Is it wrong to cut and paste identical report comments among pupils?

(21 Posts)
Dougal75 Wed 15-Jul-15 13:17:43

My DDs (yr 2 and 4) brought their school reports home last week. DD2's year 2 report comments (general and literacy) were identical to DD1's from year 2, two years ago. They had different year 2 teachers. DD2's year 2 teacher admits that she cuts and pastes from year to year and she shared reports with DD1's year 2 teacher two years ago - explaining why different teachers produced identical comments. Other teachers that we've had at the same school clearly take a lot of care over their comments and don't use this short cut. Also, to free up additional 'report writing time', the final INSET day of the year is used for this job. So, my question is, is it wrong to cut and paste report comments, when this is the one piece of written feedback that parents get each year about their child as an individual? Why not just send home a slip with attainment levels if a proper written report cannot be managed? Wondered what anyone else thinks.

soapboxqueen Wed 15-Jul-15 14:04:16

There are plenty of report writing pieces of software which obviously use similar phrasing. Some schools make their own versions by have stock phrases to choose from. It is actually very hard to say similar things 36 different ways in order for each report to look unique. Especially if a school is trying to get consistency across the school by particular words being used for varying levels of achievement, progress or attitude.

However, I wouldn't have been happy for a colleague to cut and paste whole sections of my previous reports. Have a look yes but not copy.

I think the main thing you need to think about is, does the report accurately reflect your child? If it does then it isn't really an issue. There are only so many ways to say the same thing.

If you don't think it is accurate or is too vague to give any real information, talk to the deputy or head teacher about it. Tell them you are concerned that the information is not accurate because it was cut and pasted from another report.

Just FYI one day is nowhere near enough time to write a whole class worth of reports.

Curioushorse Wed 15-Jul-15 14:14:36

Have changed schools this year and it's the first time I've ever had to formally write reports. Goodness me it's time consuming and a pretty inefficient way of giving feedback. The problem is, the are actually only about five things that you really need to say about a child. The information would be much easier to give in a sort of tick-box chart: quality of homework, academic level etc.
I think parents would be horrified if they knew how long they actually take. I have spent weeks writing them. That's weeks that I have NOT been able to spend planning for next year. My actual lessons will be of a lower standard as a result. A day off timetable would definitely not cut it!
We are not allowed to cut and paste and the reports are rigorously checked for this. Honestly, there are only so many things you can say. The reports that I've written have been definitely more a test of my ability to rephrase the same sentence twenty times, as opposed to a way of expressing meaningful information.

Curioushorse Wed 15-Jul-15 14:17:00

And don't judge me on the poor phrasing of that post! It'll be weeks before I'm ableto properly write anything again.

christinarossetti Wed 15-Jul-15 14:18:44

I had this with my YR dc 2 years after his ds had had the same teacher. The cut and pasted comments related to particular aspects of the curriculum covered/achieved.

Absolutely fair play, I thought - what a sensible, time-saving thing to do, in fact. How many different ways can you say 'x reads fluently' for example?

There were also comments which were very unique to each child though.

I agree that if the report reflects your child and their attainment then it's nothing to worry about. If it doesn't, then regardless of it cutting and pasting, you could consider whether you want to address this with the teacher.

Preminstreltension Wed 15-Jul-15 14:49:31

DS's report said "Well done Thomas" at the end of one paragraph. His name's not anywhere near being Thomas.

MiaowTheCat Fri 17-Jul-15 12:13:53

I'll admit that for the subjects like History, Geography and the like I used to cut and paste (and change the name) the "In History this year X has covered blah, blah and blah" opening line before completing the section with an individually written statement about how the particular child's got on within that subject. In reality though things do tend to start to sound rather samey at certain points when you're talking about 30 kids who've all done the same activities within a given subject and people naturally tend to use the same kind of phrases for the same kind of circumstances. I used to take real care over the final general comments section though that it was absolutely specific to the child in question (made one set of parents cry with how nice it was apparently - oops!)

My PPA cover though used to take the piss with the copy-paste stuff - she'd write a top/middle/bottom standard report for the subject she took and then just go down the class list writing 1 2 3 next to kids' names and give it to me to sort out. REALLY used to fuck me off that she got away with that crap.

holmessweetholmes Fri 17-Jul-15 12:29:02

It's fine to re-use and copy and paste comments - but it is careless and lazy to do it badly! There is no excuse for using the wrong name because you've forgotten to change it. And it's unnecessary to copy a whole report!

I always start a set of reports by doing, say, 5 very different kids first. Then copy and tweak some bits into the other reports and add other specific comments. They don't really come out sounding similar if you do it properly.

But then I quite like writing reports blush - it's about the only bit of admin that I do enjoy.

SunnyBaudelaire Fri 17-Jul-15 12:30:58

we once had an ILP or whatever it is called where DD was referred to as 'he' throughout. It was blatantly cut and pasted from another one.

BackforGood Fri 17-Jul-15 18:12:34

Of course it's fine to cut and paste standard phrase - as long as the appropriate ones are used of course! grin

How many different ways do you think there are to report on 10 or a dozen different subjects for each of 30 children ? confused

The foundation subject phrases have to be set phrases really or you'd just go mad. Yes, add a bit if there is something unique about that child in technology or RE, but generally it's going to be a bit about what they cover. The important bit is the paragraph (usually at the end) where they do tell you something personal about your child.

Also, to free up additional 'report writing time', the final INSET day of the year is used for this job.

Funny. grin I mean, yes, it's a token help, but have you any concept how long it takes to write 30 reports ???? 1 day doesn't scratch the surface I'm afraid.

RedCrayons Fri 17-Jul-15 18:23:11

I assumed they used report writing software, for the 'x enjoyed learning about planes in our science topic' type comments. Seems fair enough, how many ways are there to write that sentence. But if you're getting 'Thomas enjoys PE' when your child is called 'Alice' then that's NOT ON.
At our school reports come with a photo of the child on the cover sheet. One year The photo was of someone else. The head herself apologised for the mistake. (The report bit was right though).

I've no problem with them using the inset day for report writing, it's always tacked onto the whit half term so we get an extra long week. What would you prefer the teachers use that day for?

LibrariesGaveUsPower Fri 17-Jul-15 18:36:36

Holmes - that is how my mum does it. So, for example, her top maths group will have similar paragraphs, tweaked for the individual. Consistency is important as well as indivuality.

spanieleyes Fri 17-Jul-15 20:34:15

I wrote over 17 000 words doing my reports this year, and we don't get any time to do it in so am envious of those who get a whole day!!! As others have said, there are only so many different ways you can say, "Fred sings in tune" and the odd cut and paste is almost necessary!

BlueBrightFuture Sat 18-Jul-15 08:07:30

A few years ago we had a comment in our report saying that "Daisy ways produces very neat work". My DDs name is not Daisy! We also had a score sheet for another child in the envelope. Something clearly went very wrong that year. The school did apologise and issued a new report but I haven't taken the end of year reports all that seriously since. I would hope that if there was a serious problem someone would say something throughout the year.

Icimoi Sat 18-Jul-15 08:08:26

I used to hate the reports which told me what topics and syllabus they'd done that year. I'd suffered through the homework, I'd looked at their books on parents' evenings, I knew perfectly well what they'd done. It looked very much like cut and paste stuff which they were obviously putting into every report to save them having to think about what to write about the child.

MiaowTheCat Sat 18-Jul-15 11:19:35

If people take offence at one line telling you how "Freddie has studied the Ancient Greeks, Egypt and the Vikings in History this year" before going into something Freddie-specific about how he particularly enjoyed mummifying his little brother using all the school bog roll then teachers really can't do anything right.

If the school expects you to start with a sentence stating the general topics covered then you have to do that - and since generally the 30 kids in the class have all done the same topics - that part of the report is always going to sound "samey".

Plus if they ever switch schools it's handy for the next school to be able to glance at the copy of the report they get and see what topics have been covered in those subjects.

Alternatively we could all wish to be allowed to write completely honest, layman's terms reports, but I don't think "if Freddie devoted as much attention to his work as he does to sharpening his pencil 57 times a lesson and whatever's going on on the next table or out of the window" would go down particularly well.

holmessweetholmes Sat 18-Jul-15 12:49:35

Oh it would be very liberating to be able to write totally honest reports! Not very popular with parents though, I fear. And actually, most of the bad ones would just say 'He/she needs to SHUT UP and PAY ATTENTION!" grin . It would be nice to be able to be a bit more honest about ability too. Parents (and kids) can have unrealistic expectations sometimes, which can lead to real disappointment.

Millymollymama Sat 18-Jul-15 18:12:19

Surely the main gist should be what they have done well, what they have achieved and where they need to improve? Software is fine if it can convey this. A report is in addition to parents' evenings, open evenings and even subject evenings. Oh and assemblies, plays, music, marked workbooks and homework which can all be seen by parents. I think planning lessons is way more important and a Head who thinks it is a good use of time to spend days on reports and not on planning is rather misguided.

MidniteScribbler Sun 19-Jul-15 08:28:50

I never cut and paste whole reports, but when you write about 1000 words per student, then it's inevitable that some elements are going to double up. I have a template I use which outlines the main areas I need to address, and I will first go through and put in the various bits of information I need to convey (the specifics of how they have been graded, etc), then I go back and will personalise each section for each child. I also keep a file on my computer with a page for each student, and at the end of most days I will add some general notes, or anything I want to add to the reports at the end of semester. I go through these files and incorporate those comments in to the reports. It is hours of work, and we then swap our reports with another teacher, and they will go through and make suggestions, general editing and proofreading. If I have a pre-service (student) teacher that year, then I will also get their feedback and invite them to write some additional comments as they spend a lot of time with the students as well (and I think it is good training for them). Then they go to the deputy and the principal and they add their feedback as well. I then have to sit down and incorporate all of the changes. It's a process that takes weeks, not a day. We do have a report day, but that's more of just a nod to acknowledging the time it takes, and allows us to sit down with our buddy teacher and conference about the reports. Most of the work on mine are done at about 11pm at night in the weeks in the lead up to report time. And then it's all repeated again the following semester.

duffaho Sun 19-Jul-15 09:04:27

I hand wrote reports for years before software became available and it was hard bloody work I can tell you.2 sides of A4 with subject specific sections followed by a large section devoted to the child's development during the year. Each section required a name and it was heart breaking to reach the last section and realise you had misspelled a word. The whole body thing would need rewriting.
It does take weeks to do properly and it is utterly crushing to see it put into the playground bin by the parent on the day reports are given out.

I was so relieved when report writing software came out but it was shortlived when I realised how limited it is. It's not good enough to just plonk phrases in without consideration.

Take reports back if they do not reflect your child. Maybe the teacher was having an off day and didn't realise their mistake. Give them the opportunity to put things right. It will be a lesson for them if they had thought to get away with a shortcut or at least a wake up call if they had skimped on proofreading.

NotCitrus Sun 19-Jul-15 09:18:27

Fine by me - gives much more detail of what ds has covered than I was expecting, but there's still about 300 words specific to ds and his "personal targets" - ie stuff that isn't numeracy and literacy.

The numeracy/literacy/science is clearly lots of c+p but that's fine as long as it is accurate for my child. At one point one sentence had best friend's name instead of ds's, but as the pair of them have differentiated work together, I just found that amusing.

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