Using One Page Profiles for your special needs child

In the draft new SEN Code of Practice, there is a brief reference to One Page Profiles and Person Centred Planning.

Some organisations and parents already use these tools and know how powerful they can be, however, quite a lot of people don’t even know what they are.  So, I wanted to share with you my experience of One Page Profiles and we also asked Helen Sanderson of Helen Sanderson Associates, who developed the concept of One Page Profiles, about their use.

Helen writes..

A one-page profile gives a shared understanding about the child, built from the knowledge of the child, the family and friends and teaching staff.


They give parents an opportunity to share their learning and expertise on what good support means for their child, and what is important to them. It is these ‘little things’ that make a huge difference.

Jen liked to have her socks pulled up, and could not settle in class unless her socks were just how she wanted them. If a teacher who did not know that, was to say, ‘Stop messing with your sock’, then that Jen would not be able to concentrate on the lesson at all.

Guy was anxious about coming to school, and by doing his one-page profile, staff learned that he felt more able to cope if he had a seat by the door in the class room. All teachers knew that, and a simple thing, that did not cost any money, enabled Guy to stay in school.

A one-page profile is a simple way to start personalising education. It is a person-centred thinking tool that provides a way to capture who each pupil is and how best to support them – as far as is possible on one page.

There are three sections in a one-page profile:

  1. ‘Appreciation’ – what people appreciate about the pupil, their character, gifts and talents
  2. ‘What is important to’ – what matters to them, from their perspective, about school and life
  3. ‘How to support’ – the ‘expertise’ from family, teachers and other staff about how to get the best out of the pupil (and the pupil themselves of course)

 My daughter, Laura, had the first one-page profile when she was six, eight years ago. She had been in Year 2 for three weeks, when she came home one day in tears, saying the teacher had told her off for wearing the wrong trousers in PE. When we went to see Laura’s teacher, she explained that she had not told Laura off, but had pointed out that if she only had shorts, and not jogging bottoms, then her legs would get cold. She also said that she had not really been able to get to know Laura, as she is quiet in class.

We decided that we needed to help the teacher to learn more about Laura – and quickly. At that time I was the Department of Health’s expert advisor in person-centred planning, and I knew this could be a helpful approach, but I also knew that teachers would not have the time to read the detailed plans we were using. So, I created a one-page version for Laura – a one-page profile.

opp templateOne-Page Profiles can be developed and updated throughout the school year and as part of the curriculum. The first part of a one-page profile is an appreciation  – what people like or admire about the child. We involved Laura’s extended family in contributing to this. It was lovely for Laura to hear what her family likes and admires about her. Then, over a hot chocolate in a cafe, Laura and I thought about what was important to her – her yellow Teddy Sunny who slept on her bed, her three cats, the stick insects and wondering if their eggs would hatch; and what we know as her parents about the best ways to help and supporter her – recognising that she finds change difficult and needs lots of reassurance, and that she can perceive a small negative comment as a big telling off.  Laura drew a picture of herself for the background of the profile and we made an appointment to share it with her teacher.

Laura’s one-page profile helped her move from class to class. Each year we updated it with Laura and her teacher, and Laura drew a new picture or chose a photo of herself.

Fast-forward now to 2011 when, at the same school, Norris Bank, every child has a one-page profile. Stockport is the first local authority to commit to every child, whether in primary, secondary or special school having a one-page profile, and twenty-two schools in the borough are leading the way.

Debs writes..

I have used One Page Profiles personally – when my son moved school and when my children have a new taxi driver or escort or if we get a new Personal Assistant.  It is such an easy way to share the important information.  The taxi One Page Profile has been a huge hit with everyone, especially the staff who escort my children in the taxis.

Having one of our escorts actually phone us to make a few updates was a real highlight. It was also a really positive day when one of our drivers produced his own Profile (including his preferred choice of music/radio, use of food/drink in his cab, etc).  This caused us much entertainment but has helped immensely with behaviour in the cab.

With the proposed removal of School Action and School Action Plus in the new Children & Families Bill, it is really essential that those children and young people, who will now come under the "school-based category", have the right support in place.  Having a One Page Profile and using person-centred planning tools will really help this to happen.

If you want to create your own over the half-term, but don't know where to start, then this site is really useful and has some templates for you to use.

For those of you who prefer information visually, then this YouTube video is really informative.

What do you think? Have you used a One Page Profile? Do you think it would help your child?

Debs Aspland
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  1. Such a simple idea, yet I can see it would make a huge difference! I always worry when my daughter moves up a year into a new class with new teachers. She is in the SCU and is completely non-verbal and cannot communicate meaningfully in any way, and I always end up writing a HUGE essay to the new teacher, which I’m sure they can’t possibly have the time to read properly and take in! I’m going to try and implement this at her school…thank you for bringing it to mu attention!

    1. Debs Aspland

      Hi Janine, they are so easy to put together and so beneficial to our children, I just wish every LA was like Stockport where they have committed to every child having one.
      We can but hope that one day we get there.
      Debs x

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