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Manchester Grammar School – Andrew Smith is the Head of Middle School


Moving on with One-Page Profiles

Things moved quickly for One-Page Profiles at Manchester Grammar School in early September.

The Middle School team began with a planning meeting with Helen and Gill Goodwin where we started to crystallise our plans for this school year. Helen and Gill were particularly keen to understand what the shape of the school year looked like from the point of view of a Middle School pupil and to understand where there might be opportunities for us to work on them with the boys, and where there might be opportunities for us to make the One-Page Profiles integral to what we do at the school. We were immediately struck by the potential of One-Page Profiles to really enhance the dialogue between the form tutor and our parents in a number of areas. One was to build the profiles into pre-existing events where our form tutors meet with parents. We decided that we would introduce the concept of the  profiles to the parents at the year 9 form tutor evening later in September, where the parents meet the sons form tutor for the three Middle School years. We also discussed the potential for the profiles and the additional resources developed for us by HSA to be the centre piece for the Form Tutor day in February, where the form tutor discusses their tutees progress with parents in considerable detail. The form tutor day is not simply meant to replicate a ‘parents evening’ type of report but rather an attempt at a more global perspective of a young man’s development at the school, taking into account things like extracurricular involvement and to that end to embrace challenges that would be good for developing valuable skills and attributes.

The other task for the meeting was to induct Sam, Terri, and David into the principles and practice of the One-Page Profile methodology. Gill subjected our initial attempts at producing a profile to close scrutiny and took us through the good day/ bad day activity. Trying to work out the things that created good and bad days for us is certainly a very effective way of realising what we  value in life and the circumstances that allow us to flourish professionally and personally. I began to understand what a powerful tool this activity had to be to use with pupils at the school.

The next day we plunged straight into a CPD training session on One-Page Profiles with about sixteen Middle School form tutors. I will admit to feeling some anxiety about how the session would go. One-Page Profiles were being introduced to them out of the blue and we were taking valuable preparation time before the beginning of term to introduce a concept that, I suspected, might not, at first sight, make sense or appear relevant to a form tutor at an Independent Grammar School. Equally I was also concerned that HSA usually run a two day initial staff training session on One-Page Profiles while we only had a three hour window of opportunity to convince the team of their value and get them sufficiently up to speed with the techniques and principles. However my fears proved unfounded. The session had a really dynamic feel and Gill led the tutors through the activities with assurance. I could tell everyone had really engaged with the ideas because the tutors were continuously throwing up practical questions of implementation or discussing how we could modify some of the techniques for use with teenage boys, rather questioning the principle of why this was a valuable thing to be spending time on. Indeed one of the things that struck me during the session was the extent to which people saw different applications and possibilities for One-Page Profiles. Some emphasised the virtues of self- reflection and the possibilities for helping our pupils develop essential social skills. Others saw the One-Page Profile as a particularly well focused way to get to know our boys, while some tutors who are also senior sports coaches at the school immediately saw applications for One-Page Profiles with their sports squads. There seemed to be all sorts of exciting ideas being thrown into the mix and one of the most pleasing aspects of the training session was the commitment to the integrity of the process and a determination not to allow it to descend into an empty box ticking exercise.

How we were going to make this happen for nearly four hundred pupils was our next problem!