As a form tutor, I can usually guess what is on my pupils' reports before I hand them out. This term was no exception and my pupils gave their predictable responses: pleasure, smugness, disappointment and the odd empty threat of a stealth disposal of the report on the way home. But I was surprised to see Era, the lovely, hard-working Albanian girl, place her report in her bag and discreetly wipe a tear on her sleeve.
As the rest of the class left the room, I called her over and asked if I could take a look. She stared at her feet and fought back the tears as she handed me a glowing report. So why was she upset? The truth was that the report would not be good enough for her father.
Even though most of Era's teachers had graded her effort as "excellent", some only rated her as "very good". This was the issue for her father: unless she had "excellent" in all subjects he would never be happy.
I tried my hardest at subsequent parents' evenings to convince him that she was doing exceptionally well, but he insisted that anything less than perfect was a failure. The extra pressure wasn't good for Era and I worried that she may stop trying all together.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and show Era's father just how good her report really was. After rescuing a pile of blank school certificates from the recycling bin, I made up a couple of awards such as "outstanding report of the year", and signed them, masquerading as a senior colleague in a different coloured pen.
I'm sure it is the pupil and not the teacher who is supposed to embellish reports. On report day, Era now trots out of the room happily, with the expression on her face that her report deserves.
The writer is a teacher in Birmingham.