West Sussex are creating lots of PATHs

West Sussex work on Person Centred Planning – lots of great examples of work in schools and across the LA are described here following the training by Inclusive Solutions team over a number of years.

Developing a Person Centred Approach for a young person’s Education Health and Care Plan Annual Review (April 2016)

Report written by:

  •   Leslie Nielsen, SENCO, The Littlehampton Academy

  •   Jerricah Holder, Educational Psychologist (jerricah.holder@westsussex.gov.uk)


    To support schools, parent carers and professionals in the development of person centred approaches the Local Authority arranged for a 2 day training session in Person Centred Planning. During this training attendees learnt how to use various person centred planning tools such as a PATH. A PATH is a creative person centred planning tool that use graphic facilitation to collect information and develop positive future plans with the young person and the ‘team’ around them. The SENCO from The Littlehampton Academy, a large mainstream 11-19 Academy on the South Coast of West Sussex, attended this training and has actively embraced the use of the PATH tool for Education Health and Care Plan (or Statements of SEN) Annual Reviews. This is in line with key principles of the SEND Code of Practice 2014.

    This report shares a view of the SENCO’s journey to date in using the PATH.

    “I supported our local Educational Psychologists in our first PATH. Although it was scary doing something new, we worked together as a team. As the process needs one person to guide the discussion and a second to graphically capture the conversation we each had our own role. Co-delivering my first PATH really helped build my confidence in the process. In case you are wondering, you don’t need to be an artist – everyone can graphic.

    A typical PATH session takes two hours, this is twice as long as our old Annual Review process. I think it is definitely worth the extra time as students really like this new approach as they feel it’s about them and it is important for parents to listen to their child’s dream especially as it can often be different from their own. The old Annual Review process could create lots of negative emotions – this new person centred approach feels very different, all participants leave the session feeling happy. The student takes on the responsibility for their actions with the support of everyone in the room. At The Littlehampton Academy we currently have 22 students with Education Health and Care Plans or Statements of SEN and it has been so beneficial that the PATH process is being used for all our Annual Reviews, more especially for those transfers into EHCP.

    Before the PATH meeting an initial letter is sent to the parent carer about the new approach, explaining who they can invite and what will happen during the meeting. I always follow this up with a telephone call to answer any questions they may have. Typically the parent(s) attend the meeting along with the Student, Learning Support Assistant, Pastoral Lead, Form Tutor and Note Taker. If the student is supported by an external professional such as Speech and Language or Occupational Health Therapist they are also invited. All of the students’ subject teachers are asked to provide written input through a round-robin email few weeks prior to the annual review meeting.

    Drinks, biscuits and music helps to set the tone at the meeting. Props keep conversation flowing. For example when someone is talking they hold the wand, a squeaky ball is used if anyone starts to talk in jargon. Flash cards (judge / handcuffs) remind us to not make judgements and focus on the future.

The student always talks first about their future ‘dreams’. Nothing is too crazy. Parents and other participants then take their turn to share thinking. Next we focus on the positive and possible part of the ‘dream’ and where the student wants to be a “year from now” – this is the tricky part as it is quite hard for the young person to think of. Together we co-produce a huge graphic of the conversation including actions required to get there.

This is an example of a PATH.

Photos are taken of the PATH, before the student takes them home, for our records as we can cut and paste relevant sections into Annual Review documents.

Information from the Parent and Student booklets (completed in advance of the Annual Review meeting) are also added in the paperwork, as well as the setting report.

The PATH is such a visual process – visual is vital for SEND – through the graphicing process a young person’s future can be unlocked and visualised.

The feedback from parent carers on the PATH process has also been really positive.”

“It is the first time our son is part of the annual review and it is great to have him with us participating and say what he wants.” Mrs L.

“It’s just brilliant.” Mrs M.

Top Tips

“It is great to have this big drawing of what he chose to talk about in his annual review. Thank you.” Mrs B

  •   Staff need to be timetabled appropriately so they can attend the meeting.

  •   As part of the PATH meeting, organise follow up termly meeting (for pastoral lead and

    student) so actions and progress can be discussed.

  •   Size of the group at the Annual Review meeting is key – too many people and the

    session will last too long. 6 people is ideal, although we did run one with 11 people this

    meant that the session lasted nearly 3 hours.

  •   You need a room for the meeting with enough flat wall space for white paper

    graphicking – masking tape helps keep the paper on the wall.

  •   Book in enough time to prepare for the session – invites need to be sent and the white

    paper template prepared ahead of the meeting.

  •   You need to have a named middle / senior leader in your school leading on the

    approach. Person Centred Planning needs to become part of everyday practice to become embedded – if it’s something you only do once a year you’ll end up not doing it at all.

  •   A PATH is something you have to try – if you do it ‘wrong’ only you will know! Relax and have fun.

    Next Steps to embed this approach at The Littlehampton Academy

  •   To use this approach with students with challenging behaviour (not all have EHCPs)

  •   Use MAPS to develop an Early Help Plan. A MAP is similar to a PATH but also gathers

    information on the history of the person and therefore can be useful for more complex


  •   Develop and deliver whole school input on Person Centred Planning during an INSET.

  •   Pairing up with other schools in the local area to facilitate PATHS – for example with a

    feeder primary school to focus on Year 6 / 7 transition.

  •   To train up Annual Review note takers and pastoral leads in both graphic and process

    facilitator roles.

PATH Process – Step by Step guide

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