Back to School

28 August 2015 | By Amanda George

It is that time of year when I am buying new uniforms and sorting the new stationary. I love autumn and the run up to Christmas but with it comes the thought of possible new teachers getting to know my boys.

My sons are teenagers now but I am also a step-mum and grandma and our littlest grandchild starts school next week.

She is a lovely little bundle of confidence and fun, articulate and energetic. She will be going to a small school with a one form entry. Her big brother is already there and she will be going with several friends from nursery. She has very firm views on what a good uniform looks like!

I asked her yesterday if she was excited and she said no, she wanted to stay at nursery. We reassured her about seeing her friends and how exciting it would be, we chatted for a bit and she happily carried on playing. This really made me think.

It made me think about how it must be waving a child off to a new school – or class even- when the child or young person isn’t able to tell us in words how they feel about going or able to explain- for whatever reason – how their day went. In these circumstances, families are I think often reliant on the quality of the information shared with the school from themselves at home and from other settings and professionals.

A lot of the work I do directly with children, young people and families is around this time, at the beginning or end of the school year. It is so important for any child or young person that school staff know them as individuals, whether they have any special educational or additional needs or not, and I have seen first- hand the difference that great quality person-centred information can make. When a child or young person isn’t able to tell us in words, it is really essential that we gather robust information about what is important to and for them and how best to support them. Hearing the great things that people like and love about them is such a powerful introduction too!

A few years ago I did a one-page profile with a Year 6 pupil who has a lot of physical health needs. He had great support in his primary school, having had the same Teaching Assistant since Year 3 who would not be joining him in secondary school. He had input from specialist teachers in supporting his move who had prepared really helpful assessments and recommendations.

His Mum was worried though about all of the little things about him not being shared and being lost. I spent time with his TA and learnt so much about those little things that make a huge difference to his day that wouldn’t always be picked up in an assessment. His support was so good, he couldn’t really tell me himself what his TA did to help him at school because it was so natural and familiar. I really believe that developing his one-page profile with him, his Mum and his primary school made a big difference in ensuring those little things were not lost and I know his Mum was relieved that they were recorded for his new school to read. I know lots of families who have had the same experience and have been able to relax a little more waving their son or daughter off.

More and more schools are seeing the value of developing one-page profiles with all pupils and this is brilliant to hear. We have to remember though, too, that back to school with a one-page profile may be a beginning but it isn’t an outcome – what we do with it is!

If you would like to hear more about how schools are using one-page profiles, please take a look at blogs by our partner schools:

http://www.personalisingeducation.org/category/blog/

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