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Communication Passports as a tool to capture pupil voice in transition

Hey everyone! My name is Khadija. I am a 1st year student from the University of Manchester, and I just finished my first clinical placement with Total Communication Services CIC, based at New Bridge School and College. One of the projects that we worked on at New Bridge School, is Communication Passports. On the first day, I attended a meeting with Danielle Cotton and Valerie Bayley, both New Bridge School staff working on the student's EHCPS. Val explained that an EHCP is an educational and healthcare plan given to all the students at the school, that displays a set of personalised education and healthcare as well as social needs that are needed to be met for that student. We discussed a document called "all about me", which essentially provides meaningful information all about the student. This led to us coming up with ways to try and convert these into communication passports for the students.

The introduction of communication passports came about as part of the Pupil Voice Project. Many of the students have all about me profiles, which are digital documents held by staff. Total Communication Services CIC staff thought that these could be converted into communication passports. Communication passports are more widely used by adult services and are owned by the person. The benefit of a passport is that it stays with the person and can move between locations. It is owned by them and is a more accessible version of the all about me profile. The emphasis is also on how to communicate more effectively with the pupil. School leavers were identified as being a priority for this work.

Communication passports are a way of supporting people when they transition. They are a good way for students to provide information about themselves to others, especially if they have difficulty communicating in the first place. The students that we worked with specifically, are going to be transferred to a new environment, so having a communication passport to take with them will benefit them positively. Passports are also a way to start an interaction. The information included, can help the student and the conversational partner to start a conversation based on a certain topic in the passport.

We discussed ideas that allowed the students to get as involved as possible in the making of these passports. Even if they weren’t necessarily able to voice their opinion themselves, they were still able to provide input by telling us what colours to use, or certain pictures they would like to include and we involved parents as we realised that they knew the child best and their input needed to be central to the process. These were some of the ideas discussed to make sure the student was as involved as possible and their voice was heard in some shape or form. This helped a lot as it gave me a slight insight into how I would approach the students that I worked with, to make their communication passports.

I’ve completed 4 weeks on placement and worked with two students on their passports in this time. I had the opportunity to work with them once every week and learnt to make sure that they were engaged during our meetings and that they enjoyed this experience of making their passports and it is something to be celebrated. Some students had digital passports, and some had tactile passports, depending on their specific needs. We asked the teachers at the beginning of the project, which passport they think would be appropriate for the students. The students that I worked with specifically, were from the autism and interaction-based parts of the school, therefore, one required a digital passport and the other required a tactile passport. I really enjoyed working with the students and the staff members and parents to create these passports, as well as observing how the pupils communicated with the staff and vice versa. I gained lots of transferable skills by the end of my placement, which will benefit me in the future. A specific skill that I worked on was trying to build a rapport with people and make them feel comfortable enough to want to communicate with me freely, especially while I worked with the students and the staff to make the communication passports. I feel that I have gotten better at this and it is my biggest takeaway from this placement.

Khadija Hussain

First year Speech & Language Therapy Student

University of Manchester

Useful Reference:

Personal Communication Passports: Guidelines for Good Practice


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