The start of a journey
Over the years we have thought a lot about how we can genuinely treat every child in our nursery school as an individual and use their individual starting points and interests to support their learning and development. We have introduced a system of planning based on ‘focused children’ rather than focused activities (Epgrave: 2013) but had been left with a question about the paperwork we pass on to schools when children leave nursery to start reception. As we plan for each child individually the traditional approach of individual education plans has not seemed to fit with our planning and last summer we found ourselves, once again, contemplating what information we needed to provide for reception teachers. We had several conversations with other professionals and our attention was drawn to One Page Profiles as a means of gathering and sharing information. An Internet search led us to further information including the Helen Sanderson Associates webpage and we decided to write profiles for a group of children who were moving to reception at the end of the year. We adapted a letter for families that Norris Bank Primary school had shared on their Blog and sent it out to families. The responses were interesting as by asking slightly different questions we were given information that families had not shared with us before and some parents said that the letter had generated some discussion at home about their child’s interests. We used this information and information from the child’s keyworker to write a One Page Profile that was passed to school with the form that families had completed and returned to us.
We received some immediate feedback in the summer from one Reception teacher saying how interesting the One Page Profile had been and that they thought it would be really useful. We wondered if this information had helped the school support the children when they started in September so I asked the teacher for her thoughts about One Page Profiles a few weeks into the new term. The reply we received was, “I love the one page profiles and they’ve really helped me with little tips when dealing with the children.” So where does all this leave us now at the start of a new academic year? In the summer we wrote a One Page Profile for some but not all children, however, we knew very quickly that this was something that we wanted for every child so we adapted our home visit paperwork to include information for a One Page Profile and identified key times during the year when we would update the profile. In the summer we had been put in touch with Gill from Helen Sanderson Associates and she came out to see us in September, after one meeting we had food for thought:
Could we ask the children for information for their profile-how might we do this?
How might we write the profile to make sure it was clear whose opinion was being expressed?
Could we develop profiles for all our staff as well as for all the children?
What other tools and approaches would support us to develop person centered approaches in our school?
Ephgrave, A (2013) the Reception Year in Action, 2nd ed., Abingdon: Routledge.