Monthly Archives:

One-page profiles across the borough

I have been asked to work with Stockport LA on a very important and influential project, bringing One-Page Profiles to the whole of the borough.

Head Teachers have received a letter inviting them to a fact finding meeting at the start of March. At this meeting, we will present an overview of what One-Page profiles are, both for mainstream and SEN pupils. We will talk about the impact that having profiles throughout a school can have - on teachers, pupils, parents, governors and outside agencies. We are then offering a training package for schools who want to take part in the project.

Once we have secured enthusiastic schools, we will run training sessions for the leadership team and the SENCo, to ensure that processes and practices are done correctly.

The Local Authority is also determined to replace the standard (dry) Statement paperwork, with One-Page Profiles. This is a bold and brave move, and we are ahead of the times - the changes to SEN come into play in 2014. But the proposal is to build the One-Page Profile into the SEN system, so that it becomes a necessary and integral part of the whole process. The key personnel within the Authority have been working with me to make this become a reality. I am working with the Assessment and Review Officer next week, to design new paperwork that will replace the existing Statement paperwork.

The plan is to run trials, with new style paperwork being submitted by some schools, with other schools continuing to submit 'traditional' paperwork. This way we have a control group, and the SEN team and panel can clearly compare and contrast both systems. Having a trial period will ensure that any initial 'hiccups' in working with new paperwork are ironed out, and it will ensure absolute rigour and robustness in the system.

Whole Class One-Page Profile

The new year brings new projects; always exciting.

 

I have worked with Gill from HSA on developing a whole class One-Page Profile. I decided to take this focus, to see how we can expand the advantages of an individual One-Page Profile, to benefit the whole class. The session went really well, with learning points along the way. Having reflected on the afternoon, I feel confident that the process can be rolled out across the school next half term.

The three headings of the profile (Appreciations/Important to/Ways to support) informed the structure of the afternoon.

Jan 13-1The session started with the children looking through their One-Page Profiles, and choosing the two appreciations that they like the most. These were written on pieces of paper, and each child read them out before putting them on display.

Reflection: This worked very well. The children like to revisit their One-Page Profiles, and having to publicly acknowledge appreciations visibly boosts self esteem. We did have some children saying that they sound 'big headed' but it is important for children to feel comfortable giving as well as receiving compliments.

Once the board was filled with individual appreciations, we went on to discuss what - having read the individual appreciations - would be classed as wide appreciations. We talked about the key words that would be used to describe the class if a new pupil was joining us. We did this by categorising and sorting. So for example, lots of children had put that they were good friends. This was then translated to 'In this class we are friendly.' Many children had an appreciation linked to sport, which translated into 'We are sporty'. Many children had an appreciation linked to their ability to work hard. This became the whole class appreciation 'We work hard; we like to get our brains buzzerling, (buzzerling is a word invented by one of the pupils, to show how we want our brains to feel after a work session).

Reflection: It was actually very easy to pull out around 10 whole class appreciations, building these phrases on the individual appreciations.

Jan 13-2In order to collect meaningful whole class 'Important To' we moved the session on to talk about what were the elements of a really great day at school (The 'Good Day' exercise). Gill collected the children's comments whilst I wrote them up. The children were very insightful in analysing essential elements of a good school day. Some of the issues raised were: When we get rewards, when everyone is friendly at playtime, when we have outside visitors, when we can choose the group that we work in.

Reflection: If we were to do this again, I would direct the children a little more, to focus on the specifics of a school day. For example I would say: 'what behaviours must we see for a successful lesson /a successful lunchtime /a successful afternoon etc. This will focus the children more, and encourage more self reflection. We deliberately didn't do the 'Bad Day' exercise as there was the possibility that individual children's behaviours might be highlighted as a negative influence. It was useful having two of us at this point - one to collect the ideas and interact with the children, and one to write up their comments.

From this, we then gave the children three stickers, and they were asked to put their stickers on the statements that they felt had the highest priority, had the greatest importance. We then asked them to write onto their own One-Page Profiles, the statements that were the most important to them.

The children loved this aspect. Next time, I think that we would have a better spread of stickers if the statements were more focused on the specifics of aspects of a Good Day. The children enjoyed being able to add to their own 'important to' section.

When doing this exercise again, I would stop at this point. The children were 'buzzerling' and had achieved a great deal, but needed a break.

Jan 13-3Jan 13-4From the 'Important To' work we were able to pull out ways to support the class. This session would have been more effective if it had been done on a different day; our class were tired at this point. However, we managed to pull key messages out: 'We like to be rewarded when we work hard, when we achieve well and when we are kind and friendly. So please give us team points and pieces of our jigsaw'. Another one went like this: 'We all want to get on together and be friendly.'

This was the hardest part of the session, to make meaningful links between the 'Important To' and the 'How to support' section. This is why I feel it needs to be done in a different session to the other sections. Teachers will need to think about how effective support is pulled out of the previous sessions.

We hope to have the whole class One-Page Profile to share with you soon.

Ofsted and One-Page Profiles

This week has been an interesting week! It started on Monday, when Charlie Henry - the chief HMI for SEND - came to school to talk to us about one-page profiles. I had shared our work with our new advisor a few weeks earlier, and he was so taken with the power and simplicity of the one-page profile that he wanted me to talk to the chief HMI. This meeting went well, and he had his inspector hat on throughout the meeting, asking us searching questions about measuring impact and validating our findings.

I was then asked to talk at a conference the following day. This was a conference on SEND and the OFSTED framework, given by Charlie Henry. The room was packed with primary and secondary Special Needs Coordinators, Head teachers and most of the Stockport advisors. Charlie Henry gave us lots of food for thought, and on several occasions referred to the one-page profiles as fitting elements of the framework perfectly.

So I had to follow this top act! Although I thought that I would be nervous, once I stood up and stared to talk, it all came very naturally. I think because I know the one-page profile process so well, and because I know the impact so clearly, I was able to talk without referring to my notes. I was focusing on the 'what's in it for me' element, to try to emphasis the impact that one-page profiles can have within a school. We then showed the film, which held the room in focused silence.

Afterwards, I had many people come up expressing an interest. The local authority wants to create a working party to develop one-page profiles. Our challenge now is to move the enthusiasm felt within the room at the time, to action after the event. I have found that people say positive things during conferences, and then fail to follow this up. This is frustrating. But hopefully, with the advisors on board they can help push this through.

Referring back to last month's blog on teacher one-page profiles, ours are developing really well, with people very keen to share them. My Head teacher has had the lovely idea that when he is given one, he will give his back; a swopping of presents! I will do the same. I know we have all enjoyed the process of creating our one-page profiles, and sharing them will be another way to develop team cohesion.

One-Page Profiles for Staff

Nov 12We have just had a really powerful INSET day, run by Gill from HSA. As we have One-Page Profiles for all of our pupils, we wanted to build on this process and develop them for our staff.

This would fit well with our new approach to Performance Review, as I wrote about last month. Although we do have an amazing team, with a very high level of trust and respect, we felt that working through the process of creating a One-Page Profile would cement even further our positive approach to team work. And from the point of view as school leader, it is essential to really know your staff, to know what makes them 'tick' in order to support them. By providing the right support, our staff can then be the very best teachers they possibly can be.

We started the day with an appreciation exercise. This involved us going around writing positive comments about each other. Although there was a self conscious reluctance initially, the level and quality of positive affirmation was fantastic. Staff really got into the spirit of the exercise, and our sheets were filled with very heart warming statements. It goes to show how unused we are to receiving praise!

The next activity was introduced to us: Good Day/Bad Day. Gill encouraged us to think about all of the aspects that make a really great day - a day that we go home from with a smile on our faces, a day that leaves us buzzing. We were also to think of the flip side, to think about what aspects make our day a bad day. A period of intense focus and detailed discussion took place. We then held a 'market stall' approach whereby we read each others. It was lovely to see the positives, and also to pick up common themes of the 'bad day' section. As school leaders it is so important to know what additional pressures we may put on our staff unwittingly.

Gill then 'interviewed' me, teasing out from my Good Day/Bad Day what was important to me. Then from this, we worked out the best ways to support me. This modelling of questions was concentrated, all eyes on me; to such an extent that at one point I became too emotional to talk! How embarrassing! (but emotional in a very good and positive way).

After a well deserved coffee break, we paired up and worked on each other's 'Important to' and 'How to support' sections. The detailed level of conversations once again made me so very proud of our team. The level of insight into how we all work opened all our eyes to the needs of our colleagues in such a positive way. Once again, we then shared this work.

Within the space of a few hours, we have the start of our own One-Page Profile. We have the 'Like and Admire' section, and we have more than the start of 'Important to me' and 'How best to support me'. We will dedicate the next staff meeting to fine-tuning these. Trust, respect, honesty was shown in bucket loads by everyone. What more can I say; a really amazing morning.

Being in control of our day

This month I want to write about a very powerful tool in my leadership armoury!

Helen Sanderson has introduced me to the Good Day/Bad Day exercise, which is just amazing.

Initially, I went through my own Good Day, analysing minute by minute all the aspects that make up a really brilliant day. This became a very liberating activity, and I enjoyed thinking about the aspects of my day that makes my job so very special. I then focused on the 'flip side' , to analyse the events that switch my day from 'good' to 'bad'. This too became a cathartic exercise, as I was able to write freely about the frustrations that can come my way.

Having gone through the process, it becomes clear how we can actually be in control of much of our day, that we can decide how events affect us and therefore how this impacts on our day.

I wanted to run this activity with our Midday Assistants, at my half termly meeting. I felt that going through a 'Good Lunch Time' with the team would give them the opportunity to think about what they do that impacts on their time at school. The activity encouraged a lot of positive discussion, problem solving, and provided a forum to show that they are in control of much of what happens. It also gave an opportunity for the team to discuss effective ways of working. They left the meeting feeling good about their job, having a laugh about things that 'flip' it from a good session to a bad session, and also seeing themselves as a team. I then typed up their 'Good Day' into a flow chart, which has become their guide, their 'must do' check list. I appreciate that it is aspirational, but we may as well aim high!

I then had a member of staff come to me feeling anxious about her job, and how she was beginning to feel unable to cope. I worked through a 'Good Day' with her, starting right at the beginning of the day through each successive session. By focusing on the fantastic elements we were able to rationalise her anxieties, to show how she was in control of much of her day. Once again it became clear how this activity empowers people, and makes them appreciate the many elements that make their job so enjoyable.

I will certainly employ this exercise again, and as a school leader I can see how relevant and effective it can be to help staff become the very best that they can possibly be.

Person-Centred Practice and Performance Review

Our new school year is now well underway, and I am working on a very exciting project bringing One Page Profiles to life for all of our staff. Our teachers are very familiar with profiles for the children, and these are now a well established part of our school. I wanted to bring more relevance to staff one page profiles, and realised that this would fit very well with the new process of performance review that I am introducing to school this term.

 

Why a new approach to Performance Review?

  • Schools need to work as a team to get all their teachers to be the very best that they can possibly be.
  • One of the key features which distinguish being a professional from other forms of employment is that professionals take responsibility for their own on-going professional development.
  • Through a structured performance review process effective professional development and learning will emerge.

Sept 12 -1

  • Self reflection is essential for professional development, and here at Norris Bank we want to create a culture whereby there is 'mutual accountability' - where all staff know for themselves where their strengths lie, and what areas need developing. Our staff will take responsibility for their own professional development with the support of their colleagues, through skilful dialogue, observations, monitoring and feedback.
  • It is not a system that is 'top down'. The Leadership Team needs to facilitate opportunities for colleagues to work together to develop classroom practice. Time needs to be given on a regular basis so that teachers can

a) talk about their classroom practice

b) talk about the aspects of classroom practice they are confident in, and those areas which need development

c) observe each other

d) share work in books

e) discuss these observations

f) reflect.

  • Pairs of teachers will then meet with the Leadership team at the end of the academic year to talk about their journey of professional development throughout the year.

 

What will this process look like in practice?

Sept 12 -2


How will we do this?

We are so lucky to be working with HSA who will facilitate the initial conversations amongst staff relating to the Good Day/Bad Day exercise. From this, we will develop our detailed One Page Profiles, and have a very clear understanding of our staff, and how to support them to be the very best teachers that they can be. We are having this training in November; there is an extra INSET day for us as our school is used as a polling station for the election of the Police Comissioner.

We have then dedicated staff meeting time to build on the performance review process, more of which next month!

Also, six members of staff have bought train tickets down to London in October, to be guests at the House of Commons to celebrate the film made in May, representing the work we have done on One Page Profiles. This is a very special event to look forward to.

Keeping pupils at the centre

As the year draws to a close, we are being as busy as usual.

Our new One Page Profiles are being created, ready to hand on to the new teacher. This year, we have run an excellent system, whereby parents and children are writing directly onto the postcards, and then these are being returned to school for the teachers and teaching assistants to add to them. It is lovely seeing a variety of handwriting on the postcard profiles, and also to see the quality of comments being written - very insightful from parents and children. These new profiles will be handed to the new teacher by the children next week, when we have our 'meet your new teacher' afternoon. The profile postcards that have been worked on this year have been put in with the reports to be sent home.

Our Year Five Transition review meetings have just been held, with our Educational Psychologist and the secondary school meeting with teachers and parents to see what needs to be put in place for successful transition to High School. We talked a lot about the role of One Page Profiles, and will even create a credit card size version for children to have in their pockets, ready to show new teachers in a discrete but effective way.

I have also led an effective and powerful Team Around the Child Meeting for one of our pupils who has epilepsy and autism. We started be celebrating all the things we love about the little boy, and wrote these around a photograph of him. This set the meeting off in such a strong way, and ensured that he was at the very centre of everything we were talking about. We kept this piece of paper in front of us, and I kept referring back to these comments throughout the meeting. I then moved the meeting on to look at the successes of the year, from the point of view of school, support agencies and parents. Once again, this kept our pupil at the centre of discussions. Because these two activities had set such a positive tone, and a level of trust had been established, we were able to move on to the questions/ queries/ not working section with a refreshing level of honesty. As this area developed, we kept referring back to all of the positives, but it also provided a very clear message that everyone had the same anxieties; we realised that no-one was isolated, and that by working together we could solve issues and concerns. We ended the meeting by going back to the initial sheet on all the things we love about him. The atmosphere during and after the meeting, was calm and positive despite difficult and emotive issues being discussed.  This approach was amazing, powerful and effective.

Moving forward with one-page profiles

The school term is rapidly drawing to a close. We seem forever racing along!

Last week we had our Inclusion Quality Mark reaccreditation. We were awarded this quality mark three years ago. I had to put together a huge file with plenty of evidence supporting ten different areas, ranging from teaching and learning, leadership and management, the resources available to pupils and the wider school community. We had a formal assessment when the lead SEN advisor from the authority came and went through the evidence with a fine toothcomb.

The reaccreditation process was less intense, but I still wanted to celebrate the many aspects of inclusion that run through everything we do here at school. The advisor coming in had said that all she wanted was a conversation - I gave her an exhibition! I presented a range of table top resources to show and talk about, as well as displays around the room. We started off the session with a slideshow of photographs of our pupils taking part in the wide range of activities that happen here at Norris Bank. She was impressed!

A major focus was our one-page profiles work. She was really interested to see how it had developed since the original quality mark was awarded, and asked many questions about how it has been built into our school year. She loved the postcard approach, appreciating how children would enjoy being involved in creating and updating the profiles. She has asked me to talk to all the other SENCos in the authority at their termly meeting; of course I have agreed!

We have also started the process of gathering information for the new one-page profiles, ready for transition to new teachers in September. New children entering our Reception class have had the profile sent home, in readiness for their 1:1 meeting with the teachers in July. Our existing pupils have taken a one-page profile postcard home to start the process of collecting information. This will then be further worked on by teachers who will add their comments to the 'great things' section and the 'top tips' section.

I sent home an explanatory letter to parents, so that there are clear guidelines as to the type of information that would be relevant. A copy is as follows:

 

Dear Parents and Carers,

As you will know, we complete One Page Profiles for all our pupils. These are edited and updated throughout the year. As we are now approaching the end of this academic year, we are ready to create profiles ready to hand onto the new teachers. In the past we have asked you to complete a 'stars' sheet, which you returned to school. We are going to try a new, more efficient system this year.

Every pupil in the school will be bringing home a brand new postcard. As homework, we need your child to

  • Draw a picture of themselves, or stick a photograph of themselves into the relevant space. They can decorate the border as well.
  • Write (or you write for them) all the things that are IMPORTANT to them at this moment in time. This may include their favourite toy, their favourite activity, their favourite book, special people, special places, special pets.
  • This section is important to us as it gives us a picture of the 'whole child' and provides us with a great way of knowing each and every one of our pupils.
  • Write (or you write for them) TWO or THREE things that they are proud of about themselves. This may include things such as: I look after my pets really carefully. I am really good at making lego models. I am a brilliant reader.
  • Then YOU AS PARENT/CARER write TWO or THREE things that you are really proud about your child. This may be things such as: They never give up, even when faced with challenges. They make people smile. They are brilliant at understanding other's feelings. They are lovely with their elderly grandparents. They brighten my day.
  • This section provides you with a wonderful opportunity to share with your child and with us at school all those magical aspects of your child and their development. This is so important for us to be aware of, and to appreciate. Space must be left for school to add to this section as well!
  • On the REVERSE of the card, please can your child write (or you write for them) TWO top tips that they really want their new teacher to know about them, to help their learning. This might be: 'I don't like putting my hand up in case I am wrong'. Or 'I love being asked questions in class'. Or 'I need to be kept on task as I tend to daydream'. Or 'I tend to chat so need to be kept quiet!'
  • Then you write TWO top tips that you think are important for the new teacher to know about your child.
  • This section is so important for the new teacher to have a clear picture of how to help your child and their learning. Space must be left in this section as well for the present teacher to add their 'top tips'.

Please return the card to school as soon as possible, for the teachers to continue working on and developing the new profile ready for the next teacher. This is important! Thank you.

 

I will write in the July blog about how successful this approach has been.

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

We have had a really exciting two days! Shoot Productions, a Bradford based film company, worked alongside the staff and children here at Norris Bank to create footage for a film on One Page Profiles.

May 1

Helen and I had put together a schedule of filming, to reflect our journey of introducing One Page Profiles throughout the school, and also to give staff and children the opportunity to talk about the impact One Page Profiles have.

Initially, I was really worried that the schedule would not work - this was all very new to me and I had no idea whether the package I had put together would work out! However, the two days worked brilliantly, with many different aspects being covered. Our brilliant staff rose to the challenge of being filmed; some had no option but to be filmed, whilst others volunteered. May 2Our Reception teachers talked about the value of One Page Profiles on transition from Nursery, our PHSE coordinator talked about fitting the profiles into the PHSE/SEAL curriculum, and our Year 5/6 teacher talked about how she enjoys working on the profiles with her class. I held a staged staff meeting with a range of other teachers and teaching assistants, and our office administrator was filmed putting the profiles into the reports. Our Head teacher talked about how it has changed the school, and our pupils were brilliant in re-enacting sessions and talking on a personal level about their profiles. (The girls loved the thought of being filmed, and there was a lot of hair styling going on!) We also had a really important person who arrived at school to be filmed - none other than Andrew Webb, who is the Director of Children and Young People's Services, Stockport Council. This was a brilliant opportunity to talk about the personalisation agenda and how it can work in schools.

May 3Working with a film crew is an exciting opportunity, albeit the lights are VERY hot, and the aeroplanes taking off and coming into land at Manchester Airport proved problematic at times. The sound man (Adam) and camera operator (Emma) were really expert in capturing the essence of what was being said, and Sarah (producer/director) put us all at ease and coped with our mumbled lines and fits of giggles. We all had to learn where to look, and we picked up some of the tricks of the trade; 'noddings' and 'punch ins' were new words to us.

We look forward to seeing the end product, and hope that it captures not just the real essence of One Page Profiles, but also that it captures the spirit of Norris Bank.

Spreading the word about one page profiles

I have been very busy recently preparing for visitors. Yesterday we welcomed to Norris Bank the Head and Deputy from a school in York. This was an honour and a privilege, to feel that another school was really interested in what we have been doing with our One Page Profiles. I explained the journey that we have been on (encouraging them to read this blog which has reflected that journey from the very beginning!) and how we are proud of where we are now. I hope that this school takes on the principles and processes in order to really get to know their pupils and make learning even more meaningful.

I spoke about the power - and I do see it as the power - of really knowing your pupils; in terms of knowing what makes them 'tick' but also knowing how they want adults to get the best out of them. The whole process of information gathering is extremely valuable, and can so easily be added to as the academic year passes.

Just before the Easter holiday we held a fantastic Celebration of Talent. This was the idea of the School Council, and after weeks of auditions, we had a presentation of skills that blew us all away. You may be asking what is the relevance of this to One Page Profiles....Well we have noticed, now we know children have a passion and talent in certain areas, when we pass them in the corridor we can engage in meaningful conversations which really lights up their faces. They know we are genuinely interested in them. The One Page Profile provides the same vehicle for really knowing your pupils, and records this information about their talents.

In preparation for the filming in May, I have also been finding out which children want to be involved - as you can imagine, there was unbelievable enthusiasm and a lot of excited squeals. I am choosing the children that are now in our Year 6 class, who can clearly remember the very first One Page Profiles that we did way back in 2008, when they were in Year 3. They loved seeing their previous profiles, to see how they have changed and how some characteristics remain the same.

The filming will take place in May and will be launched in September.