Monday, 9 July 2012

The School Report: A two way street?

Friday turned out to be a significant day in our household as like many others across the country, eldest brought her very first ever primary School Report home from school. After a year of wondering how eldest has been doing at school, now was the time to find out how her first year at school had been perceived by her teacher.

Eldest has clearly demonstrated that she is as bright as a button from an early age. Her spoken language far surpasses many of her peers, and she constantly has her nose in a book.  She settled into her reception class, found her feet and has definitely come on leaps and bounds this year. She loves reading, being creative, and she loves music. We chose a small school setting expecting her to be nurtured and encouraged on a more personal level, and she mostly has been.

So we received Eldest's report home and it was an excellent one, full of comments on how well eldest had done at school, how good her learning has been and how she had made sound progress during her first year at school and so we are naturally very proud of eldest and happy she has worked so hard. However, if I am honest, some of her report felt like a bit generic. Her whole first year was condensed into an A4 sheet of generic superlatives and teachery language which didn't really tell me anything I already didn't know. We would never tell eldest but to be honest I was a little disappointed with her report. Not due to eldest's performance, but due to the teacher's.

Along with eldest's report, we also received her EYFS scores. Having scoured the EYFS plan many times, I already knew in my head what I knew she was capable of doing at home and where she stood in terms of the scores. However, I was slightly bemused as to some of the scores her teacher gave her. She had failed to identify learning and ability in areas that I know eldest is more than capable of. During the year, Eldest has commented throughout the year that there are a couple of children in her class who have received extra attention as the the teacher "likes them the most". Eldest often comes home and comments that these children have been doing work that she could do easily, but has not been given the opportunity to by the teacher as the teacher thinks they are the only clever ones. She is a very perceptive five year old. I have broached this with the teacher but although she is good with the kids, she is not hugely accessible with the parents. Eldest's EYFS scores, I feel, could tie in with what she had been telling me all year, that her teacher had not been identifying sufficient opportunities to match her abilities, or had labelled her as less able due to her glue ear. 

Every parent believes that their child is gifted/talented/amazing and most children are in certain areas, but many parents try not to air their beliefs to often for fear that they will be labelled as a pushy parent or told that they are boasting about their children. But I know my child is intelligent. I know that some of her EYFS scores do not reflect her true ability. You only have to spend time with her to realise that she is ahead in many areas compared to other children her age. She has spent this year being a little bored in some areas at school as her teacher has not stretched her far enough.

On eldest's report there is a "parents comments" section which you have to fill in to say you have received and read the report. I feel inclined to suggest to the teacher that I believe eldest's EYFS scores do not match her abilities, but I am not completely sure whether this would be appropriate. As a parent new to this report lark, what is the etiquette? Can parents comment honestly in the parents feedback section? Or is it just another bureaucratic box ticking exercise? Do teachers expect a generic "we are very pleased with...." comment on the feedback sheet, or is this an avenue for parents to be honest with their child's teacher? Are reports a reflection of the child's progress or the teacher's perception of the child? Do I tell the teacher that I do not agree with some of her comments and EYFS scores and politely underline the reasons why? Or do I just add my "we are very pleased with eldests report" comment and pop it in the envelope? Are EYFS scores completely meaningless when you get down to the nitty gritty of it?

When does boasting and being a pushy parent turn to advocacy for your child? As parents, are we in a position to advocate for our children if we feel that a teacher is not fully meetings our child's needs? I am guessing that eldest's EYFS scores may either be down to the schools underscoring so that their improvement in year 1 looks more improved, or has the teacher not "allowed" her to reach her full potential, or not noticed that she has easily reached higher levels than recorded. Should parents be able to advocate for their children if they honestly and realistically feel that their child is capable of more than recorded on their school report?

Answers on a postcard...... What are your thoughts?


  1. I think you should comment honestly and push, push push. Im concerned by these school reports and quite honestly think it would be better to get them in March and have a parents meeting at this time of year. I think your school sounds a lot better than hours BTW! x

  2. I'm a firm believer in saying what you want to say when invited to and not apologising for doing so. Whilst some teachers may see the parents response section as a box ticking exercise it shouldn't be so.

    My sister wasn't pushed or helped at primary school and as a result she really struggled and still does. Early on they didn't identity the help she needed with maths so she didn't received it. Years later she failed GCSE maths three times and her teachers then thought that was due to the fundamentals not being learnt or understood at a young age - just goes to show how important that primary school stage is. It really dismays me when I hear about children not being pushed at all and them then getting bored with education as a result. The more and more I hear about the school system the more I want to look into home schooling, but then that also sounds like a huge amount of responsibility!

  3. Thanks both - am going to write my true thoughts :-)



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