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Andy Smith reviews a year of One Page Profiles at Manchester Grammar School



Before the chaos of a new school year descends I thought it might be useful to reflect on the relative success and failures of the One Page Profile pilot project at MGS by using the 4+1 questions template.

What have we tried?

  • We have introduced One Page Profiles in the Middle School at MGS as a pilot project with years 9 &10. We hoped to develop a vehicle for allowing pupils opportunities for self- reflection and means by which we might empower them to make proactive and well informed decisions about their education and ultimately their future.
  • We have  used the processes involved in the completion of One Page Profiles as a medium through which Form Tutors can gain a deeper understanding of what is important to the pupils they are mentoring and how best to support them.  We  have devised and used a number of additional templates closely linked to the One Page Profiles that allow us to encourage our pupils to consider their aspirations, personal qualities, achievements and experiences and  become more intimately involved in reviewing their progress and creating an action plan for the future.
  • We also attempted to develop an overarching One Page Profile ‘landscape’ for the academic year which attempted to use the One Page Profile’s creatively  to help pupils absorb feedback more effectively, inform  decision making  and add another dimension to the tutor’s dialogue with parents on Form Tutors’ day.

What have we learned?

The three lessons that stand out from this year are;

  • Good quality One Page Profiles take a surprisingly long time to produce. The process is time consuming and if it is rushed it can turn into a relatively ‘empty’ paper exercise.
  • It is always helpful to give people a model of good practice.  Good examples of  finished One Page Profile’s helped our pupils engage with the process, helped them move beyond producing superficial platitudes  and to visualise what their distinctive ‘One Page Profile’ could look like.
  • Trying to produce large numbers of One Page Profiles for a deadline creates a tension between the principles of personalisation and the disciplined ‘machine- like’ efficiency needed to get the job done.
  • It is important to be flexible enough to allow your plans to evolve and transform.  There were several occasions this year where we rethought our original plan so we could absorb creative suggestions and changes of emphasis. This type of reworking was tremendously helpful although it is important not to become completely distracted by superficially attractive ideas and lose sight of ‘first principles’.

What has gone well?

  • We have completed a pilot project with four hundred Middle School pupils all of whom have produced a One Page Profile and uploaded this on to a designated space on the school intranet. The majority of the pupils have engaged well with this activity and a significant number have produced exceptionally good One Page Profiles.
  • We have developed and reworked additional resources that complement the One Page Profiles and have used these successfully in form tutor sessions.
  • We have integrated One Page Profiles into the format for the MGS ‘Form Tutor Day’. This is an occasion for parents to meet with their son’s Form Tutor and discuss their overall progress.  This year we attempted to use the One Page Profile as the focal point for that discussion and we sent some explanatory material and draft (anonymised) examples to parents beforehand to help familiarise them with our aim and objectives for the project.
  • We have had a first attempt at using the ‘Working Together for Change’ methodology at MGS. This promises to be an extremely powerful diagnostic tool which will effectively utilise input from staff and, most importantly, pupils to help improve their experience of education at MGS.
  • We have created a dedicated explanatory handbook on the use of One Page Profiles at MGS outlining our philosophy, giving detailed instruction and setting out a set of deadlines for the year.
  • We have also created an online web portal so that, in principle, every One Page Profile can be a ‘live’ document that develops in sophistication as it travel with a pupils throughout his time at the school. We eventually see the One Page Profile making a major contribution to our pupils Sixth Form application and their UCAS personal statement.

What are we concerned about?

  • How do we introduce One Page Profiles for 1500 pupils without the whole process degenerating into a trivial, mechanical ‘paper driven’ exercise that loses touch with our original intentions?
  • How we create more ‘one to one’ time for Form Tutors to work with their tutees in developing their profiles.
  • How do we maintain the consistency and high standards when there are differing levels of ‘buy in’ from both pupils and Form Tutors?
  • How do we match up our desire to support pupils with our desire to make them more self- reliant and resilient?

What do we need to do next?

We need to plan how we are going to begin introducing One Page Profiles elsewhere in the school. Another pilot project in the Junior School seems an obvious starting point for me. The question will then become a bigger one of how this evolves and then links up with what we are doing in Middle School. Our next big question is how One Page Profiles might fit into any changes to the Form Tutoring system at MGS.