THROUGHOUT their primary school career I have been amazed and vexed by the annual reports on my children. Amazed that the teachers have to devote so much time and creative and emotional energy to the task of compiling them; vexed to receive a document that I find remarkably unhelpful.
As a parent I want answers to six questions:
* Are my children happy at school?
* Are they working to the best of their ability and behaving properly?
* How does their performance relate to the level expected of their age-group?
* What contribution have they made to their class and the school community?
* Are there any weaknesses that they could remedy with help from home?
* Are there any strengths and aptitudes which could be encouraged at home?
I get an answer to the third question through the results of national testing but only in respect of language and mathematics. I am sometimes able to deduce answers to the other five questions from the wordy summary of aims and topics. If the report simply answered the six questions, it would be shorter, easier to complete and more helpful. It could be used several times during the year.
As things are, the report sets out to answer another question altogether, namely what work my children have done during the year. The question I expect to be asked by the HMI and headteacher, who are in a position to monitor the plans of work that constitute a proper reply.
If parents want or need to know what is taught, perhaps they could be given this information in list form at the beginning of the year (with an explanation of what the items mean).
At the end of each review period, they could be given an updated version with columns for levels of effort and attainment. This list would be additional to the six-point report above.
Meanwhile I am sorry that the teachers are working so hard to so little purpose.
David Hill Relugas Road Edinburgh