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Help deciphering secondary school reports

(21 Posts)
middleeasternpromise Wed 28-May-14 21:23:15

Could anyone help me understand a London secondary school report? Daughter is supposed to achieve between a 5b and 6c what ever that all means then we have this colour coding of green which appears to mean doing well, yellow which means improvement required and orange. All her homework comes back marked very good yet she has orange in the wishy washy subjects of Art Drama and some madness on PE which suggests she hasn't done her home learning properly - we do have a planner that travels back and forth form home to school you would expect the teachers to write in there wouldn't you if there was a problem but nada!

Very confused but its made DD switch off completely from school which is a shame as she tries hard and always has full attendance. When did we stop using words to explain what's good, what needs to improve. Apparently they are going to send one of these out 3 times a year well if this one is anything to go by I am not sure it will be helpful - good grief help needed.

Unexpected Wed 28-May-14 23:28:41

Is your daughter not capable of explaining the levels to you? Most students have their targets drilled into them and know exactly what is required in any piece of work in order to reach a certain level. I think your attitude of describing subjects like Art and Drama as wishy-washy is probably why your daughter is not meeting her targets in those subjects.

You obviously understand what the colour coding means and I'm sure there is a key on the report, if not. You should already be well aware of levels from primary school. Presumably your DD did SATs? In each subject, she will have been given a level, based on a combination (probably) of her SATs results, tests given in the school, a report from primary school and also some other sources. That target grade for end of year should be displayed on the report. At this stage of the year, your DD should be no more than one sub-level below her end of year target in order to be working at the correct level. Anything less than that means she will most likely miss the target. Those are presumably the ones highlighted in yellow?

If you are supposed to have three of these reports per year, surely this is not the first one you have received? If it is, are the teachers planning two more before July?? If you don't understand the report, do you have a parents evening when you can ask questions? Otherwise, can you email the form tutor or HoY and ask them to explain? With regards to the individual subjects, good teachers should have told your DD what she needs to do to improve, otherwise she may have to be proactive in asking them for help.

DeWee Thu 29-May-14 00:57:13

For my dd at secondary things like PE/Drama/Cooking etc that don't have homework, they slip into orange or red if they fail to bring PE kit or stuff that's required for drama (they often have to bring costumes/props for mini plays).

I suspect these are just quick reports with a basic level and effort/homework grade. You'll get a full report with words at the end of the year.
Just wondering if your attitude ("wishywashy subjects") is making her feel they don't matter so isn't putting in the effort too.

WiggleGinger Thu 29-May-14 01:21:03

Unexpected has put it beautifully. I whole heartedly agree with the comments she made!!!
Talk to your daughter!!!

middleeasternpromise Thu 29-May-14 06:41:30

Thank you Unexpected and Ginger suspect you are both teachers hence your belief the system must be right ! Of course I spoke to DD she doesn't understand it fully either but says orange is bad - she says she doesn't know what she is supposed to do for the subjects and things not colour coded she doesn't know if that's good or bad so is confused too. My views about Art and Drama are based on the fact that there is no home work for these subjects so no method for a parent to support a child with what they are learning (those are my personal views) DD loves these subjects (or did to until now) so she should know what she's supposed to be doing to improve if she's been told, but genuinely had no idea there were any concerns. Got a work planner that goes back and forth but not a single comment all year from any of those teachers.

There's nothing in yellow Unexpected and no coding as far as I can see for that. We don't currently get 3 of these a year I have just had a letter with this one to say that's the plan from now on. Presumably this will be a termly event but at least we can try to communicate with the school after each one.

We have attended two parents evenings this year, this is a massive school which is struggling to manage its parent evening systems so the appointments system doesn't work very well yet and you wait 30-40 mins in a gym trying to jump into a chair after another parent has vacated it - we got to see 5 of them but these are not the ones that seem below par the art and drama were a no show at parents evening.

I am afraid DeWee this is the end of year report and there's no plan for a report with words. I have already written a letter to HoY and form tutor, emails bounce all round the departments before they find the right person so we shall see if I get any better info that route. DD is the shy hard working type but easily put down by teachers who shout a lot or are too busy to speak to her so I'm not sure she's assertive enough to keep pushing them directly for information. I will work on that with her and see if she can get a list of email addresses for the teachers were the subjects aren't colour coded in the right direction.

merlottime Thu 29-May-14 09:30:28

You can't really expect teachers at secondary level to write notes in your daughters planner - the onus has to be on her to speak to the teachers as others have said. If you want to contact anyone go to the Head of Year.

Nocomet Thu 29-May-14 09:47:11

Rule one of secondary reports.
If Maths and English, history and Geography grades make some semblance of sence are green/on target, making expected progress, don't worry about the rest.

IME all Y7-9 actaul grades come out of a bingo machine. MFL, PE and DT subjects having an even more random choice of balls.

Grandually, you will catch all your DDs teachers at parents evenings and be reassured about how she's doing.

Or not doing, gives DD2 a stern look for her total lack of effort in DT.

I'm afraid the lack of written comments in reports is par for the course, we have got less and less in DD1's 5 years at senior school. Even Y10/11 ones are just grades, but at least they are GCSE type grades and look plausible.

middleeasternpromise Fri 30-May-14 00:05:49

Thanks nocomet but how sad is this that teachers don't have to qualify their feedback just give it a colour that's a real shame. To witness a child who tries hard and works in a class of many disruptive students (head said its not our fault) and then get a poor report its not on to crush a child without telling them what to do differently. She has given up right now and that's very sad at 13 I think they have let her down. But I had really good teachers in a difficult school so I want her to know you can rise above this, its not easy you have to see beyond the presenting situation. I don't think good teachers want their work relegated to colour coding so I think we can try and reach the real people behind this.

Nocomet Fri 30-May-14 08:46:41

Yes it is very sad that reports were first relegated to a load of cut and paste computer bank comments and now ours are just numbers or letters, according to ever changing systems.

Please reassure your DD that poor colours for DT etc are, almost certainly, not due to her lack of effort, but due to the automatic system that generates target grades.

If the class is rowdy or you miss DT lessons being ill or at a event and don't complete stuff DT (and similar subjects) levels suffer.

toomuchicecream Fri 30-May-14 18:41:20

I hate those colour coded reports. DS chose to change schools for year 10, did some assessment tests and was given A* target grades for everything. Ever since then 3 reports a year and I can count on 1 hand the number of times he's had anything other than red. Funnily enough, it's neither informative or motivating. A complete and utter waste of time in fact. They'd be better off not wasting the paper and ink.

EvilTwins Fri 30-May-14 19:38:21

Two points...

When I was at school, reports came in a book the size of a chequebook and said things like "could do better", which was useless.

The feedback in the report is absolutely not the only feedback your DD gets, though it may be the most formal feedback you get. It is far more important that the students receives regular feedback (in terms of marking, verbal feedback and so on) than that parents get a lot of feedback. If the students were not getting feedback, the school would be in special measures - ofsted are very big on it.

tricot39 Sat 31-May-14 19:46:40

how big is the school?
i went to secondary with 2000 pupils and landed in a disruptive class. i hated it for 4 years until the people who didnt want to learn left. i am an awkward git and stuck it out to escape them but if your dd is a bit more delicate it could be quite soul destroying for her.
could you move her? would she move if she could?

middleeasternpromise Sun 01-Jun-14 19:28:00

She wont move alas current size is 1600 but about to swell by another 400 soon. I think its pretty unmanageable for the staff. Totally agree with you Toomuch useless exercise - we have gone to WH Smiths to buy relevant books - its like home educating without staying at home.

dippingbackin Mon 02-Jun-14 11:43:32

nocomet would you not expect science to be important too??

springlamb Mon 02-Jun-14 12:02:29

DD has this type of report too (and strangely, her school is set to expand to about 2000 next academic year. Not in Kent are you).

I am just getting to understand it all. For instance, I can see that her assessment grade for A, D & T is the middle column and it was 3A (well she's not very arty). I can see the left column, the end of key stage target for her cohort is 6C. And I can see from the end column, her Tracker (what they expect her to achieve). Her tracker is 6C. There is work to be done there.

So long as her tracker is not too far below the target, I think that means OK. If her assessment is above the end of key stage target that means a special treat (as she has achieved after two terms what they expect them to achieve after 8 terms). She's done this for Maths and Science which tbh we kind of expected.

In practice I maintain a Very Close Eye on my dd's progress. Every day I ask her how was school. Every day she says it was ok. That's as much as I can deal with just now.

Angelto5 Mon 02-Jun-14 12:14:24

My ds is in yr 10 & doing well. Although he is on the right track 2 getting b/c's for gcse he is quite quiet in most subjects. Some teachers marked him dwn for effort because of this!

Angelto5 Mon 02-Jun-14 12:15:21

What year is she in?will she be doing options @ the end of yr 9?smile

Nocomet Mon 02-Jun-14 12:27:35

Yes, I forgot science blush

The trouble is that targets for Ifsten progress are set off KS2 SATs. They bear no relationship to how a particular teen developes or where their in treats lie as they get older.

How can you tell if a Y7 will flourish at German or Graphics?

Nocomet Mon 02-Jun-14 12:28:48

Ofsted, interests

Mine didn't include English lessons as you can see.

mythbustinggov Mon 02-Jun-14 12:43:31

If she doesn't understand what she needs to do to improve in a subject, she should ask. If that doesn't work - you should ask. If necessary arrange a meeting with the teacher. And if classroom disruption is the issue, complain about it - to the head. Heads are supposed to report parental communications to the Governors - in my experience they only report stuff that actually goes to them.

In my experience as a governor, it's pushy parents that get things changed. Complain, if you don't understand the system others won't either - and teachers need to be held to account for random gradings and failure to point up issues.

middleeasternpromise Tue 03-Jun-14 00:17:34

She was born in 2000 which apparently was a bumper year for boys - girls are a 3-1 ratio in her school. The school cant be blamed for that and the head actually does some teaching (good on him) he admits its a night mare setting up work desks - the students are not unexpectedly difficult I think its just a difficult dynamic for the teachers. (I don't like boys getting a bad press all the time but you do have to consider your learning environment if you have odd numbers) not in Kent spring but London, think its par for the course this expanding business - staff don't have a say!! She goes into Yr 9 tomorrow they switch in the last term to settle everyone so cant speak directly to the teachers who 'coloured in their views' but I will track the last known form tutor and who knows we might get a response!! Its mad when the only feedback comes out before they transition - Parent teacher consultation was absolutely awful no time no teachers v difficult to communicate but I will persist !!!!

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