Annual reporting to parents – our approach

Having shared our annual report template with a few interested teachers, I thought it was worth sharing the main template more widely. If you’re not interested in reading about it, then feel free to scroll to the bottom just to download the template… I’ll never know 🙂

It’s always struck me as odd that we seem to have contradictory wisdom about the main forms of report to parents. New teachers are always told that there should be “no surprises” at a parents evening. If children are falling behind, or misbehaving, or perhaps failing to complete homework, then parents should already know this rather than finding out in their 10-minute slot.

Why is it then, so many seem to presume the opposite for report-writing, as though parents know nothing of their child’s learning and so need everything spelling out in detail? In truth, most parents receive broadly similar reports year after year, because children don’t change that much.

The need to fill extra lines of content means either repeating the banal detail of what has been taught (regardless of how well it has been learned), or of trying to find minutiae to discuss.

So, when it came to re-working the report template for my current school, I had a few things in mind:

  • I wanted to minimise the amount teachers have to write, while leaving room for comments about the important personal & social detail (the bit parents are really interested in!)
  • I wanted to be clear about where children met – or failed to meet – expectations, and to set clear expectations for excellence.
  • I wanted to give an opportunity to reflect on attainment in all subjects.

So, our report is made up of a number of sections (after the introductory statement):


comment

This is clearly the most important part of the report, not least because this is the section memories are made of. In my school I do ask teachers to write a comment which incorporates the personal/social elements as well as some reference to attainment in the key subjects of English & Maths. It’s also the place to add in detail about any particular skill or expertise in other subject areas.
The whole box takes up to 10 lines – roughly 180 words max.


subject

The subject attainment section is very brief in terms of outcomes, but quite clear for parents. I’m not a fan of the vocabulary of ‘Greater Depth’, but given its use in the statutory assessments, it seems to make sense to use it consistently across the school. Invariably these descriptors are not a great surprise to parents (mine, for example, were never going to expect me to achieve great things in PE!), but where they do highlight something, then parents can of course raise that at the open afternoon that follows shortly after reports are issued.


pre

This section is something I brought with me from a previous school, and we had taken the idea from another school – so if your Nottinghamshire school was the originator, do let me know!
I like it because it’s a clear at-a-glance indicator of key areas of interest, including attendance which can sometimes come as a surprise to parents. I also like the clarity that “Good” is good, but that to be exceptional is, well, exceptional.


end

There is no doubt that adding a pupil comment creates additional work. I like to keep it as much because I think it’s something for pupils and families to look back on in years to come as it is an insight into their current achievements. It’s also a useful reflective opportunity for older pupils. (Pupils don’t see the rest of the report first; juniors type their entries and they get added electronically; infants write on smaller sheets of paper which are pasted in to the template – achievable in a 1fe school).

As for the targets, I don’t expect anything in-depth or insightful. For most children’s it’s at least one English and one maths target, often linked to key skills that can be practised at home, such as number bonds, key word spellings or regular reading. There might also be a personal/social target if appropriate, or behaviour in some cases. As I say to my staff, though, sometimes it’s also appropriate to put a target that just says “keep up the great work!”


htcomm

I do manage a headteacher comment for every pupil, but as we only have 200 that’s perhaps more manageable than in some schools. (I haven’t pointed out to my staff that this means I actually write more for reports than any one teacher; I’m not sure the point would go down to well given all the other demands on them!)


Presenting the report

I’m always conscious that school reports are often kept for years, if not generations, and try to present them accordingly. Our template is set up as a 4-page document, which we print onto A3 white card and fold into A4 size. The front cover consists mainly of the large (attractive) logo and pupil name, and the back cover is pretty blank, but I think it makes the whole thing look a whole lot nicer.

As a school, we also currently track Key Performance Indicators in key subjects across the year, and so printed those out to accompany the report last year. I may take soundings from parents this year to see if they value that level of detail; I’m not clear that they would.

I also include a covering letter with reply slip. In theory this helps us to track receipt, but more importantly I hope it gives parents an opportunity to send positive responses and thanks to teachers which they might not otherwise have the opportunity to convey. I still keep some report reply slips from my teaching days – and I ditch others!


The Template

Well done if you read this far. No credit if you just skipped my words of wisdom. I have stripped out the school-specific content from the template (logos, etc.) and uploaded a version here which you are welcome to download, adopt, edit and re-share as you wish. No need to add any credit on the report (it’d look odd for a start!), but I’d be glad to hear if you found it useful.

Okay, I’ll stop… just download the Report Template!

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13 thoughts on “Annual reporting to parents – our approach

  1. Vicky 24 April 2019 at 9:10 pm Reply

    Many thanks for this blog Michael, very useful as always and I did read the whole thing! I will definitely be using parts of your template, in our current report format. We meet with our parents regularly throughout the year, 5 times in fact and I definitely think we are not utilising that enough when it then comes to the end of year report.

  2. Julian Thomas 24 April 2019 at 9:33 pm Reply

    Very similar to mine that I shared online a couple of years ago…? I can see lots of common boxes.
    Well done for sharing! 🙂

  3. Eyfs teacher 25 April 2019 at 3:10 am Reply

    Is your EYFS report similar?

    • Michael Tidd 25 April 2019 at 6:09 am Reply

      Yes, I should have mentioned that. The only difference is the the subject attainment section is replaced by the 17 areas and their EEE judgements

  4. Helen King 25 April 2019 at 10:01 am Reply

    Also dislike ‘Greater Depth’ as a definition but feel it’s applicable for your production of this most sensible yet informative report format! Teachers would not find this onerous to complete and parents would understand the facts presented so simply and succinctly.
    All (!) I need to do now is convince my school to adopt it!

  5. bobbypin2 26 April 2019 at 12:09 pm Reply

    Now this may be nitpicking, and as a Scottish teacher I feel I have very different perspectives than the English system, but hear me out. Now I’m sure that the general statement box was just an example and not an authentic one, but I have to say I got caught up on the “delight to work with” expression that is rife is academic reports. We are teachers, whether or not we enjoy working with a pupil has nothing to do with that child’s report of academic progress. There are plenty of children I enjoy working with, just like there are colleagues I enjoy working with, but I’m not sure that my personal enjoyment should ever feature in a statement of THEIR progress. Secondly, when it comes to behaviour expectations, I’m not sure if “Occasionally misses learning opportunities due to behaviour” is a constructive way of looking at it. Not only does “behaviour”, which is a very broad term, present millions of valuable learning opportunities, including those relating to social and emotional development that feature in the curriculum. Should we come up with a box for explaining how behaviour challenges have also contributed to this child’s development, as they have had to grapple with these challenges and hopefully get through them? And I wonder why meeting expectations isn’t enough for a child to be a role model? If they meet the expectations are they not modelling good behaviour for those who are not yet? If children need to be reported on exceeding expectations, surely the expectations should be higher for that particular child rather than set the bar lower?

  6. paulmartin42 26 April 2019 at 3:54 pm Reply

    My mother recently gave me my report from 1964. “RE Best subject” was the only notable comment” – no more than 50 or so handwritten letters on the a5 sheet.

    But that was more than the secondary reports I received from one Scottish school for my kids. But to be fair we did turn up at Parents Nights to see what was going on.

    In passing there is much debate up here about what went wrong in CfE (Curriculum for Excellence) – currently being deployed in Wales. As you say the kids are essentially the same, the difference is invisible civil servants responding to meddling politicians who have limited input data – mainly from dis-satisfied zealots. The problem is that parents with their kids at good schools are not so vocal for fear of overwhelming their staff.

  7. S 2 May 2019 at 10:16 pm Reply

    I don’t suppose you have the accompanying letter too?

  8. Pauline 5 May 2019 at 3:53 pm Reply

    I like the format. We do something similar but instead of the teacher comment we write a letter to the child. This does create extra work compared to your format but the parents and children love it as it us so personal. It also allows the teachers to reflect in a slightly different way. That our children all have SEND makes it all the more special I think. Thank you for sharing Pauline

  9. julietgreen 2 June 2019 at 5:57 pm Reply

    Very sensible and clear. Of course. And too late for me. 🙂

  10. Louise 3 June 2019 at 11:08 pm Reply

    Many thanks for this Michael – it’s great. I’ve adapted your template and I’m trialling it with my class this term before, potentially, using it across school. Question: which print settings do you use? I’ve tried every which way and can’t get it right. Many thanks – Louise

    • Michael Tidd 3 June 2019 at 11:14 pm Reply

      Hi Louise,
      We’re fortunate that our photocopier has a “booklet” setting, so I just choose A3 and the booklet option to print it.
      That’s probably not much help to you if yours doesn’t have that capability, sorry! If it will let you combine images on double sided, then you may be able to achieve it by printing pages in the order 4, 1, 2, 3.

      • Louise 4 June 2019 at 10:58 pm Reply

        Fantastic – many thanks. I’ll give it a go 😊

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