When it comes to good outcomes, preparation is what you need

10 August 2015 | By Amanda George

Developing good outcomes is the ultimate goal of person-centred reviews. But how do we make sure that the review process is successful enough to create these good outcomes?

Ben says it's all about the preparation...

During the last couple of months of the summer term I have been spending some time with secondary school special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) supporting them to develop their approaches to delivering person centred Education, Health and Care Plan transfer reviews.

Through the discussions I have had with SENCOs it is clear that schools are working hard to arrange reviews by trying to get the right people to attend and then during the review asking the right questions to develop good outcomes from the information discussed. These are all important areas to get right but, for me, the key to any review being successful is supporting the child or young person and their family to prepare for their review well.

Without understanding what aspirations a child or young person has and what is important to them now and in the future, we will not know if the plan is going in the right direction and we will not be able to develop person-centred outcomes that will make a difference to their life.

Unless we support children and young people to prepare for their review, we can‘t then expect them to give us information about how they feel about their life and their future. If we don’t get the preparation stage right we are at risk of reviews taking place for the benefit of services and not for children and young people.

Enabling a child or young person to be heard and to be at the centre of their review is the key to developing outcomes that can make a difference to their lives, not only in school but at home, in the community and into their adult life.

At the end of the school term I was asked to facilitate a person-centred school review at a secondary school for Liam who is a year 9 pupil aged 14.

The school had worked with Liam to prepare his thoughts for the review but what was clear when we started was that although Liam had been supported to think about information such as his likes and dislikes, about his favourite lessons and his hobbies, he had a lot more to say about what was important to him, what he felt his strengths and qualities were and how to support him best.

I knew that this information was vital to understand if we were going to be able to develop person- centred outcomes that reflected Liam’s aspirations for the future, what really mattered to Liam in his life and what those who knew and worked with Liam needed to do to support him to reach his potential.

prepare

Because this information was so important and would guide the direction of travel for Liam’s plan, we spent the first half of the review focused on collecting this information before moving on.

This meant that the review was a lot longer than we had planned for. To their credit, although the SENCO and LSA involved were due to be elsewhere in the school, they fully understood the importance of Liam having his say and lesson cover was arranged so Liam’s review could continue.

Although the review had taken a long time, Liam and all who attended felt it was successful.

Liam felt that he had been listened to and that what he had said was reflected in the outcomes that were developed as part of his plan.

Following the review, I spoke with the SENCO involved and we discussed why we felt the review had taken so long. We felt that the preparation work required to support Liam to take part in his review could have taken place in a different way. We started to think about how this could be done during the school year in preparation for Liam’s review taking place.

I spoke about one-page profiles and how effective they could be to gather the important information needed to help a child or young person prepare for their review. A well-developed one- page profile can ensure that outcomes are grown from rich person-centred information.

The SENCO was impressed and asked if I could speak with the team of learning support assistants at the school. I subsequently facilitated a session with the group where I introduced my own one-page profile and talked through each section, what people felt were my strength’s and qualities, what really mattered to me in my life and how to support me to be at my best.

As part of the session I showed a film from the Personalising Education website which gives examples of how one-page profiles have been introduced in both primary and secondary schools. The one-page profile video offers perspectives from people at all levels from the child and young person, their parents, teachers and head teachers. It really is a fantastic introduction to the benefits of using one-page profiles in schools and the difference that they can make.

Following the session I received an email from the SENCO who said she had been so impressed by the one-page profile tool that she had spoken to the head of the school and they were keen to introduce the tool throughout the school for all pupils!

I am looking forward to speaking to the senior leadership team at the school in September about next steps and excited about what could happen next!

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