Some teachers are naturals at record-keeping and produce colour-coded charts and graphs that are works of art, updated hourly; others jot notes on the backs of envelopes and sort out their grubby piles of paper only when they need the information in a hurry.
There is a happy medium between the obsessive and the chaotic - but however you achieve it, there's no point in keeping records unless the information feeds back into your teaching and your career development.
WHAT RECORDS SHOULD YOU KEEP?
Parents have a statutory right to two reports of their children's progress each year. It is reasonable for them to expect such reports to be based on verifiable information rather than on your fallible memory. You need records of:
* classroom activity - work set, work returned, resources used
* homework records - especially helpful if backed up by notes in pupils'
* assessment results - internal and external
* attendance in your lessons
* pastoral problems and activity within your tutor group.
HOW CAN YOU SHOW THAT YOUR PUPILS ARE ACTUALLY LEARNING?
What information will their next teacher need?
You need to record:
* starting points and baseline information - CAT scores, reading ages, whatever diagnostic and assessment information your school generates or that pupils bring with them
* national curriculum levels
* Sats scores (much more useful if you can access the numerical marks as well as the levels)
* classwork and coursework marks
* "added value" calculations
* possibly a portfolio of each pupil's best work in your subject - invaluable for the next teacher.
COVERING YOUR BACK
You won't get through your first year of teaching without being involved in some behaviour management incident, or meeting with parents. So make sure you keep:
* incident referral slips
* notes of meetings with parents or carers
* records of detentions and other sanctions
* notes of any disputes professional problem situations that involve you.
YOUR NQT PROGRESS
If you were properly trained during your PGCE or GTP year, you will already have systems for recording evidence that relates to your progress through the standards. Keep going. Use the targets that you set in your career entry and development profile (CEPD) and at induction to structure your records and progress. You should also add records of all NQT training and meetings, Inset, new targets and reflections and evaluations.
WHAT FORMAT TO USE CAN ALSO BE A DILEMMA
Electronic record-keeping lets you exploit the school's existing information management systems. The SIMS package, or equivalent, should let you download lists of names, assessment information and exam entries that can go straight into your own spreadsheet, word processor or database, which saves a lot of typing. It also makes information management easy and allows you to keep multiple back-ups of your information. A memory stick makes life much easier.
Paper-based records, on the other hand, can be flexible and quick to use, and are accessible if your computer crashes. But, losing your record book with no back-up would be a major disaster.
However you choose to keep records, bear in mind that they will inevitably contain sensitive and confidential information. Keep them secure; find out how your school or local authority implements the Data Protection Act, and follow their guidance.