School report writing: an ultimate guide with examples
Report writing season is perhaps one of the most stressful periods known by teachers. While receiving end of year reports is something parents and pupils look forward to.
Writing a report is a very complex task to undertake. It is not just about summing up students’ strengths and weaknesses. Teachers are having to report good and bad results in a way that is sensitive and tactful, yet direct and honest enough for it to be effective. Each word must be carefully weighed and used to convey clear messages to parents and students.
An optimal report that is going to be presented to school leaders and parents should be balanced in tone and must speak to two different types of audience: the parents and the students.
As described in the article by Impact, the journal of the Chartered College of Teaching:
“School reports are an enduring feature of the education landscape. They form part of our personal history, fondly retained by parents well beyond a child’s school leaving age. The Department for Education requires schools in England to report to parents annually (Department for Education, 2015). There is widespread variation in reporting practice, and many schools are doing more than is legally required of them (Power and Clark, 2000). While frequent, data-focused reports are commonly used, many schools continue to write comment-based reports as part of their reporting regime. As students move into secondary school, reports of their day-to-day learning can become less forthcoming from the students themselves and reports become one of very few channels of home–school communication.”
So, how can teachers respond to the challenges and manage frequent reporting to parents, combine verbal comments with numeric data, and maintain consistency in reporting throughout the school?
This post will look at best practices for writing school reports and effectively sharing them with parents.
How to write primary school reports to parents
When writing reports on primary school pupils, who are younger and likely more emotionally vulnerable, teachers need to adopt a tone and language that considers their vulnerability (while the report is addressed to the parent, the child will often read it or have it explained to them).
Educators are aware of the more prolonged impact that the report could have, be this positive or negative, and how this could shape the child’s attitude and personality. For instance, if the report is excessively critical, in a non-constructive way, the child it is meant for, could feel discouraged and not appreciated. On the other end, if the report is too enthusiastic and full of praise, the child could react by applying less effort into academic tasks and become accustomed to easy results.
With little in the way of external assessments at present, when measuring primary pupils’ performance, teachers must rely on internal assessments, behavioural and attendance patterns, and general attitude to learning.
They must invest time in getting to know each pupil, as best as possible, to determine abilities and needs for support.
Here are some examples of how Bromcom can help with Primary School Reports:
Let’s face it, report-writing can be time-consuming and can often take longer than planned, which causes teachers undue stress and pressure for fear of missing deadlines.
To prevent this from happening, teachers must be methodical and organised in their approach to report work.
First and foremost, they should learn, familiarise, and keep up to date with school’s report system in use, the technology available to them, and consult previous reports or examples. Planning in advance is always the best method.
Throughout the year, attendance and behaviour records will be tracked and logged, so these can be easily leveraged and referred to for completing the end of the year report.
Bromcom has created a powerful Cloud-MIS for Primary Schools that includes a tool called Primary Tracker.
Teachers can use the Primary Tracker to run Summative and Formative Assessment, Early Years Foundation Stage and record Test Scores. Built-in mark sheets have been designed to reduce teachers’ time in entering data and give them immediate feedback by using colour-coding to indicate the level each student is working at.
Intuitive analytics tools give insight into how groups of students perform against their age-related expectations across a range of subjects and assessment points. Teachers can examine student progress from one assessment point to another, investigate the difference in results between different groups, and view assessment results.
A formative statement analysis permits teachers to analyse pupils’ performance against curriculum statements and detect students who may fall behind.
A defined and speedy assessment strategy will aid report writing
With Bromcom MIS, the production of Primary School Reports can be automated and shared at a set time, on a given date. Reports run at regular intervals throughout the year, can then be used to inform the end of year report.
Viewing and referencing previous reports is easily performed within the integrated document management system, which teachers can access whenever they need to.
However, a substantial end of year report cannot just be based on collating records and banks of documents showcasing performance results. It should aim to portray a full and solid picture of the child teachers are writing about. For achieving this, teachers must use all the information available to them on their pupils.
Much of this information is only obtainable through good interpersonal relations between teachers, students and parents. A lot can be learned about a child through communicating with his or her parents, and not just that…
Through communication with families, teachers will also gain insight into how feedback is received and expressed, which will come in very handy when comments on school reports are written, because it will give teachers an idea of the most effective and appropriate tone to adopt.
Moreover, if parents have been regularly kept up to date with their children progress, they are less likely to react with surprise when receiving the final report and ask for further explanation from the school. Through the course of the year, frequent communication with parents must be kept.
Because Bromcom understands how important regular teacher-parent communications are and how these will aid report writing, the MIS includes a dedicated parent portal: MyChildAtSchool (MCAS).
How to write secondary school reports to parents
The same principles described above also apply to secondary schools, although the grading system and assessment tasks vary.
Another consideration to make is the age and experience of the students; they are more familiar with being assessed and receiving reports. This is not to say that teachers writing secondary school reports should be less sensitive, but they can afford to be more explicit and refer to exam results and internal assessments.
Grades are reported at the national level and appear on league tables, which the school publishes to showcase its students’ performance. Schools are often chosen by parents according to their performance on national league tables.
Here are some examples of how Bromcom can help with secondary school reports:
Bromcom’s Cloud-MIS for Secondary Schools also includes options for automating and scheduling regular reports.
As with the Primary School MIS, it integrates with MyChildAtSchool our Parental App, facilitating communication and report sharing with parents.
The latest school census data, published at the end of 2020, sees Bromcom confirm its place for the third consecutive year as the first choice of Cloud MIS provider for secondary schools across England and Wales).
Hasmonean High School in North London offers a great example of how schools can use Bromcom’s Assessment tools to easily, quickly and efficiently collect and store students’ assessment grades, marks, comments and other data that can serve to inform reports.
When asked how Bromcom had helped , Mr Oskis, the assistant data manager, said that the MIS was impressively useful for
“Generating parental reports which has been a huge help for us.”,
and added: “(I) Highly recommend the Assessment (Tool) because of its flexibility and the way that it caters specifically to the school’s needs, instead of following a strict structure.”
Would you like to know more about how we can help manage assessment?
This post’s intention was to provide some basic tips that may guide you when starting to write a school report. However, Bromcom can do so much more to help organise all your school’s data, including managing finances and supporting school improvement.
You can find more detailed information and explore all our tools on our website. And if you’d like to know more about us, just drop us a line or call us , we are always happy to help.
18 January 2021 / Liza Adebisi