How Essex County Council are using one-page profiles to help implement SEND reforms

25 February 2015 | By Helen Sanderson

My guest blogger is Chris Perkins, Service Manager, Specialist Teaching and Preschool Service, Essex County Council.

As the biggest reforms in 30 years begin to take effect for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), local authority teams have started the new school year with a sense of anticipation and excitement.  For the various SEND teams, the past 12 months have been dominated by fast and furious activity focused on preparations to implement the new SEND Code of Practice for children/young people from 0 to 25 years.

The reforms are underpinned by a principled approach that require the local authority to support and involve children and young people in decision making to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes. The reforms bring the personalisation agenda firmly into the education arena, alongside the health and social care services. Personalisation acknowledges that children, families and young people are experts in their own lives, and that, if we are to deliver support in the context of how people want to live their life, then we must know and pay attention to what matters to them.

Over the past year, one SEND reform work stream has focused on promoting a person-centred approach across the range of service providers through the One Plan Project.  A key feature of this approach is the identification of an agreed set of outcomes, developed from the aspirations of the child, family or young person, which inform the actions of the entire support network.

The experience of the One Plan project quickly led us to recognise that services providing support need to change themselves if they are to bring about the changes that people want in their lives.  So, starting with our own teams, we have been driving a culture shift over the past year in order to establish a person centred approach as ‘the way we do things here’.

One of the first steps in understanding the strengths and qualities of individuals, what is important to them, and how they are best supported, is through the development of a One Page Profile.  Initially, we invited staff to tell colleagues what they liked and admired about them – this in itself was quite revelatory, with many staff surprised and even uncomfortable when presented with praise.  For myself, I must confess that I was somewhat disconcerted to hear that my ‘sense of humour’ was generally considered to be my most admirable quality … I have since resigned myself to this, continuing to demonstrate my preferred, but lesser cited, qualities in the most amusing and cheerful manner!

We subsequently invited staff to share their One Page Profiles with colleagues, and it was indeed a very uplifting and enlightening experience to read some of the 187 profiles on display at our recent service day.  Some staff, in acknowledgement of their specialist role, created their own profiles using alternative means of communication – symbols, Braille, and recordable devices – demonstrating potential use of the profile as a way of introducing themselves to children and young people with SEND.

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We are now in the process of building a staff directory of profiles in the belief that this will help managers to focus and build on individuals’ strengths in the supervision process, and support staff to work together more effectively. During recent recruitment, we asked candidates to develop a One Page Profile as part of the interview process, and successful candidates have been invited to share these as their initial introduction to the team.

Joanna Killian, Chief Executive of Essex County Council recently gave a top tip for building a productive working relationship between officers and leaders … she said “find out how they work best and work out how you can support that.”   Developing and using the One Page Profile has become an effective way for us to achieve exactly that for all of our staff, and our aspiration is that this technique will become ‘the way we do things here’ for all professionals working with children and young people with SEND in the spirit of the reforms.

 

For more information on the One Plan Project or One Page Profiles, contact The One Plan Project Team at Essex County Council.

 

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