Don't do what I did - When Mr and Miss go amiss

20th March 2009 at 00:00

End-of-year report writing is a time-consuming experience. As the only drama teacher in the school, I was faced each year with the prospect of writing more than 400 reports for key stage 3 alone.

For some unfathomable reason, my school decided to lump Year 7, 8 and 9 reports together at the end of the year. Even with the extra Year 11 time, I, like many other staff, had a mountain to climb. Thank heavens that the school had invested in sophisticated software that would mean reports could be completed on computer.

Cleverly, at least I thought, I devised a way to get through the pile - by making templates. I produced a series of six report outlines and with a quick personal comment at the end, thought I had it sussed.

Once written, I changed all the he's to she's and his to hers, and started working through my class lists. Look at the pupil, find the appropriate report and with a simple cut and paste technique, the job was done. I found that I could get through a whole class in just one free period. This was turning out to be easier than I thought.

For the next few days I watched other teachers struggle to finish, confident in my own brilliant ingenuity. That was until the day the reports went out. All of a sudden I was flooded with complaints.

I looked again at my reports. For many of them I had inserted the name into the text without checking the gender. Ryan was now mortified to read that "her drama is imaginative and well scripted" and Sarah was startled to learn that "he directs a group well." I had to check and then re-write all the incorrect reports, under the amused glare of my fellow staff, who were enjoying their free periods. The following year I spent more time checking and less gloating.

Dan Clay works as a secondary school supply teacher of English and drama. Email your NQT experiences to features@tes.co.uk.

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