Fake Headteacher: Report Writing – Newsletter No.12

Dear Staff,

Just a reminder that your reports were due in last Monday. So far, I have only received four sets. I appreciate I emailed the new report template three weeks late and that only left you two weeks to write them (including half term), but I think this was sufficient time to write them on top of your stressful workload.

I am very proud of my new report template. You will have noticed that each report is now six pages long – nearly double the length of last year. To make it easier, I have added a tick chart for core subjects to show how pupils are progressing etc. This is more than enough to tell a parent about their child’s effort and attainment but please could you also write a lengthy comment repeating the same information already highlighted in the tick chart. You will probably feel you are saying the same thing but that’s alright. I am sure it won’t take long.

I was surprised that many of you claim it takes between 20-40 hours to write a set of reports. With my new changes to the template, you should be able to complete them in one weekend. After all, each report is only 1,000 words. You all wrote a dissertation at University so it should be easy to fit this in around your existing workload. I am sure your family won’t mind. You could probably start them at 9pm every night for a few hours. Don’t forget, you can also spend weekends writing them too. For those of you who have your own children, put DVDs on for them so you can work. Even better, get your partner to look after them all day.

Just remember that parents will appreciate your dedication and understand the personal sacrifice you make to write them. They will read the report over and over again and write a long comment back to you on the ‘parent comment slip’. They will appreciate your effort and thank you multiple times over subsequent weeks. Although last year, we only received one slip back which was disappointing. Hopefully with the new lengthy report, we might get a few more back this year.

I know many of you have worked really hard to create a positive mind-set culture in your classroom – especially with your more challenging and vulnerable pupils. However, please make sure you make it very clear that many of them are ‘working below national standards’ at the top of each comment box. This will boost their self-esteem and motivate them to work harder next time. They have probably worked their socks off for you and have made excellent progress. Still, make sure they realise they are not as bright as the rest of the country.

Many of you have pupils whose behaviour can be extreme with unsupportive parents. However, to avoid further problems with parents, make sure you find lots of positives to write in the report. Twist comments so they are ambiguous and can be read positively if needed. It will probably take you hours composing these comments but it’s worth it. I want all parents to be happy. Happy reports equal happy ofsted parent comments.

Please don’t copy and paste. If you do, only do it once or twice. What if a parent reads another child’s report? I know your pupils attend the same lessons all year and make the same progress generally but somehow, write a completely different comment. It should almost read like they were in different classes. Parent won’t understand that the same comment for handwriting, for multiple pupils, is completely sufficient. Many won’t even notice.

Many of you claim writing reports leaves you feeling exhausted and very stressed because of the time and effort it demands. However, there is absolutely no excuse to make the odd mistake e.g. he instead of she, his instead of her etc. Please proof read your reports over and over again. I know it takes hours and it is painstakingly boring but you must find time.

Also, once you have completed your reports, you will need to spend a few more hours adjusting all the text boxes because they have moved. I didn’t know how to ‘fix’ them so they will move all over the place. Sorry. Then spend hours changing the font size to fit inside the boxes. Then change the spelling mistake I made on one of the subheadings. Sorry.

Once I have read your reports, I will give them back to you to re-write. I am quite particular about how I want them written. I have particular grammatical bug bears. I probably should have given you one I wrote myself so you get a good ‘feel’ for how I want them written. Sorry. But I am sure you can find time to re-write them days before they are due to go out.

During lesson observation week starting next Monday, could you find time for children to write their own report comment. Please mark them and ask them to write them up neatly multiple times because they will make mistakes.  If you are lucky enough to have a TA, ask them to photocopy the comments onto the reports.  It’s good to have written evidence that your class have enjoyed their year. Please remove any negative comments regardless of how honest they are.

Pupils love writing report comments. It’s a bit like how excited you feel when you have to complete an evaluation form at the end of a course. You love it. Pupils love it too. Just be aware that they often contradict what you have already said. For example, last year many of you wrote ‘they enjoyed the Romans topic’. But on their comment slip, they said ‘I thought the Roman topic was boring.’

I am surprised that you all seem very stressed and on your knees at the moment. Surely report writing can’t be that bad? I am sure your planning, marking and outstanding lessons have continued to take place during report writing time? I am sure your lessons have not been affected? This is why I am carrying out lesson observations next week.

For those of you who have handed in your reports on time, please check your pigeon holes where you will find your returned, annotated reports for you to amend. For those of you who have not completed them on time because of family commitments, I will be on your case this week.

After you have handed in your reports and they have been given out to parents, I might thank you for working so very hard. I might not. I usually forget.

Fake Headteacher

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