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What do you look for in a school report?

(30 Posts)
blushc Fri 04-Jun-04 17:25:43

Hi, I'm a Year One teacher currently writing reports. I was just wondering how you feel about them. Which aspects matter to you most and which least? Has a teacher ever written anything you loved or something you hated? How do you feel about grades, test results, information about subject learning and personal comments? Do you like a formal or informal, personal style? Any opinions or anecdotes would be interesting!

Tinker Fri 04-Jun-04 17:37:36

Helps if you can find something individual to say for each child. Sounds obvious but when comparing my daughter's with her classmates last year (via the mothers) they all had the same comment for science! Don't mind whether it is formal or informal as long as it captures the essence of teh child - which must be hard to do in a class of 30. Having said that, when my dad died, I found an old school report of his from the 1930's. It described him as 'an obedient and dutiful boy'. Made me cry

Goingcrazy Fri 04-Jun-04 18:04:16

I like a school report to show that the teacher really knows my child (good and bad points!) so I suppose I prefer a more informal approach. In KS1 I understand that in subjects like science, geography, RE etc (which are not done in great depth), it is difficult and time consuming to write something individual for each child. I'm quite happy to just know that they have covered the curriculum and are or are not doing OK. The main thing at Year 1 level that I want to know is their social development - how they behave in class, do they contribute to class discussions, are they helpful, are they forming friendships with other children etc. Hope this helps and good luck with writing 30 reports!

jampot Fri 04-Jun-04 18:09:25

Same here - last year when my ds was in year 1 nearly every child got the same report. I prefer a report which shows me how my child is within school environment and how they are forming friendships, strengths and weaknesses etc, not necessarily just from the teacher point of view but also taking into account classroom assistants who may work with my child on a more personal basis within small take out groups.

codswallop Fri 04-Jun-04 18:42:10

ours have a personal statement form t he head which I like
ds1s from his class techer was nice as it really captured the essence of him - good and , well less good
it ssaid he was "fun to be around"

they use statenent banks I think 9 I speak as an ex techer) and i dont like the bits where you can tell they have had a series of statement s like
"He is starting to realise that x is y"

wehn you know that that is the middle of a series of options.

whether the other perents realise they are computer generated i dont know.

codswallop Fri 04-Jun-04 18:42:36

Hmm typing really takes the biscuit today

tamum Fri 04-Jun-04 18:59:26

Coddy gets C+ for her typing; she has clearly demonstrated that she understands the need to work towards level B

Very timely, because I got ours today. Very clearly computer generated in parts. I'll use real quotes. The kind of things I am not really interested in are that ds (aged 9) "shows an understanding of holy places and the purpose of a pilgrimage", not because I don't care about RE but because it doesn't tell me anything about him, just states something he's been learning (actually I would be gobsmacked if he did understand the purpose of a pilgrimage, so maybe that's not a great example). Similarly, I don't really care that dd "will now learn about different properties of shapes". On the other hand that bit that says that ds "is a lovely boy..displays a kind and caring attitude... with his own individual charm" is one I will treasure for years, not just because it's nice, but because the teacher has clearly thought about him and not used a standard form of words. Cue loads of mumsnetters coming on to tell me that's exactly what their ds's report said....

Thanks for asking, it's nice to have a chance to discuss it!

codswallop Fri 04-Jun-04 19:05:05

tamum each school can write their own statements so the report really is only as good as the statement bank. the report must adress whether the kids has reached the attianment levels int he curriculum

for eg years ago on of htem in history was to recognise anachronism , or ( hmm racks brains) that change doesnt always mean progress ( that was like level8) so you need to have a degree of jargon so that the report fulfills the reqs of the nat curriclum

But it is pretty shitey!

Aero Fri 04-Jun-04 19:09:09

Echo goingcrazy. My ds1 (6) is hopefully achieving all he should (I should hope we'd know before report time if he wasn't), so I like to see how he's doing socially, about the relationships he form with his peers and adults. These are the things which will be most important for future happiness.

Beetroot Fri 04-Jun-04 19:09:29

Message withdrawn

Piffleoffagus Fri 04-Jun-04 19:19:07

I like and love and personal touch, something that akes me sile and know that you know who my son is...
the last teacher wrote....
Albert Einstein has thinking below this young man, but I wonder if AE would have lost so many raincoats, jumpers or PE kit this year....
I giggled so hard....

tamum Fri 04-Jun-04 19:21:53

I didn't know that about the statement bank coody, that's interesting. I think because I'm in Scotland the requirements are a bit less stringent in terms of the curriculum- we do have one but it's not the same as in England. The children get tested at their individual level, so we already have those results in any case. I can see that they have to cover all the ground though. I suppose I'm just saying that a few positive remarks about personality help a lot!

Cll Fri 04-Jun-04 19:41:59

we got a great report for our dd who's just finished reception. In each area there were achievements that it was obvious all or most of the other children were getting (and the teacher said as much ie if they could do it - it was written down) but at the end of each section was a separate section with comments which were all positive and personal to her and in a couple of areas targets (no criticism) but things she could aim for ie in her case trying to take more care of her personal belongings - which was spot on as we've been thro several coats, art aprons etc etc. The report was long - the individual comments very short - but it felt as if you had an overview of the year as well as getting the feeling the teacher had got a handle on your child and appreciated them for who they were - I think that was the most important thing - that the person they spent every day with cared as much about them and their development as you did - tall order and impossible I know but nice as a parent to get that impression

tallulah Fri 04-Jun-04 23:13:52

I agree with Tamum. Reports that tell me "this year we have covered such n such" are a waste of everyone's time. TBH we get the sheet at the start of term that tells us what they'll be covering, so I really don't need to know on a report that they did it.

What I need to know is "X has really improved his spelling this year" or "Y is finding it easier to make friends" or even "Z must learn not to talk so much" (A needs to realise that other members of the group have a valid input) (yes we've had many of those ).

I want to know that the teacher actually knows my child & is aware of his/her strengths & weaknesses & isn't just rehashing the same old thing for each of the 30 children in the class. I'm also interested in where my child is in the class in relation to everyone else. Is he in the bottom third & struggling? Is he at the top but coasting? Is he somewhere in the middle & actually doing OK? That is useful information.

The only thing I don't want on a report is something nasty (& personal) dressed up as concern, which we got at the end of Y7 for DS2 who is SEN. Fact is fine but personal opinion is not required in this case.

twogorgeousboys Fri 04-Jun-04 23:44:03

Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you (do not currently have to write reports as am on career break). Report writing took a very very long time - at least an hour and a half per child - 30 children in the class; many nights burning the midnight oil, I am sure you are familiar with this and I wish you lots of luck and hope you have something nice planned to celebrate finishing them!

tigermoth Sat 05-Jun-04 16:49:22

oh yes, writing reports for 30 children sounds a daunting task.

I'd definitely like to know about my son's social development in class and his attutide to learning - what methods work and what methods don't. In year 1 I want to know more about his attitude than about his achievements.

I want to to know how his personality shines through - is he 'lively' 'shy' 'confident' at school? can you give me some anecdotal examples? tall order I know.

It would really help if you tell me how he has changed in the year you have taught him - how much he has taken in, how his character has developed. What has improved, what has got worse, if anything. I then might be able to tackle this in holidays in the run up to year 2.

I like to hear what he has learned, but it's the personal touches that I will treasure.

Hulababy Sat 05-Jun-04 17:08:50

Tallulah - "A needs to realise that other members of the group have a valid input" - I love this comment I might pinch to put on some of my reports next time

Good luck blushc - report writing takes ages!

This is really interesting thread and is pretty helpful info - I will certainly bear this all in mind next time I am wriing mine. This is great and one of the reasons Mn is fab - Thank you

Hulababy Sat 05-Jun-04 17:09:07

Tallulah - "A needs to realise that other members of the group have a valid input" - I love this comment I might pinch to put on some of my reports next time

Good luck blushc - report writing takes ages!

This is really interesting thread and is pretty helpful info - I will certainly bear this all in mind next time I am wriing mine. This is great and one of the reasons Mn is fab - Thank you

hmb Sat 05-Jun-04 17:11:16

a comment on dd read, 'X is a very enthusiastic student who loves to tell anyone who will listen about what she is doing. ', ie she never shuts up!

hmb Sat 05-Jun-04 17:11:27

a comment on dd read, 'X is a very enthusiastic student who loves to tell anyone who will listen about what she is doing. ', ie she never shuts up!

tigermoth Sat 05-Jun-04 17:31:24

and after hearing jimjams' take on this, my heart would sink if I saw 'x is a delighful child' on my sons' school reports.

Lara2 Sun 06-Jun-04 20:30:46

Ah, teacher speak on reports rears it's ugly head again!! I always translate for DH - and it is a bloody nightmare writing the things. There are children who fall into similar groups for all sorts of things, simply because that's the way people are. And, once you write something you think sounds good, it's SO hard to get it out of your head - a bit like trying not to stare at a huge zit on someone's nose! Personally, I'd love to write warts and all reports, but in all honesty, parents don't want that I think - especially when they don't listen when I tell them at parents evenings! That makes me sound horrid - it's not meant to be. I love the children in my classes every year - and what alwqys concerns me the most (for them and my own 2 DS's)is that they are happy at school and trying their best - because if they aren't then they can't learn.

roisin Sun 06-Jun-04 21:01:48

Lara2 - As a parent I would rather hear the negative stuff face-to-face than in a report, or at least face-to-face first. DS1's year 1 report was lovely ... it did have some less than positive stuff in it, but it was phrased tactfully, and I always knew exactly what the teacher was meaning ... and as we had been in close contact over a difficult year I'd also heard it all already.

I don't deny that my son can be difficult - especially that year - but in a report I want to hear the positive as well.

When I got his first ever school report from nursery when he was still 4, I was horrified. It sounded as though he was a monster. At the time he did have considerable problems in the social/emotional areas. But this teacher had put something negative in EVERY section on the report, even though these negative things all related to the social/emotional sphere. Also the last sentence of nearly every section was negative. His subsequent teacher (after we'd moved house) said he thought some parts of the report were completely out of order, and that he didn't want to speak to the writer of it.

I would post it on here as an example of how not to do it, but two years on it still brings up quite raw emotions for me. Logically I know that's daft, as I know it was an unfair report, but it was his first school report and try as I might I cannot throw it in the bin and forget about it.

So good luck to all those teachers who are dashing to finish the last few reports ... they are important and parents do care A LOT about the contents.

fisil Sun 06-Jun-04 21:02:36

In my job I have to support & check the writing of every students' report - that's nearly 1500! I see a huge range of approaches in what my colleagues come up with. I try to encourage the same basic structure:

1) an overall and personal comment about the student, which includes a general statement about their progress/ability, as well as attitude, motivation and behaviour
2) more in depth about how to improve on a general aspect of their work (e.g. this could be advice on how to revise, an explanation of what improvements in layout and presentation could improve their work)
3) a list of topics that they should focus on in their independent work and next year (e.g. learning your timestables, adding and subtracting decimals)

The whole point of reports, surely, is to get teacher, parent and student all working towards the same goal? And so it needs to be as clear, practical and constructive as possible. But yes, this is a huge huge job, and as I say, I see a lot of reports, and (let's just say) not all of them reach these criteria!

StripyMouse Sun 06-Jun-04 21:35:27

When a secondary school teacher, I was on a "report writing" review panel and went to several county meetings and long action group type activities to discuss how to improve school reports. As well as a subject teacher and form tutor, I also trained and worked as a PGCE tutor for several years. As I had to write so many of these myself as well as help others "learn" how to do this onorous task, it was/is a subject close to my heart.

The main issues (that I can remember) that we thought important at the time(but are possibly outdated now) were:

1. keep a balance between positive and negative - helps to start with a positive comment (if space allows, good to include an academic positive and a personal positive comment) follwo on by picking up on areas for improvement/areas of concern
2. Always be specific - "Johnny’s work is becoming very untidy and he needs to become a lot neater from now on" - how is it untidy, how can he improve it, how much does it need improving? Doesn’t need to be long winded, just more precise - even if this means only touching on a coupe of issues and leaving the rest to follow up in an interview if necessary.
3. Set SMART targets to help pupil move on and make progress (S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for realistic ( in consideration of all the pupils other commitments and studies), T for timed ie. "by the end of half term"
4. Doesn’t matter on informal or formal as depends on the individual circumstances and relationship with pupil and parents (this was heatedly discussed to death , I remember with a wince). Most people found that a friendly but professional tone is better than too casual and an overly formal tone can read very patronising or harsh.
5. Most important (might be more useful in secondary school than primary, not sure) but the more successful report that has a positive impact is one where the pupils are involved by writing report on their yearly achievments and successes, set their own targets. This is a great way of helping them feel part of it all and that it is not just something "about" them but not really to do with them IYKWIM.
HTH

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