Could you be a facilitator?

Facilitators needed:

We are currently recruiting facilitators in Kent to see how we can build connections and resilience within families via Community Circles.

CC LogoFacilitators will help to co-ordinate and run Circles on behalf of the families, with objectivity. They will receive training in order to provide a person centred approach for the families.  The training is free and will cover a variety of person centred planning tools and how to facilitate a circle.

What are Circles?

The idea of a circle is both simple and ancient. A circle is simply a group of people who come together regularly with a common purpose, who think and talk together, then agree and take actions that will further that purpose. It’s based on humanity and human relationships, and on the way that a group of people working together can harness their mental and physical resources toward a common end.

‘Circles of Support’ already improve the lives of a small minority of people in thousands of diverse ways. How can we share the effectiveness of circles so that they touch the lives of many more people, and become a tool for building connection and resilience in Kent?

Is this national or just a Kent project?

Community Circles is a national project. You can find out more about Community Circles at their website, on their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

We’re exploring how to create Community Circles at scale, using person-centred practices, so everyone can benefit.

Who would benefit from a Circle?

One issue that is common to many people who have long term illness or disability is that they become socially isolated. Here it becomes necessary to consciously build circles and connections with the person, because for some people connection does not occur easily or automatically.

Sometimes a circle can even begin with just the focus person and one other person making a commitment to work to build a circle of support around the person, however difficult that is, and however long it takes. This more ‘intentional’ work of building connections in order to overcome a person’s social isolation is what is meant by a ‘circle of support’.

Get Involved?

If you are interested in learning more or would like to get involved, please email debs.circles@gmail or ring 07508 232399.



GPS: Giving Parents Strategies

20140105-132341Being a secret hippy, I love self-help books and blogs.

The more I read, the more ideas I get on how some of the strategies could help other parents of children with disabilities or special educational needs.  The strategies to “bounce back” after a bad day, the strategies to be resilient after a bad experience in the supermarket and the strategies to know where to go for support.

I know however, that I am fortunate to have the time to read through these books, I also know they are not the chosen reading for everyone.

So I have spent the last month or so working on a new workshop.  A workshop aimed specifically at parents, taking ideas from a number of books and providing some really practical ideas on how to survive the Jungle we live in.  I have used these strategies personally for the last few months and the difference they have made is immense. My hubby and kids are benefitting from a less-stressed out me and in turn, they too are calmer and happier (except this morning, when “back to school” arrived)!

GPS: Giving Parents Strategies.  There are several amazing courses out there on helping families to cope but many of them require 5-10 weeks commitment from families and to be honest, that is something that deterred me personally.  I know of many parents who have attended them and had great feedback but for me, with a short attention span and a chaotic life, I prefer “short and sweet”.

I am mum to three children, under 10, all with a variety of SEN/Disability, all statemented, all in different schools and I have my fingers in many pies (too many pies) so time is not something I want to give up, especially when it is a course for “me”.  If it was a course on managing behaviour in my child or sleep issues for children, I would gladly give up months of my time but giving up time to do a workshop that is just about me – well that is a concept that I struggle with and I know I am not alone.

GPS is not a condensed version of any of the courses, it is original.  Why duplicate what is already out there?

GPS runs from 10-2 (working lunch) for one day and is informal and friendly.  6 weeks later, the parents are invited back for a fun coffee morning to see how the strategies are working.

Interested?  We will be running this in Ashford in January so get in touch if you want to find out more.


One Page Profile? Tell me more…

In the new draft SEN Code of Practice, there is a brief reference to One Page Profiles and Person Centred Planning.  Several people use these and know how powerful they can be, however, quite a lot of people asked me what they actually were.  So I went to Helen Sanderson of Helen Sanderson Associates and asked her to explain.

helen-opp-picMy 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.

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)

One-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.

Screenshot 2013-11-27 12.14.21A 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 simply thing, that did not cost any money, enabled Guy to stay in school.

Fundamentally, one-page profiles put the child at the centre of their learning and personalises their support to them, creating the best opportunity for each child to learn, develop and succeed.

One-page profiles are both a way to share important information, and also to the foundation of changes through person-centred reviews. Zach’s first one-page profile was created when he was in Year 1, following a person-centred review meeting. Many of the significant adults in Zach’s life came together with Zach to talk about what they like and admire about him, what support he needs and what’s working/not working for Zach. A huge amount of rich information about Zach was generated and collated by the school into his first one-page profile. This was shared with significant adults and used for transition to Year 2 to support a full understanding of Zach for new adults in his life. Zach’s one-page profile is re-visited at his annual person-centred review meeting and updated in this way according to his changing needs.

Helen Sanderson, Helen Sanderson Associates

Here at Inspiring Circles, we have used One Page Profiles personally – especially when our children are moving into a new class, having a new taxi driver or escort or if we get a new PA.  It is such an easy way to share the important information.

We really need more mention of these and person centred planning in the new Code of Practice.  With the removal of school action and school action plus, 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.

So, if you are writing a response to the new draft Code of Practice (consultation finishes on 9 December so you still have time), then please add in a request for there to be a much stronger focus on One Page Profiles and Person Centred Planning tools within the Code.  

You can find out more about one page profiles on the following sites:

*  Helen Sanderson Associates

* One Page Profiles – create your own

*  Youtube