One of the most time-consuming tasks that teachers have to complete is the writing of children’s annual reports.
A few years ago we started sending these home in the middle of the spring term, with two thoughts in mind: the reports could be more developmental, with targets that could be meaningful for parents and children; and the fact that teachers are so tired by the end of the summer term that writing a full set of class reports was a massive challenge.
At the end of the 2016-17 school year we decided to look again at report writing. Even though we had moved the reports and reduced their length, it was still an overwhelmingly time consuming task, with the spring half term holiday and many weekends and evenings in the run up to the deadline being totally devoted to writing reports. As well as being detrimental to wellbeing, it also made it more the day-to-day business of teaching more difficult.
A self-selected group of teachers met with me to look at how we could change things. We started by looking at the statutory contents of school reports. The table below is a summary – the full detail can be found here:
|Information that must be reported||Year 2 (end of KS1)||Year 6 (end of KS2)||Year 7, 8 and 9 (KS3)||Year 10 and 11 (KS4)|
|Brief particulars of achievements, highlighting strengths and developmental needs||x||x||x||x|
|How to arrange a discussion about the report with a teacher at the school||x||x||x||x|
|The grade achieved in subjects for which the pupil was entered for GCSE||x|
|Any other qualification, or unit towards a qualification, and the grade achieved||x|
You may include additional information about a pupil’s progress, beyond the minimum required.
We decided to trial a different approach that would still mean we were obeying the law, and would give parents the information they need to help support their children. This is what we decided to do:
- Send home a short report in the autumn and spring term, with tick boxes to show parents how well their child is getting on in the core subjects, and how hard they are trying at school. We will send home attendance certificates with the summer term reports. These reports are sent out the week before parents’ evening so that any concerns or clarification can be given face-to-face. We have allocated staff meeting time for these to be completed.
- Send home a longer report in the spring term, using the same tick boxes as the short reports, and also include a paragraph that describes the child’s ‘general progress’ and gives ‘Brief particulars of achievements, highlighting strengths and developmental needs’. We will also include a target with this report, but want to make sure that this is something the parent can actually help with, like reading at home more regularly. We have allocated a non-pupil day at the end of the spring half term for these to be written.
- Use SeeSaw, an online platform that allows us to take and share photos and videos of children’s work, especially where they have made great progress or created something special. With a bit of training the children are able to take control of this themselves, and are already asking if they can add things that they are proud of to their SeeSaw page. Parents will be given a login when we send out the spring term reports, giving us time to populate this. This will give them more of an insight into what their children have been doing and learning at school.
- Invite parents in at the end of every half term to look at their children’s books. This happens straight after school, and is scheduled instead of one of our weekly staff meetings.
We hope that these practical measures will allow parents to have a really good understanding of how well their children are doing at school, and allow us to continue the positive partnership and excellent relationships that we enjoy. We also hope that our teachers will see a reduction in their workload, which is a critical part of improving wellbeing.