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What do you really want in a school report?

(123 Posts)
letthembe Sun 29-May-11 20:24:12

So I am sat here, at the start of my report writing mountain, deadline is set and my 'journey' to the summit has been broken into stages. But what I want to know is what do parents really want to read in the child's end of year report?
Personally, I'm only really interested in the general comments. And I hate reports written on report assist!

MerylStrop Sun 29-May-11 20:25:26

Some indication that you actually know which one my child actually is

bigbuttons Sun 29-May-11 20:25:40

I only ever want maths English Science and are my dc's nice. The rest is drivel and a waste of time.

bigbuttons Sun 29-May-11 20:26:32

I also never ever wan to read what's been taught that's a real waste of space..

myBOYSareBONKERS Sun 29-May-11 20:30:07

What they are like personality wise as children can be very different in school to out (and some parents are very blinkered!!)

Bonsoir Sun 29-May-11 20:31:13

I want to know exactly where they are versus the curriculum and the weak spots I should work on during the holidays.

Hassled Sun 29-May-11 20:33:20

DO NOT change gender or name during the course of the report - after DS2's Yr5 debacle, that's all I really care about grin.

I suppose what I want is honesty and realism - no point saying Little Jimmy needs to put his hand up more and answer questions if you and the parents both know LJ is crippled with shyness. Constructive criticism is good - but the place to tell a parent their child is a disruptive nightmare probably isn't in the report.

I care much less about all the cut and paste "X has enjoyed the Rainforest project and used his knowledge to take part in the drama activity" bollocks - I already know that, and I know it will be in everyone's report. I want to know if X did well, if he tried hard, what he should work on, what he should be really proud of.

kaumana Sun 29-May-11 20:39:31

I agree with the PPs points re going over what has been taught in the class and report assist. Very boring and we already know.

Strengths and weaknesses in the core subjects are good to know.

mungogerry Sun 29-May-11 21:02:10

Most parents will know how their child is doing academically if the school is half decent at communication, but of course I am looking that they have made sound progress.

More than this it is really an overall summary of "who they are" when I am not present, where they excel and any issues (gently worded) that will need to be worked on for the future.

I want to know how they fitted into your classroom community, how they interacted with thier peers and the adults around them, did they make a positive contribution. I like to hopefully (hopefully) that they have had a happy year, they are polite, honest and well behaved. It is also nice to hear that they are kind, popular and that you enjoy teaching them (if it is true obviously). These are the bits that mean the most to the parent and the child, the personal bits I guess.

I value these things, as I know what a massive sense of worth and achievement they bring to my children when "their teacher thinks so highly of them to write such lovely things".

mungogerry Sun 29-May-11 21:03:58

*sorry for repeats/jumps doing 2 things at once (badly)

letthembe Sun 29-May-11 21:32:53

So how is this for a general comment:

is a very likeable child with a small, but extremely strong and supportive, network of friends; * gains of a lot of positives from this group especially when * has been faced by challenges. I have become very aware that is quite a shy character and doesn't like to be in the spotlight, this is also reflected in * lack of confidence. Unfortunately, there have been a few incident throughout the year where has not shown the right positive attitude to his work or to members of staff. However, with the continued support of home and school, I am sure the recent progress in 's behaviour and ability to take responsibilty for actions will continue to into year * . I have enjoyed teaching *, especially when he shares his sharp sense of humour.

Too negative?
I have been in an area of socio economic deprivation, not even sure if reports were read, but we were always told to be truthful. Now, in a very green leafy suburb and in need of your opinion.

letthembe Sun 29-May-11 21:33:18

Whoops - that wasn't meant to be bold.

kaumana Sun 29-May-11 22:02:45

I would show examples as in

I have become very aware that * is quite a shy character and doesn't like to be in the spotlight,

While doing our Tropical Animal project * was uncomfortable speaking in front of his classmates this could be helped by * practising reading aloud at home.

TBH, that's possibly the most honest report I have ever seen and I mean that in a good way.

Hassled Sun 29-May-11 22:08:48

I think what you've said is fine. Fair, not too harsh but you're not pissing about either - I like the "sharp sense of humour" bit. You clearly like him, but he needs to sort some stuff out - which is what parents need/want to hear.

RoadArt Sun 29-May-11 22:28:41

It would be good to see honesty and true observations rather than woolly comments that dont mean anything or can be interpreted negatively.

All parents look forward to receiving the reports and then so many are disallusioned because we still dont know if our children are exceeding, or behind in their subjects. Are they behind but have been progressing, or are they standing still?
One area I would like more info on is what the next learning goals/steps are? What are they striving to achieve next, in all areas, not just maths or English.
Are they sociable, do they mix well, do they participate in class. Do they finish their work everyday. Are they working to their ability or doing the bare minimum they can get away with.
Progress from where they started at the beginning to where they are at now is good.
What key areas are their strengths, weaknesses.

All this would make the report too long, but even some of it would be good.

noid Sun 29-May-11 22:51:52

I want to know:

Is his reading/writing/maths on track, behind or ahead?
Is he behaving himself?
Is he okay socially?
Is he making an effort, busting a gut or coasting?
Is he happy?

I have a thick skin. I don't want to be told "Noidberg did some fantastic mud-pie construction" but nothing about his reading. I don't want to have to guess how well he behaves, or decode euphemisms. I wouldn't mind being told "Noidberg needs to learn to sit still at carpet time" or "Noidberg constantly chats with his friends". I know nothing about what goes on in school all day and some reports are so anodyne as to be useless.

I just want to know how my children are doing within the curriculum, how they behave in class and within their peer groups and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. It's always lovely to hear of great success in something, but equally, if there are any serious issues I would hope that these have been addressed at the time with me, rather than comments in a report.

Most importantly - no cut and pastes! Once received a report for DD1 half of which was clearly referring to another child.

letthembe Sun 29-May-11 23:05:05

Thanks for your comments. I do have a good relationship with said pupil and his mum. It can be so hard wording what you need to say. I hate all that educational speak crap, even on my own DC's reports. I like writing the personal comments and the stand out moments of the year - the bits that show the child's personality and individuality.
Two down, 26 to go - I complete box then have a quick flick at MN (a relatively new obsession), make a coffee and do the next box.

blackeyedsusan Mon 30-May-11 00:29:08

I want to know:

Is his reading/writing/maths on track, behind or ahead?
Is he behaving himself?
Is he okay socially?
Is he making an effort, busting a gut or coasting?
Is he happy?

i agree! I would like to know what can be done at home/school to help little jonny/jenny improve too

I hated having to write something for each subject when i have only had the children for half a term in reception...

sending chocolate... but don't get it on the reports...

letthembe Mon 30-May-11 00:40:11

Thanks. Luckily we write comments for English, Maths (the series ones with targets) and general (personality, attitude, behaviour etc). Then another box for all the other subjects - which is about the stand out moments (negative as well as positive). Don't have to comment on everything. I've just written about a comment about one of the girl's beautiful singing. I'll mention inquisitive nature's, creativity, etc. Probably the most personalised reports I've ever done in nearly 20 years of teaching. And oh so much better than report assist.
That's it for tonight.

sleepingsowell Mon 30-May-11 00:50:34

TBH I would avoid using the word shy as it's such a label and people label themselves with it in the end if they hear it enough and that in itself contributes to losing even more confidence. I think it would be enough to say "x does not like to be in the spotlight".

elaine0810 Mon 30-May-11 12:50:52

I really want to know how my child is progresing and 'getting on great' does not cover it. I am interested in where they are in the class, beahviour, and if they are happy> Hope this helps.

curtaincall Mon 30-May-11 14:23:20

I think parents really want the truth, as well as topping and tailing with positives as you seem to have done. Give examples of how eg their lack of confidence can be helped at home (positive re-enforcement etc). Agree with sleepingsowell that shy is a label and can be self-fulfilling prophecy.

Not too general in academic stuff but mainly what are they like at school. (got a glimpse yesterday of ds at friend's party sitting on blow up chair eating and watching with interest other kids all bundling in together a few metres away before joining in himself.) Could you write something like that in report to give snapshop of the type of child they were at school?

Do they listen to instructions? (give example) Do they have leadership qualities (give example) Do they excel in any one area apart from academic (give example).

I like what you wrote about how you enjoyed teaching him - that's a vote of confidence that will reflect well on all concerned.

GOOD LUCK with the rest of the report writing - sounds like you're really trying hard (sorry if that sounds like a report phrase wink) and you could also get together with a sympathetic colleague to go over things?

HushedTones Mon 30-May-11 16:18:42

I agree - parents want the truth and not so sugar-coated that the meaning is completely hidden.
I think the paragraph per subject saying: "This term your child has been learning about the Victorians. We learnt that many toys were made out of wood and played hoop and stick in the classroom. We looked at Victorian dress and learnt about Victorian servants" is totally and utterly pointless

For one thing I don't need a brief lesson in modern History and for another, it is well and truly too late to support my DD's learning in all these things as the topic has now finished. Is it just our school that bulks out the reports with an overly detailed description of what every child has learnt in every single subject?

I'd like to know roughly how she's getting on academically. Not "DD is ranked 7th in the class for spelling" or anything like that but the sentences that say "DD is currently confident in number bonds up to 50 and now needs to concentrate on numbers upto 100" mean nothing to me because I don't know what the expectation is for a child her age so it might be good or it might be appalling and I am none the wiser.

Some truthful comments on effort and behaviour are helpful as well as even children who do well academically can be lazy / coasting. I have to say, with the format of our school reports, they really aren’t worth the paper they’re written on and all the mums blame their vagueness for the fact that parents’ evening next month will over-run by hours. Parents literally refuse to leave and pump the teacher for “proper answers” face-to-face (not us of course – we have an older child and know it’s futile!)

LynetteScavo Mon 30-May-11 16:25:10

What I don't want is "DS has covered X Y and Z this year"

What I do want is to see that you actually got to know him as a person, and what his educational strengths and weaknesses are.

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