Parents are not usually familiar with national curriculum jargon so plain English is by far the best style. Reports are better received if the vocabulary is descriptive and concise so avoid using the words 'good' 'well' and 'bad' and 'average'. These words give a very general picture and so they are not very informative for parents. You can usually find a more interesting and thoughtful comment. Try these:
- participates sensibly
- grasps new concepts quickly
- loves learning new skills
- understands clearly
- takes pleasure in
- concentrates for long periods
- enjoys being involved in
- lively imagination
- wide general knowledge
- has a wide range of interests
- puts in best effort
- has read widely
- is quick to transfer new information from his short-term to long-term memory
- is well-organised/reliable/keen
- sensible/careful worker
- continues to improve
- retains facts easily.
Getting the tone right is almost as important as getting the information across accurately. Remember that you are dealing with parents so you must find ways of making your comments accurate as well as sensitive.
If you write a report which is largely negative it can lead to a breakdown in relations between the school and the home. Although you have to be honest about the pupils' shortcomings, it is important to highlight their strengths and your tone should display your own interest in and care for the child.
Try using expressions such as:
- I was pleased when...
- I hope he will soon...
- I should be delighted if...
- I hope he will develop his talent for...
- I enjoy teaching her because...
- I wish her well next year
For the less able:
- slow but perseveres
- tries hard but needs extra support with
- does his best but lacks confidence
- is fairly keen but has a short attention span
- often tries hard but can be careless
- needs lots of practice at each level
- copes best in a small group
- needs extra practice at each level to keep up with the class
- acquires new skills/concepts after a lot of practice.
For the reluctant learner:
- makes avoidable mistakes
- needs to check her work more closely
- needs to supervised closely to keep her on task
- needs to put in more effort to keep up with the group
- is easily distracted
- often needs to finish off his work at break-times.
For the child with poor social skills:
- needs to consider other children's feelings
- has not yet learnt how to make friends
- does not realise that other children will treat him exactly as he treats them
- does not realise that other children deserve as much attention as her
- must learn that he will never get his own way by giving cheek.
Writing reports can be an daunting task in your first year, but take heart knowing that when you have completed it once, it will be easier next year.
Need further advice?
Your first point of contact is your ATL/AMiE rep in your school or college. Your local ATL/AMiE branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact AMiE's member advisors on tel: 0345 8118111 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.