Change that leads to better lives

What Matters Island

This template is designed to help young people talk with their family, carers and any paid supporters to coproduce a summary Preparing for Adulthood plan.

What matters island


This template is designed to help young people talk with their family, carers and any paid supporters to coproduce a summary Preparing for Adulthood plan. It isn’t a one-page profile, although could inform one or complement an existing profile.

What Matters Island is all about you, the young person. It’s really important you are at the centre of planning your own future. You can use the template at home with your family or carers. Or you can use it in schools, colleges and other settings. The most important thing is that you are there and your thoughts and ideas are captured.

You might want to ask people who are important to you to come and help you do your What Matters Island, such as your family and friends. You might also want to think about who else might be important for you to have there, like paid supporters, your SENCO or transition worker for example.

It is important your What Matters Island can be understood by anyone you choose to share it with later. You may want to write or draw on your own What Matters Island, whatever makes sense to you. Some young people ask for help from someone else to do the writing. There is also a version that you can type into which is available to download here (insert the link).

How to use the What Matters Island

What Matters Island template works best in the following order:

1. Name and date | Start with your name because it belongs to you. We also put the date on it so we know when you started it.

2. What Matters Island – people | Next think about what matters to you? Who would you want to take to What Matters Island with you: family, friends, pets? Write their names down on the island.

3. What Matters Island – things to have | Now think about what are the things that matter to you. We also think about what are the things that keep you happy and safe. For example, it might be your favourite bit of tech but you also need to take your medication too.

4. What Matters Island – things to do | What would you like to do when you are there? How will you have fun and enjoy yourself? How will you relax?

5. What am I good at? | List all the things that you are good at. Once you have had your turn you might want to ask the other people in the room what they think you are good at.

6. What people like about me | Now list all the things that people like about you. The people helping you can share all the things they like about you too. You could ask them, what do you appreciate about me? Or perhaps, why do you think I am amazing?

7. If I could, I would - what’s your North Star? | Before we had smart phones and sat navs to help us to get to where we wanted to go, people used the north star. As long as they knew which star in the sky was the north star they could always get to where they wanted to go. If they got lost and needed to get back on track, they would look for the north star. So, what is your north star for your life? Your aspiration or dream for your future? If you could do and be anything in the future what would it be? Say to yourself, if I could I would…

If you don’t know or get a little bit stuck, it can sometimes help to take a look at your What Matters Island and think about the people, things and things you do that matter to you. Then look at what you are good at and what people like about you. Can you find and make any connections? Does this give you any ideas?

8. What I want in the future | When we think about Preparing for Adulthood it can help to think about 4 key things that can happen. Things that are positive and possible.

  • What job do you want to do when you are an adult?
  • How are you going to be as independent as possible? You might want to think about your home, where you would like to live and who you would like to live with if anybody? How are you going to travel and get to places you want to go?
  • What friends and relationships would you like? How can you be part of your community where you live?
  • How are you going to be as healthy as you can be? This includes being physically and mentally healthy. We often call this your wellbeing.

9. What needs to happen? | What are the first steps towards what you want in the future? Make a list of what needs to happen next. You might need to do some things and other people in the room might need to help to. It might help to think about - who, is going to do what, by when. It can be really helpful to share your What Matters Island. If you have a review meeting where a group of people meet with you about your plan, you can share your what matters island with them.

Some top tips for doing your What Matters Island

1. Invite people who are important to you and for you, to help you do your What Matters Island

2. When you meet, it can be helpful for people to take on key roles.

  • A facilitator. Someone who makes sure everyone follows the order of the What Matters Island above and that everyone takes turns and has their say. You might want to do this or ask some else to.
  • A timekeeper. Someone who can keep an eye on the time and makes sure you move through the What Matters Island on time. You might want to do the whole island in one go or break it up into a number of conversations.
  • A note taker or artist. This could be you or you might ask someone to help.

3. Capture your thoughts and ideas on the What Matters Island in whatever way works best for you. You might want to hand write, draw or use the computer. You might want to ask for some help from someone else in the room too.

4. Have fun – you might want to have your favourite music on in the background? Take a break half way through. You might want to share some food to celebrate once you have finished your What Matters Island.

5. Share your What Matters Island with the people who are important to and for you.

6. Six months afterwards, have a chat with people who are important to and for you. This might be at your next review if you have one. Did everyone do what they said they would to help you towards what you wanted to do in the future? What else needs to happen?

We hope you find the What Matters Island Helpful and you enjoy using it.

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Useful Info

This resource was created by the National Development Team for Inclusion as part of our delivery of the Preparing for Adulthood programme, which was funded by the Department of Education to support the SEND reforms.

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