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Andy Smith is Head of Middle School at Manchester Grammar School


The next stage for the One-Page Profile project was to continue the move from theory to reality with our pupils. We were still very uncertain about whether it was essential that the profiles were started after a very focused one to one discussion with tutors (which threatened to be unmanageably time consuming) or whether form tutors could act as group leaders guiding the form through the process, providing them with their own profiles as exemplar material and leading them in activities. At the time this decision seemed intractable as the second option had the potential to descend into a rather mechanistic paper driven process. The actuality of the way things worked out was illuminating and definitely gave us confidence about how to move forward. Many of our form tutors simply pressed ahead with the ‘appreciations’ and ‘good day –bad day’ exercises as whole form activities. Appreciations were done slightly differently from the standard model in that boys were asked to write down what three positive comments friends would say about them if they were being honest. This seemed to circumvent the difficult problem of persuading adolescent males to be nice about each other in public. It also provided us with quite a subtle vehicle for our pupils to reflect in a positive way on their qualities. This proved to be very successful. The ‘good day –bad day’ exercise had also worked well when done as a group. The Tutor talked the form through their own good day – bad day before getting the boys to work in pairs on the activity. Each boy questioned the other about what they were writing down, forcing them to be more specific about what they thought was significant. These activities then developed into each boy beginning their own one page profile.

The first thing that struck us when looking at the first drafts of the One Page Profiles was the way that a significant number of pupils had really engaged with the idea and invested a great deal of thought and energy into developing their profiles. Clearly being asked to reflect on what was important to them was a relatively novel experience and allowed for an interesting creative outlet. Another interesting aspect was that we started to find out things about our pupils that had never been revealed or discussed before. I certainly was surprised when looking at a doodle of a fish one pupil had drawn on his profile to learn that he had a great interest in ocean wildlife (his ambition was to become a marine biologist). Another feature that was perhaps less surprising was the tendency of our pupils to try and ‘customize’ their profiles, especially the photograph at the top of the page. Many of the profiles ended up with strange avatars or very funny photo-shopped images instead of their own pictures. As most of these images seemed to be quite creatively and cleverly linked with the profile we decided to let this continue. All in the name of personalisation!

During the third full week of term we hold a Year 9 Form Tutor Evening. This is an opportunity for parents to meet their son’s new Form Tutor and listen to a presentation which helps them understand the nature of Middle School at MGS. During the presentation I discussed the pilot project and tried to explain the underlying philosophy of One Page Profiles and how we hoped to evolve the concept. I also suggested that we were keen to develop opportunities for a parental contribution for their son’s profile. We also created a One Page Profile display in the refectory which we hoped would be informative and interesting for parents to read while they were waiting to meet their son’s Form Tutor. I was quite pleased to note that there was quite a degree of interest in the project and I received some encouraging emails the next day form enthusiastic parents.