This is an approach that predates and anticipates the Every Child Matters Agenda in enabling information flow between parents and professionals during the period of transition from pre-school provision into school.
Personal Communication Passports (PCPs) were originally developed by Sally Millar (1995) of the Call Centre in Edinburgh which is a national resource centre for the use of technology in aiding the communication and inclusion of learners experiencing sensory, physical or communication difficulties.
Millar described PCPs as
‘A collection of important and well presented information about an individual with sensory and communication difficulties, who cannot speak for themselves, for the purpose of facilitating communication and understanding'.
The idea has been adapted by Ann Butt and Claire Cosser (2001) in their work in supporting the transition of children with identified needs into mainstream nursery settings or reception classes in Derby. In addition they have found PCPs useful as an aid to inclusion across many early play and social activities, including playgroups, crèches, respite and holiday activities. They suggest that it is a ‘written way of parents passing on important information about their child to an individual or setting.'
PCPs may comprise:
- A simple notebook with photos of the child, families and activities
- A laminated spiral-bound book tailored to the wishes and needs of the families
- Small pocket photo albums with text and photos inserted
- Photocopied Sheets
The intention is that the process fully involves the parents. In that the passport follows their agenda and informs professionals about their child and what they might do to understand and include her or him.
Possible headings could include:
- My name (title page)
- Important things about me
- Family and friends
- Things that make me happy and how I show this
- Things that may upset or frighten me and how I show this
- What I need to help me understand what you are saying
- Communication Systems
- Things I am learning to do by myself
- Things that are rewards for me
Relevance for teachers
This approach is perhaps just the elaboration of good practice in communicating with parents and utilising their unique knowledge of their child. It provides a tool for relevant professionals use this in their teaching.
It provides an example of how parents' knowledge can be utilised with children who are experiencing significant difficulties. It is not intended that all children will need this level of documentation but teachers should perhaps be expected to know the answers to many of the above questions regarding children who are experiencing significant barriers to learning.
Many early years settings may be using such an approach as part of their planning without calling it this.
Butt, A. & Cosser, C. (2004) Supporting transition: Pre School Setting Into First Placement in Blamires, M. & Moore, J Support Services and Mainstream Schools: A guide for working together
London: David Fulton
Millar, S (1995) Use of Personal Passports with Deafblind People (Final Report)Scottish Office Education Department /Scotland SENSE