening opportunity for parents to read and add to.
  • Specific children may have their profiles more to hand for supply teachers etc.
  • Bookmarks can be developed throughout the school year to focus on reading skills, and as a lovely way in, for adult reading helpers to get to know the child better.

All the staff discussed how they find the whole process, and the impact that it has on the class. Our PHSE coordinator talked about how this approach is central to developing the SEAL curriculum (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning), as well as the Every Child Matters Agenda.

Although I am keen to stay in the background of the film, I know who I want to play a lead role! Watch this space to find out who the celebrity voice over will be!

Valuing PHSE

Last month, I wrote about how we were going to involve the children in the School Agreements on a deeper and more meaningful level.

All the teachers were given the outline of activities that they could do with the class, and four weeks to do this work in. This type of activity should become an integral part of class teaching time, as the Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) life of schools is taking a higher priority within the OFSTED agenda.

However, as with many things in school, this activity did not turn out as I was expecting! We live and learn all the time!

It became clear to me that the Personal Health and Sex Education (PHSE) side of the curriculum is not given the time, attention and priority that it should be. It is the one subject that regularly becomes squeezed as the pressures to fit everything else in take over. Potentially, teachers did not give the activities the thought that was needed beforehand? Many teachers reported back to me that it was a very hard activity, and that the children needed a lot of support and guidance in coming forward with their own ideas and suggestions. Yet one of our teachers did a superb job, collecting quotations along the way.

So where do we go from here? I think we need to raise the profile of PHSE teaching across the school. I think we need to emphasise the importance to developing children's social awareness and develop their idea of responsibility. As staff we need to see and understand the value of PHSE to the way a school runs. This will feed into the Spring term work on updating and revising our One Page Profiles.

A Lesson Plan to use Working Together for Change in Class

We are working on keeping the School Agreements live and relevant to the children. We also want to gather information from the children to inform the School Development Plan. To this end, our teachers will work with them over the next few weeks to find out their thoughts and opinions. To help the teachers, I have written an outline of activities that can be used. I talked this through with the teachers at our staff meeting, and will gather the information about what is working and not working just before the February half term holiday.

The lesson plan is based on making sure all children really understand what is in the School Agreements and then think about what is working and not working from their perspective. Each class will then decide on actions they can take, to build on what is working and change what is not working.

The following is the information given to teachers:

 

Why do this mini project in PHSE sessions?

The PHSE topic is 'Going for Goals' and this mini project fits in perfectly.

It will encourage a feeling of responsibility.

It will develop children's ability to listen, to share ideas, to talk, to make decisions. Children can be challenged to explain themselves.

It meets the different stages on the Blooms Taxonomy 'triangle'.

It develops the idea of Pupil Voice in a meaningful way.

It teaches the idea of how a process can be worked through.

It will have links to whole school assemblies.

The findings will be reported back to children, parents and governors.

It is a way for all children to contribute to goals for the class and to the whole school, as this information is fed into the School Development Plan.

 

Part One: What do the School Agreements MEAN to the children?

Each class will take one of the School Agreements. (By all means do more if you want, but as a minimum you must cover the agreement allocated to your class).

Discuss with your class what this actually means. What does this agreement look like in practice both within the class, and around the school?

Record their ideas on the sheet provided using the children's language.

 

Part Two: What are we doing that is working well?

Look back at the statements the children have talked about, showing their understanding of the School Agreement.

Give two strips of coloured paper to pairs of children. (Age appropriate activity)

The children need to write down two things that show or gives an example of how this School Agreement is working well from their perspective. What things do they do that show the School Agreement is working? What is done that they are proud of linked to this School Agreement? This can be in the form of: 'I do….' and 'We do….'

Display the pieces of paper and ask the children to see if they can 'cluster' them into themes. (This will organise the 30 or so pieces of paper into a few main areas as there will be overlaps in children's contributions.)

As a class, discuss and then decide which the most important two themes are and record on the sheet.(Please keep the sheets of paper for a whole school display.)

 

Part Three: Actions or Goals

Talk about the things that the CLASS need to do to ensure that these key themes continue. What? Who? When by?

 

Part Four: What are we doing that is NOT working as well?

Look back at the School Agreement and the class' definition of this agreement.

This time, give the children two strips of coloured paper (different to the previous activity) to record the aspects of the School Agreement that they feel are not working so well; those aspects that they feel could be done better.

Display these (as before) and try to cluster them to make common themes.

From these common themes, get the class to decide which the most important two themes are. (Please keep the sheets of paper for a whole school display.)

 

Part Five: What can be done to change these?

Talk about the things that the CLASS need to do to ensure that these key themes change for the better. What? Who? When by?

 

We are excited about this as a way to really 'hear the children's voices' in making change, both to their class and to the school, through the School Development Plan.

What parents have told us through Working Together for Change

As I explained last month, we have encouraged parents to continue their involvement in the school via our Parents Evening and the Parents Forum using the Working Together for Change format. In October, parents were encouraged to write down comments covering three areas: the things that we do well (what is working, the things we could do differently/more of/better (what is not working)and an opportunity to ask questions abut the school(questions to answer). The comments made during Parents Evening were anonymous and parents wrote them on cards as they came in. At the Parents Forum we asked parents to write their comments on cards and then I clustered them with parents and addressed as many of the 'questions to answer' as I could. I learned that anonymous comments can be more blunt!

All of the comments - 85 in total - have been collated and categorised. Of the 85 total comments, an amazing 52 were extremely positive. The others we have been sorted into those comments and questions that can be answered with information, and those questions and comments that require us to take action. It was interesting that some areas(for example reading) were both on the 'things we do well' side and the 'things we could do differently' side. There will always be issues in school that some parents feel we do well and other parents feel we can do differently.

A sample of the positives are:

  • 'NBPS is like a big family - pleased to be part of it!!'
  • 'Well organised.  Positive experience. Thanks.'
  • 'Great enthusiastic teaching assistants, reader-helpers, make all the difference.  A big thank you.'
  • 'Friendly atmosphere.'
  • 'Photograph board - wonderful'
  • 'Reading skills challenged towards child's potential.'
  • 'Imaginative teaching.'

A sample of the issues causing concern are:

  • 'Please can the Year 5's play football on the field at lunch times.  It's not fair.'
  • 'For Reception class I feel that one book is enough to take home initially.'
  • 'Individual rewards like stickers etc not just class rewards.'
  • Less expensive school photos.

I have sent out an initial (fairly long) letter to parents explaining that I will feedback on all of the issues. Some will be easily answered with information whilst other comments will need some action taken by us. I will feedback a few positives, as well as concerns in our weekly newsletter, over the coming weeks. As well as directly addressing the issues raised by parents through Working Together for Change, their views will go to inform that School Improvement Plan. Next term we will be using Working Together for Change to gather the views of pupils, so that we can act on those, and ensure that they contribute to the School Improvement Plan as well.

Using Working Together for Change in School

This year we are going to really focus on our communication with parents, by using 'Working Together for Change.' Over the last few weeks, we have had two opportunities to consult with parents, and to engage with them in a positive and constructive way.Nov Blog

Prior to Parents Evening, I wrote to all parents asking them to come along a little earlier to a) read the hopes and stars aspirations of all the children b) to read the One Page Profiles that were in every child's drawer, and to add to these if parents so wished, and c) to contribute to three comments boards.

We took the approach of asking for comments on three different areas:

1) Aspects of the school that are going well (working)

2) Aspects of the school that we could do differently, or better, or more of (not working)

3) Questions they would like answering about the school (questions to answer)

We ran this exercise twice - during Parents Evening and again at our Parents Forum. Doing this type of exercise during Parents Evening potentially opened us up to anonymous criticism; it provided parents the opportunity to make negative remarks without having to justify themselves. This did make us stop and think as it would have been easy for us to put our defences! The second time was during a much more 'intimate' Parents Forum whereby parents had to stand by their concerns, and to talk about them. This led onto very constructive dialogue.

We have now catalogued and grouped the comments. The very many positive comments provided a definite 'feel good' atmosphere amongst staff. The 'could do better' comments have made us think about where we go next. We have grouped all these into three categories:

1) Those comments that can be answered by giving information

2) Those comments that need us to take some sort of action

3) Those comments that we need other people to action

I will report more on this in my next blog, to explain how we will feed back to parents.

I am also continuing to feedback to parents on a monthly basis our progress towards fulfilling the Schools Agreements and the Golden Rules. Having written about the School Agreement 'We are confident to try new things and take risks' and the Golden Rule 'We are kind and helpful', this month I will focus on the School Agreement 'We will provide lessons that engage children.'

I have written in our weekly newsletter: 'As staff, we are very aware of the need to inspire our children - be this through an attractive work environment, or through a wide range of exciting and memorable activities. As part of our staff development, we have been focusing on the elements of outstanding teaching. Key to this is the 'hook' into subjects, the 'end product' and having high expectations of all our pupils. Our teachers are excellent at planning hands on activities to make learning memorable. They might arrange to have a visitor in, or they might go out on a visit. They might dress up and become different characters in role. So far this term, we have had a Medieval Day, a Victorian Museum, mummifying oranges (!) air raid shelters built and then bombed, Egyptian reporters investigating tombs, and numerous trips. Children's learning is obviously greatly influenced by home.

Indeed, children spend much more time at home than at school, so we would ask that school is supported by you from home. Learning is so much easier when children are bright eyed, enthusiastic and fresh! By being involved in what your child has been learning will inspire them to learn even more. '

 

 

Introducing Working Together for Change

Last week, we held a Parents Forum meeting just for our new Reception parents. We have always held termly meetings for our parents, to give them the opportunity to ask questions and to raise concerns. However, we were very aware that new parents may have different questions and queries.

This meeting was very well attended, and the parents knew that our focus was 'Working Together For Change'. As parents arrived, they were given two slips of green paper, and two slips of blue paper. They were asked to write down on the green slips the areas that were being successful for them and for their children.

A sample of the comments on the green slips are as follows:

  • My son seems to have settled well, enjoys school and is very happy.
  • She has settled well with growing independence.
  • He has settled in very well.
  • He seems enthusiastic about his reading books.
  • Teaching seems to be inspiring to children - in all subjects.
  • Personal relationships: i.e. (a) between children in the class, (b) between children and teachers seem to be excellent
  • We are kept very well informed.
  • My daughter has settled really well and really quickly into school.  School have made a real effort to support friendships and settle the children.
  • My daughter has settled really well and seems to be making new friends.  We are thrilled with this as she can tend to be shy and quiet.
  • School feels very inclusive and seems to really encourage the children to make friendships.
  • My daughter is loving learning and really keen to read her book time after time.
  • The numeracy and literacy into evenings - very good for confused first time parents.
  • Really happy that he is happy and confident and that education can spring from there.  So I suppose the 'environment' generally.
  • They love the books and reading sets. I am impressed with how early in the term books and words are being sent home.
  • Information that is given to me regarding all aspects of school life.
  • She is really enjoying her reading book/sound book and words.
  • My daughter is happy and wants to come to school.
  • Already showing development with reading.
  • Settled in really well - made friends quickly.

On the blue slips, they were asked to write down areas that were not working for them. This was a really interesting exercise, as there did not seem to be any real pattern of areas of concern. We picked up these issues in the rest of the meeting, providing answers to many varied questions.

I am going to develop this formula even further when I hold my usual Parents Forum. I will build into this the opportunity to work on coloured slips of paper, and also add the element of establishing what is important for the future.

Over the past couple of weeks we have also had the Hopes and Stars sheets being returned to us. This is now an established part of our new academic year process whereby we give parents the opportunity to tell us what they hope their child will achieve this year. These are really lovely, and are displayed in the entrance hall.

The new Home School Agreement has a high profile as well. All children have been given a beautiful full colour laminated card, detailing the School Agreements and the Golden Rules. We refer to these during assemblies, in class time and also at the end of each month; I write a summary of how we are getting on, in relation to one of the School Agreements or the Golden Rules. This summary is put into our 'Friday Issue'. This will keep the profile high amongst pupils and parents.

The end of September update went as follows:

Each month, we will give you an update on our Golden Rules and our School Agreements. You will all have a beautiful copy of these, brought home by your children.

This month the focus is on one of the School Agreements -

'We are confident to try new things and take risks'.

Here at Norris Bank we are determined to offer our pupils exciting and challenging learning opportunities. Our teachers are encouraged to plan for exciting and new ways into subjects. Every class has trips and visits linked to the topic. We have an exciting range of Residential visits for our junior pupils. We also know the value of extra curricular activities. This term sees the introduction of a new Street Dance session for all of our Year 3 children, as well as Karate for our oldest pupils. Our orchestra is going from strength to strength, especially now it is part of curriculum time. Establishing our garden was a big step for us, but is proving to be a valuable and enjoyable part of the school. The extra dimension that this brings is wonderful. The new sporting activities that we participate in also demonstrate our desire to try new things.

As parents, we would really appreciate it if you can encourage your children to take part in the activities offered. You play a vital role in encouraging your children to try their best, to not give up when facing something new.

Together, we will achieve great things! 

 

Working Together for Change in Schools

Another school year and already we have so much planned! A very exciting aspect is that, as of last July, we are now working towards being a two form entry school. This means more children, more staff and more building work. The plans are superb so we are all looking forward to that.

Our work on Person Centred Learning is continuing to take a high priority as we develop a much greater pupil involvement in planning activities.

one page profile for schoolsAn important focus is going to be working with parents use 'Working Together for Change'. The Parents Forum meetings we hold every term will become more focussed. We will concentrate on aspects of school life that work for our parents, those aspects that are not working so well, and also things that are important for the future. This will be fed into the School Development Plan.

As the year progresses, we will have regular opportunities to update and keep 'live' our One Page Profiles. Now that all the children have a lovely 'postcard' with their interests on, we will update these each term. This will then feed into creating a new one to hand on to the next class teacher. We will consult with the pupils about aspects of school that are working / not working. This will be done via class assemblies as well as dedicated class time. one page profile for schools 2I am looking forward to working with the School Council on this too. In our community assemblies, we will consult with parents on more general aspects of school. We will also have at our assemblies a copy of the Home School Agreements, to keep them at the forefront of our minds. Keeping the new Home School Agreements live will also be done via monthly updates in our Friday Issues.

So as another school year starts at great pace, we have lots of exciting projects to develop and look forward to.

 

Reflecting on another academic year......

As another academic year draws rapidly to a close, it is interesting to reflect on the work that we have done.

 

There have been some major projects that have taken place, all having a positive impact on our drive to a more personalised approach to learning.

 

The Autumn term heralded our Ofsted inspection. We were more than ready for this, and we wanted it to be an opportunity to show the many things that we are proud of. For us, the experience was very positive; the team of inspectors was very friendly, they did actually smile and seemed to relax here….. indeed, one inspector sat himself down at lunchtime and played the piano in one of the classrooms. The final outcome was 'outstanding' which was very exciting for us. They spent a lot of time looking at how we care for our pupils, and they were very interested in the model of reviews which I have written about before.

 

bookmark 2We undertook a 'bookmarks' project, whereby all the pupils were given a beautiful bookmark. They recorded all the things that are important to them, as well as the things that they like about themselves. Then we focused on ways to support this child's reading.

 

The Spring term was spent re-invigorating the Home School Agreement,Our Home School Agreement - going live into a meaningful and attractive document. We invited parents to contribute their ideas, and incorporated these into the draft version. We are very pleased with the end result, and look forward to launching it to our parents in September.

 

We have also thought about transition, and how we can make this useful for the children and the teachers. We have decided to create postcards, written and illustrated by the pupils, with information for their new teacher. At the moment these are being done, and I trust that they will be of use as teachers have a new cohort of pupils.

 

And so where next? One challenge is to keep the Home School Agreement 'live'. In order to do this, we will have a monthly update in our newsletter. We are having some complex SEN children coming into school, so I want to ensure that these pupils have one page profiles, and special reviews so that we can really meet their needs. We need to continue to embed the work that we have done so far, and ensure that the children have an ongoing record of their profile.

 

One page profiles – getting better all the time

This time last year, we worked very hard to ensure that every single pupil at the school had a One Page Profile. We had a team of parental volunteers who worked alongside us, talking to the pupils and helping to type up all the responses.

one page profile for schoolsSince then, we have reflected on what worked, and what didn't work. We felt that although the one page profiles were effective, they were not as easy for people to use on a day to day basis. So this year we are going to create a postcard that the children can give to their new teacher. This postcard will be hand written rather than typed - so that the older pupils can write it themselves. The elements will remain the same; what we like and admire about the pupil, what is important to the pupil, and what they would like their new teacher to know about themselves. A copy of the postcard will be sent home with the child's report.

We have written to the parents asking for their input on the 'like and admire' section, and also on what they think the new teacher should know about the child. This letter gave very clear examples of the type of response - to clarify and specify, avoiding 'woolly' advice and guidance.

one page profile for schools 2Our Teaching Assistants have been briefed about the project, and indeed a parent has come up to ask if we are doing the profile again, and how can she help. The teachers are keen, as they can see the benefits of having information about the new children in their class. The Guide to One Page profiles in schools that we wrote last year to support the project will be used again, to focus questions and ensure that a true picture of each child is captured in a meaningful and useful manner. The more specific the responses, the better the quality of personalised attention we can give.

Our new Reception children will have their postcard completed in their initial 1:1 meeting that we are holding in July. Last year the teachers had a 30 minute meeting with new parents and their children in September. They completed their One Page Profile then. In retrospect, we realised that this was too late - this 1:1 meeting would be much better being held in July, before the children actually start school. So the teachers can start the new year with a clear picture of each child, and will have strategies to support a smooth introduction to school life.

We will also be completing a postcard for our year 6 children to send on to their Secondary school. Last year we had positive feedback from the profiles.

The postcards will be kept 'live' and teachers will be encouraged to revisit them as the term progresses, and write on them any changes that may become obvious. It will become a 'working document' that will inform teachers.

By reflecting on what worked and did not work about the way we are introducing and using one page profiles, we are able to get better and better at making them living documents that make a difference for all.

 

Our Home School Agreement – going live

The development of our new Home School Agreement is going well. As part of the process we consulted with pupils, parents and staff. We had some great feedback from parents:

 

'I think that it clearly defines everyone's role.'

'Overall, a good set of points which sum up curriculum, pastoral and social issues.'

'As this is not legally binding, how can it be enforced?'

'I particularly like the way it includes the children's agreement as well as parents, as I personally would read this to my children and explain what is expected of them.

 

The pupils were positive about it and staff felt that it reflected our ethos and aims. The agreement specifically mentions the school developing personalised information about each child (a one page profile) and reviewing progress (using working and not working).

 

So where now? We will produce a paper A5 size 'booklet' with changes as a result of the parental comments - the main change that we have made is moving the Golden Rules to the back page in a section of their own. This will be introduced to new parents in July and again in September. We also have had poster versions of the agreements and golden rules for each classroom, the offices and corridors, and a smaller laminated copy will be given out to each pupil to be kept in book bags. Sharing the information is the first step, and building long term strategies to keep it 'live' is vital.

 

Our Home School Agreement - going liveI produce a termly newsletter which will have a section devoted to the work on the Home School Agreement, and also the other work on Person Centred approaches within the school in the summer term edition. We will then have monthly updates, featuring one of the 'agreements', what this means in practice in the school, and giving a 'progress report' on how things are going. This will be in our regular weekly newsletter. We are building in a way to review how the Home School Agreement works in practice from the perspectives of the parents, pupils and staff each year, using the person centred thinking tool 'Working and Not working from different perspectives.'

 

I will keep you updated on how this goes. Please let me know if you have other ideas or experiences to share about how we can keep our Home School Agreement live.