Last night I found myself extolling the virtues of one page profiles to my twenty year old daughter Ollie.
Ollie’s doing an acting degree at university and she started telling me how she responds better to some tutors rather than others because of their teaching styles. She told me how one tutor made her feel and how it knocked her confidence and how another’s approach brought out the best in her. So I started telling her about the use of one page profiles to capture how individuals learn.
While she’s heard me banging on about person centred approaches for years, it’s always been something I’d used with her brother not her or her older sister. I now find myself referring to person centred thinking tools as the tools to use to find solutions in lots of things I do (I even plan my work projects using a PATH) It struck me that had these tutors known how she likes to be supported and what’s important to her and one page profiles were something that everyone has, some of the difficulties she’s faced would have been avoided.
I did this because on Monday I went to the launch of a new short film about one page profiles and how they are being used in a school in the North West (see film here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5ft4Hbyoes)
The film is totally inspiring, all makes perfect sense and I dearly hope all of schools embrace the idea. The mention on Twitter this week that Ofsted are looking at one page profiles is fantastic. I hope they do more than look and see this as a benchmark of good teaching. The ability to really get to know your students and understand how best they learn has to be a valued quality in people who teach our children. It could well be the “carrot” that finally encourages schools to use person centred thinking tools. I do hope so!
As with everything I do though I always come back to G.
Whilst I love the fact that one page profiles are being seen as something that is great for everyone, for G it’s not just a great thing to do to build confidence and make for better learning. It’s an essential part of really understanding how he needs to be supported (and he needs different ones for different situations) It is part of a whole range of person centred thinking tools that are a fundamental for helping people to understand him and how to support him properly. The consequences of him not having this and not being supported properly are far greater than for someone with other skills at their disposal…in particular the skill or ability to be able to voice how you feel.
Ollie has been able to work out for herself what works and doesn’t work for her and she has enough intelligence, self awareness and ability to analyse and talk through with others when things make her unhappy. G will never be able to do this and depends totally on others to interpret his actions, gestures and behaviours. Actions, gestures and behaviours that can so easily be misinterpreted and put down to his learning disabilities and not that he’s actually trying to tell us something. I have always believed that he understands far more than he’s been able to communicate back to us and others. And, person centred thinking tools have given us the key to unlock our understanding of what he’s communicating and I firmly believe his quality of life has been improved because of this.
Person centred approaches have been around for years and it’s so obvious to those of us who use them that it’s the only sensible way to work. And yet it still hasn’t really caught on as much as it should have, even in special education where it’s most needed.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that If a school in the North West can do this, with a whole school approach, what’s stopping special schools that have far smaller class sizes and far fewer children in their schools?
Maybe if this use of one page profiles catches on in education and everyone else is doing it, then special schools or those teaching children with special educational needs in mainstream schools will finally see their value.
Person centred thinking tools have given G a voice, isn’t it about time we gave this to ALL disabled children and adults like him?
Come on people, what’s stopping you? You know it makes sense!