Different schools adapt different strategies and formats to ease the burden, thus trying to negate various grumblings:
It takes me almost an hour to write, yet it only takes the parent 5 minutes to read it…if indeed they read it at all.
I remember my time as a Deputy Headteacher, whereby one of my roles was to proof-read and help edit the reports written by members of staff. SPaG errors appeared on a regular basis but luckily, the amount of times an errant teacher simply copied and pasted text, inadvertently changing the gender of their child diminished over time. It was always a genuine pleasure to read reports written by teachers who knew their children so well, including their quirks, foibles and idiosyncrasies.
My own strategy as a teacher when writing reports was simple:
- Remember the intended audience and write for the parent/carer;
- Set targets that are achievable and encourage home involvement in ensuring success;
- Show that you really know the child.
In order to achieve the latter, I ‘cheated’ somewhat, or rather I attempted to be creative. I used to give each child a blank template of the school’s agreed End of Year Report and ask them to write their own report, reflecting on what they had achieved. The older children were allowed to complete their templates using Word…with the designated font, size and spacing of course!
What they wrote backed up what I already knew in the main, but there were always a few surprises thrown into the mix, whether they related to enjoyment, confidence and attitude or indeed what events were memorable to them as individuals. By including direct quotes from the children, I was able to demonstrate that the reports were both honest and accurate. As to using the older children’s work, I was able to copy and paste these comments and reflections directly into the actual report.
I am sure that this approach will have been used elsewhere, but thought I would share my own experiences. For further ideas, check out the link to TES and let me know how you get on…
Image Rights: Jim Benton Cartoons.