Summing up a pupil’s performance over a year in a two-page report may seem a tough task for a teacher who is new to report writing. Doing so in a fair, accurate and personal way for 30 pupils can be daunting.
Bridget Ballance, a new teacher at Elston Hall Primary in Wolverhampton, teaches a class of 28. She spent three hours on her first report, but once she got into the swing of it the process became quicker. She has written 12 so far this year and now they are only taking about 45 minutes each to complete.
Nevertheless, she advises new teachers to start writing their reports as early as possible and not to write more than three a night. “They can be time consuming and it’s only fair for the child that you give your attention to them,” she says.
Keeping a file throughout the year and recording information about pupils at regular intervals can make recalling details for the reports much easier, advises James Williams, a lecturer in science education at the University of Sussex. This can be done using a spreadsheet that records the results of tests and other exercises. Copies of the pupils’ best work can also be added to the file.
As well as making it easier to recall how pupils have progressed, this system is likely to make reports much more personal and meaningful to the parent and child.
When it came to writing her first reports, Bridget asked an experienced teacher for three examples of previous reports, one for a high-achiever, one for an average pupil and one for a lower-ability child. “This was helpful as it gave me a bank of useful phrases to call upon if I was struggling to think of appropriate wording,” she says.
When benchmarking pupils, remember that saying a pupil is high-ability is a relative statement, says James. “Refer to what the pupil is being benchmarked against - be it national curriculum levels, the rest of the class or the whole year group.”
You might say: “Simon is working well in his science classes. He is regularly producing level 4 work and, in relation to the class, he is in the top third of pupils,” he suggests.
Bridget tends to follow the same format for each report. For each subject she comments on her pupils’ progress throughout the year and attempts to highlight an instance in which they have performed well. She then suggests something they can improve on.
REPORT WRITING IN A NUTSHELL
- Start as early as possible. Your first reports could take some time to write.
- Keep a file in which you document the progress and achievements of each pupil, ready to call upon when writing reports.
- Look at old reports written by colleagues.
- Keep the wording clear and simple.
USEFUL FREE REPORT WRITING RESOURCES FROM TES RESOURCES
Levelled report writing statement bank
Word document of report writing statements for Early years linked to FSP
Comments for report writing
For use with KS1 pupils
Report comments for primary QCA units
Comments for use with free Teacher Report Writer software
Report comments for early years
Two banks of report comments that relate to the EYFS outcome indicators (in parent friendly form)
Standard report comments
Originally developed for business studies but suitable for any subject
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