Long school re­ports ‘in­cred­i­bly bur­den­some’ for teach­ers

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front page - By Ed­ward Mal­nick

LENGTHY school re­ports are prov­ing to be “in­cred­i­bly bur­den­some” for teach­ers and should be re­placed with shorter ver­sions, govern­ment ad­vis­ers have con­cluded.

A re­view com­mis­sioned by Damian Hinds, the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, found “lim­ited ev­i­dence” for the ben­e­fits of progress re­ports that go be­yond the “rel­a­tively lean” ba­sic re­quire­ments im­posed on schools.

It also sug­gested ex­pand­ing the use of “au­to­matic re­port­ing” to par­ents, which is used by some schools to flag up a child’s ab­sence.

Mr Hinds’s depart­ment has pledged to re­view na­tional guid­ance on school re­ports, sug­gest­ing it could be al­tered to warn teach­ers against send­ing long up­dates to par­ents and guardians. How­ever, the move risks an­ger­ing par­ents.

In re­cent years, re­ports have been crit­i­cised by both par­ents and teach­ers for be­ing “im­per­sonal” and even “robotic”.

The re­view by the Teacher Work­load Ad­vi­sory Group, which com­prises sev­eral head teach­ers along­side White­hall and trade union of­fi­cials, recog­nised that parental in­volve­ment was “con­sis­tently as­so­ci­ated with bet­ter pupil per­for­mance”.

How­ever, it stated that the le­gal duty on schools was sim­ply to re­port to par­ents “on gen­eral progress, the brief par­tic­u­lars of achieve­ments … how to ar­range dis­cus­sions about the re­port, the at­ten­dance record, and grade[s].”

The re­view added: “Some schools have, how­ever, adopted prac­tices that

are in­cred­i­bly bur­den­some for teach­ers, which go be­yond their statu­tory du­ties, with­out proven ben­e­fits for pupils.” It said there was “in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence” to sug­gest that this was “the best or only way to en­gage par­ents and car­ers in ed­u­ca­tion”.

“Schools should re­mem­ber that the statu­tory du­ties on what schools must re­port to par­ents and car­ers are rel­a­tively lean, and that there is lim­ited ev­i­dence of im­pact for pro­duc­ing writ­ten re­ports that go be­yond these,” the re­port stated.

The panel, chaired by Becky Allen, di­rec­tor of Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don’s Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion Im­prove­ment Science, said schools should re­view their re­ports to in­form par­ents and car­ers of their child’s per­for­mance “in a way that is man­age­able for teach­ers.”

The 18-strong panel also in­cluded four se­nior civil ser­vants, in­clud­ing the ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor of Of­sted, five head teach­ers, and the heads of the As­so­ci­a­tion of School and Col­lege Lead­ers and Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Head Teach­ers. The re­port cited the net­work of Ark acad­e­mies as an ex­am­ple of in­sti­tu­tions that have re­lieved pres­sure on teach­ers by send­ing au­to­matic no­ti­fi­ca­tions to par­ents whose chil­dren were ab­sent.

It said: “In one school, this re­placed a pa­per-based process re­quir­ing in­put of

‘The statu­tory du­ties on what schools must re­port to par­ents and car­ers are rel­a­tively lean’

five mem­bers of staff which took the equiv­a­lent of an en­tire school day.”

Ber­nadette John, the di­rec­tor of the Good Schools Guide, said that while the ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tants of­ten heard “com­plaints about com­puter gen­er­ated school re­ports and ‘cut and paste’ jobs”, a well-writ­ten school re­port could “give a clear in­di­ca­tion of a pupil’s ca­pa­bil­ity and ap­pli­ca­tion in just a few sen­tences”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.