Let's be frank

15th November 2002 at 00:00
"HE HAS has glaring faults and they have certainly glared at us this term," wrote Stephen Fry's despairing headmaster on his school report. And former newspaper editor Sir Max Hastings' French was described thus: "He plummeted to the bottom of the form in the first fortnight ... we have looked for signs of surfacing; but he is there still, and only the bubbles rise."

Nasty, yes. Descriptive, yes. And, dare we say it, probably far more comprehensible and even motivating for parent and pupil than the bland jargon that goes home at the end of term in these litigious days. What are parents supposed to make of statements like: "Kylie is beginning to count in tens," or "Jack has attained Level 3"? Are they budding geniuses or backward?

Independent schools still write robust reports for their paying customers. Is it time for state schools to ditch the statement bank?

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