Make your choice - do you do serious or cynical?
Serious please. I'm young, conscientious and striving to achieve my potential.
Then remember to be positive in reports. Look for evidence of progress; refer to achievement and success rather than failings of character and personality.
Be specific rather than making sweeping generalisations. Be temperate rather than emotional:this may be the 30th report of the evening for you but it's a single summary of a year in one pupil's life. Wherever possible provide suggestions for improvement or redemption rather than criticism.
Crikey, that's a lot to pack in - and pretty earnest, too. What's the cynical option?
Ah, there you'll find me at my finest, with witty, barbed comments and deflating asides. This is my chance to get my own back on Jason and Deanna after months of their work refusal and idle sneering chatter. The pen is mightier than the sword, remember.
Not so positive and temperate then?
Not a bit. Now's my chance to describe the dull, the dim and the devious; the stupid, the sinister and the stroppy.
Bring on the witless, the wet and the wilfully awkward - your time is nigh.
Your behaviour is disgraceful, dreadful and appalling, your work is non-existent and an affront to civilization. No sane employer would take you in.
Calm down. I can't say these things. Have you no sensible advice?
Sorry, I was carried away. I forgot you have a career ahead of you.
In which case, aim for euphemism and circumlocution. Use "easily distracted" for "idle toad"; "does not accept authority willingly" for "untameable troublemaker" and "inclined to daydream" for "dull and somewhat stupid".
Surely there are reporting software packages to do this for me?
Balancing generic phrases from databanks with personal comment is not easy.
But try Primary Report Writer Online from Blue Hills Software. It has national curriculum and QCA statements plus comment banks and editing tools to customise content and design. It takes pupil data from your school management system and is straightforward to use from school or from home.
I'm wary even of this Then you cannot fail with: "Competent. Has maintained a reasonable standard in the circumstances, though has potential for improvement if he applies himself to his studies."
And that means?
Can't remember who he is Duncan Grey is author of The First Aid Kit for Teachers, 100+ Essential Lists for Teachers and Getting the Buggers to Learn (Continuum)