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School reports - what they tell you

School reports form part of our personal histories as we tuck them away keeping a record of our child’s achievements and progress through their school career. We may even look back on our own reports to see where our teachers’ assessments of us were right and wrong.

They also play a key part in keeping the home/school lines of communication clear and open, and are a way for schools to connect with the entire parent community.

We look at what parents are entitled to when it comes to being kept informed about how their child is doing at school, and what the requirements are on schools to provide these annual updates. There may be broad relevance to all schools in England, since independent schools generally supply parents with end-of-year reports, but this guidance is based on the Department for Education’s requirements that every state-funded school (including special schools) must prepare annual reports for every pupil’s parents.

When can parents expect to receive the annual report?

The report must be available to you before the end of the summer term.

Can parents discuss their child’s report with anyone at school?

If you have specific concerns or queries arising out of your child’s report and would like to speak to somebody, then the head teacher must make arrangements for you to discuss the report with your child’s teacher or form teacher.

What is covered in the report?

There are no strict guidelines, but the report must cover the entirety of one academic year, including:

  • General progress
  • Brief particulars of achievements, highlighting strengths and development needs
  • How to arrange a discussion about the report with a teacher at the school
  • Attendance record

For pupils in Years 10 and 11, the report must include the above plus:

  • Grade achieved in chosen GCSE subjects
  • Any other qualification and grade achieved.

If a national curriculum test result is not received by a head teacher before the end of the summer term it must be provided to parents within 15 school days of the head teacher receiving it.

What if my child joined a new school part-way through the academic year?

There is no change. The school your child currently attends must provide you with an annual report before the end of the academic year, and you are entitled to discuss it with your child’s teacher if you wish.

What if my child is registered at more than one school?

This may be the case for parents who travel for work or who have no fixed abode. In this instance, the head teacher at all schools your child attends should provide you with an annual report. You are entitled to discuss the report with a teacher at any or all of the schools if you wish.

Report for school leavers

The school must provide parents a report once they have reached the age or academic stage of leaving the school. It should contain the same details as specified earlier. The report must be delivered no later than 30th September of the year the pupil has left the school.

What are the criticisms of annual school reports?

Some people feel that the school report is now old-fashioned, and doesn’t meet the expectations of parents in the instant-feedback age who may wish to know how their child is getting on at school more frequently, and in digital format.

Other parents prefer the more personal touch of handwritten reports, which precludes the option for teachers to copy and paste generic feedback from "comment banks".

Some feel reports focus too much on the positive and shy away from constructive criticism, and from offering areas where development is needed.

Reviewed: February 2018

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