Creating the perfect section A

19 February 2015

By Gill Goodwin

Whilst all local authorities need to update Statements of Educational Need to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, EHC plan templates can differ from region to region. However, they all include a section A, which essentially is the ‘all about me’ section for the child or young person. So, how can using person-centred practices help make an individual’s section A truly reflective?

I have been supporting people to develop person-centred plans or descriptions now for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles. I have had a whole range of other formats and documentation to fill in during those years and I can think of very few – if any- occasions when I haven’t started this by exploring with people and those close to them what is important to and for them and how best to support them. For me, this is where person-centred practices and specifically one-page profiles are our map.

One-page profiles are a way of recording what others appreciate about a person, what is important to that person and how best to support them. We collect and record this information by talking and listening carefully to the individual whose one-page profile we are developing. For people who do not use words to communicate, we can still develop one-page profiles but may need to rely on other communication methods and family help. We have a current video that explores how we can do this effectively, watch it here.

Currently, I am delivering training within local areas introducing person-centred practices and how they support the development of a perfect Section A. On the one-day training, participants develop their own one-page Profile – in my experience, the best way to learn about this approach is to try it out in relation to your own life. At the end of the session, we walk through the area’s Section A template and map other person-centred thinking tools to every sub-heading. What we find is that no matter how much a template differs from area to area, a good one-page profile helps to inform most of the sub-headings.

In one particular session, I supported families to develop EHC Plans that include one-page profiles as well as further headings about specific areas in the young person’s life. I supported the families by collecting all of the information as I would for a one-page profile and then later recorded it under the themes requested. I think this works really well!

I believe that approaching EHC Plans in this way does more than give us good quality information to fill in Section A. It gives us a way of gathering information that can be then used in school or other settings so that everyone has a common understanding of what is important to the person and how best to support them – it can then in turn be used to help review the support that a child or young person is receiving on a day to day basis. It can be developed and changed as needed to make sure that it is not something done once and then put away but a living document.

Whenever I am training in person-centred practices I remind people that a plan is not an outcome. In this situation a great Section A does of course need to be an outcome but it doesn’t need to be the only outcome. Done well, it can also have a positive impact on the child or young person’s day to day support. Perhaps that’s what makes a perfect Section A.


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