On report

9th May 2008 at 01:00
Sara Bubb advises how to tackle that daunting 40 hours of writing
Sara Bubb advises how to tackle that daunting 40 hours of writing

Ask any teacher about writing reports and you're bound to be met with an almighty groan. They're time consuming and have to be written on top of all the work you do for your everyday teaching. Have you worked out how long they take? If you have a primary class of 30, I reckon you'll have 40 hours of writing ahead of you that will have to be squeezed in by the end of June.

Reports have to be done well: they're the most important thing you write as a teacher. Every word will be analysed and kept for posterity. I've recently inherited relatives' school reports written in the early 1900s. And who knows which of your little darlings will become famous - or infamous - and the words you wrote late one night will be published for all to see.

Preparation is key. Speak to your headteacher and induction tutor about what's required. Over the past 10 years, people have been trying out different ways to make the process quicker, easier and more useful.

Computer-assisted report writing is going out of fashion because the results sound bland. Comment banks can be handy to look at to get you started but the best thing is to make some notes on key achievements and necessary improvements.

Ask pupils to do a self assessment of what these might be. If assessment for learning is working, these should be accurate, so use them to write specifically about individuals. Then draw up a timetable, but pace yourself because they're not something that you can knock off in a rush.

Choose a "straightforward" pupil to write about first to get you in the swing, but show it to a senior member of staff for approval before doing the rest.

Sara Bubb is an expert on induction, and lectures at the Institute of Education, London.

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