It’s report writing season! Some of you very organised teachers may have already finished your reports (particularly if your school has an early deadline). However, for those of you who are still working their way through them, or yet to make a start, don’t panic!
I may be a bit odd in this respect, but I actually quite enjoyed report writing. Granted, I didn’t enjoy proof reading those 30 reports for spelling and grammar errors! But I relished in the opportunity to share lots of positive things about my pupils with their parents, and to reflect on pupil achievements over the year. With that in mind, as well as the top ten tips in this post, I recommend trying to view report writing as a positive experience. Although reports can be incredibly time-consuming dependent on our school’s template, they have to be completed, and if you look on the bright side of the process isn’t that far more motivating than just trying to plow through?
Although, each school has its own report format, try not to let that hold you back from putting your own personal spin on your reports. The whole process will be much easier and more satisfying if you use a style that works for you and incorporates what YOU want to say.
Ten tips for report writing
- Read colleague reports
Especially if this is your first-time writing reports. Having a look at reports from others gives you some ideas of where to start, how to share more difficult information and much more. Look at a variety of reports if you can, to give you as much inspiration as possible.
- Find a schedule that works for you
I’ve met many teachers who like very different report writing schedules. From the teacher who writes them throughout the year to the teacher who writes them all in one day. That’s why you need a schedule that works for you. Personally, I liked completing the bulk of my report writing during May half term. Then when I returned to school I would find some time to edit and update them as needed.
To help you come up with the best schedule think about the following…
- Would you prefer to write your reports at home or in school?
- Do you benefit from deadline pressures or prefer more time to complete tasks?
- What else is happening in school that you may need to work around?
- What writing order would work best for you? (e.g. Do you want to start with the reports that are going to be harder to write?)
- What might distract you and how can you limit this?
- Have you given yourself enough time?
- Is your school giving you any dedicated report writing time? How can you use this best?
- Make a list of the key points you want to make for each pupil
Before beginning each child’s report make a quick bullet point list of some key things you want to mention e.g. special achievements, key skills and areas for concern. That way when you write the report you ensure you don’t leave out anything important that you wanted to mention. Additionally, if you are struggling to start your reports you already have your talking points ready.
- Have resources at the ready
When it comes to report writing, it’s easy for your mind to go blank. To combat this, have pupil work, photos and videos from key events in the year close by to refer to. This will not only jog your memory but give you specific information you can refer to in your reports, making them more personal.
- Focus on the positives
Yes, you will need to mention areas for concern and that’s important, but make the positives your focus. It’s also beneficial, to start with the positives and lead into areas of improvement rather than vice versa.
- Be honest but tactful
This is one of the trickiest parts of writing a report but one of the most important too. If a child in your class is really far behind in all their learning, you need to make that clear. You can’t leave out the negatives, you just need to word them in a constructive and tactful way. This is where you combat the tricky news with your positive focus, and you let parents know what you are doing to support their child and how they can help.
- Write a section to the child
Writing a section to the child (even just a sentence), makes report writing far more enjoyable, personal and purposeful. Yes, these reports are used to communicate information with parents but the reason that information is shared is for the benefit of their child. Its also a really nice opportunity to write a personal ‘well done’ to each of your pupils, giving them some confidence transitioning into the next academic year.
- Read the report as a parent
Consider if the report is readable for a parent. Is the language too technical? Is the report informative? Could certain aspects be worded more appropriately?
- Get a colleague to proof-read
No matter, how many times you read your reports you will miss that same typo every time. When you know what you meant to write, that’s often what you see on the page. If you can, swap reports with a colleague and proofread each other’s. This way minor errors are more easily picked up.
Keep hold of information such as targets or key phrases and vocabulary you used in your reports for next year. This can be a real time saver. You can still keep your reports personal, but say for example, last year you had a pupil who was very disruptive in all their lessons and you had to write about this in a tactful way, whatever phrasing you used could come in really handy for a very disruptive pupil in this year’s class. N.B. Be careful what information you keep and how according to your school’s GDPR policy.