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Criticism about reports

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by LINGUIST2, Jan 17, 2020.


    LINGUIST2 New commenter

    The member of SLT responsible for reports in my school has been calling staff to her office to pull them up for double spacing between words in their reports and telling them to change words etc. Any thoughts? Most staff are feeling exhausted and would rather SLT support us with discipline and poor attitudes from pupils. We all want to do reports of a high standard for parents but the way this is being done is just making us feel bad.
    caress likes this.
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Haha. I remember a member of SLT sending loads of reports back because staff had used"however" to join two clauses and not at the beginning of the sentence!!!!!!
  3. colacao17

    colacao17 Occasional commenter

    Oh, I worked with one like that! She sent out emails with basic grammar/punctuation rules to staff about their reports. Didn't dare confront them face to face.
    install likes this.
  4. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    Submit them digitally and let the SLT edit them as they wish!
  5. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    If double spacing is such a concern, then a software solution is needed. This should correct not only the examples the SLT member has spotted, but also the ones they've missed.
    The MIS that I am familiar with can do that, plus global spellcheck, plus ensuring children's names are correct....
    ajrowing and agathamorse like this.
  6. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    Isn’t spacing a simple thing to get right? It can be checked electronically? Surely a report represents the teacher and the school- the teacher surely would want parents to see they hold high standards or presentation, grammar and vocabulary? When you’re one of those stuck proofreading many, picking up on things that should not be happening is frustrating. Even worse is the wrong pronoun used for a child!
    foxtail3 likes this.
  7. Bungie

    Bungie New commenter

    Even worse is the huge number of teachers who can't spell - especially "practise." It creates a terrible impression with parents.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Ask for exemplars and the Report Writing Policy . Sadly, your head is forcing you all to go down a 'copy and paste' job eventually whereby you simply change the name and add it to an accepted report. But then it seems Ofsted do 'copy and paste' jobs too in their reports on schools.

    There is nothing like a bullish headteacher fearful of spacing errors in the work of others...
    ajrowing likes this.
  9. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Software can detect this too ( quite common in copy-and-paste reports) but isn't infallible. "I am impressed with Jane's analysis of Shakespeare and his use of imagery" for example. So there's a need for proofreading; long ago I was taught by a compositor that you should never proofread your own work, as you know what you intended to write and in consequence miss what you really wrote.
  10. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Occasional commenter

    I guess it could depend on consistency e.g. the stylistic convention of two spaces between sentences, which seems to be less common these days but is still seen sometimes. Also, it partly depends how reports are input - it is generally relatively easy to spot extraneous spaces in something like Word visually (without even using the show formatting option) but it can be harder to spot extra spaces at the end of a line in a relatively small textbox. I'm sure it must be annoying for proofreaders to find repeated mistakes but schools can vary massively in terms of what they expect for reports and writing personalised reports can be very time consuming, often at points in the year when teachers are especially tired e.g. after exams, end of term etc. so it is hardly surprising mistakes creep in. That is then compounded by the fact that people are generally not great proofreaders of their own work (especially if they are trying to do it immediately) as people read what they think they wrote not what is actually there.

    I worked at one school which specified the spelling of a word which is acceptable in two variants...I understand the desire for consistency but it would have been helpful if they had told new members of staff i.e. me before the reports were due :rolleyes:
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Occasional commenter

    Crossed posts with Skeoch :) re proofreading own work!
    agathamorse likes this.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    What an utterly ridiculous waste of highly paid senior staff time.
    If they have called in multiple staff to talk to them individually, they could have equally had just one of their administrative staff literally read through all the reports and make all the corrections in one push while numerous highly qualified teachers busy themselves with excellent lesson preparation.
    The time taken to read imperfect reports and then summon the authors and have them go away and rewrite is the peak of inefficiency.
    If I were in your shoes,I'd do a time audit on how they have managed it, and present it to them. I would, I really would. It does not take front, it does not take chutzpah, it merely takes the level of rational, patient exasperation which I feel about this.
    Your inherent abilities to write a report will not be improved by being summoned to an office. So you could also request with this member of SLT that an entire INSET day is devoted to the art of report writing. No, hang on, it ought to be 4 INSET days-Emerging,developing,secure and mastery in report writing.
    No, scrap all that. What I would in fact do is write yet shoddier reports devoid of paragraphs and capitals, and write at the bottom-"ha! summon me for this."
    (In imaginary ink.)
    roman_eagle, ajrowing and LINGUIST2 like this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

  14. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    Is this really different to the system when I first started teaching where I had to visit the Deputy to collect rejected reports, which had to be rewritten and returned before the end of school? One major problem with electronic reports is that teachers are less likely to learn from their mistakes, indeed they may not even know they are making mistakes...

    Personally I wish schools would put the focus on ease of comprehension rather than grammar. I have seen far too many reports that might be grammatically correct, but the content is incomprehensible.
    roman_eagle, ajrowing and agathamorse like this.
  15. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    I find the issue in school is that the proof reading and checking for errors is simply done by SLT with the assumption that because they are SLT they know better. It’s infuriating to be told to correct something that was correct in the first place just for stylistic reasons and even worse when they ask you to change it to something you know isn’t correct. They also seem to feel the need to find things to change/improve simply because...

    Also, to be frank, one small error and you simply apologise to the parent if they bring it up and offer to do a reprint. The checking should focus on those people who you know will struggle to produce a set of readable reports rather than wasting time reading a whole set to find a missing comma.

    Because staff know all reports will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, they have no incentive to do a great job in the first place. Reports will be returned to you with corrections and improvements whether or not they are decent.

    Sample read at random three to four reports from each teacher and make a decision based on what you have read. If the three you read are great, you can probably assume the rest are. If there are a fair few errors, then this teacher’s reports need closer checking. If the ones you pick are a load of tosh, then don’t bother reading the rest (or maybe take a cursory glance at a few more) and hand back to the teacher saying that the standard isn’t acceptable and they need to be rewritten.
  16. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Calling staff to their office to change words and pointed out double spacing is a basicallly someone on a power trip.

    Double spacing between words is easily solved by having staff type reports into a word processor, as has already been pointed out. Checking reports is a task that should be delegated/shared out. HoDs to arrange proof reading of reports. HoY to do similar with Tutor reports, maybe.
    Like many people I do not see mistakes when rereading my typing because I know what I meant to type and my brain fills in missing words and corrects errors.

    There is a nice article about it in the online science/tech magazine wired


    Another article here.


    People who accuse teachers of being lazy or incompetent when it comes to report writing are not being supportive and they are failing to recognise the true power of the human brain that is internally correcting the errors.

    In fact we can read words as long as all the correct letters are there.



    SLT member checking all reports is micromanagement, poor management. A good/competent SLT would put a checkng system in place and show people how to use it, give examples of what happens when the system is not followed and set internal deadlines accordingly. The best SLT would be encouraging people to use word-processors and checking systems to lighten the load.

    Personally I find it much easier to spot mistakes if the reports are printed out as opposed to being on a computer screen. The reason for this is changing from the format to make the work as unfamiliar as possible.

    "Unfortunately, that kind of instinctual feedback doesn't exist in the editing process. When you're proof reading, you are trying to trick your brain into pretending that it's reading the thing for the first time. Stafford suggests that if you want to catch your own errors, you should try to make your work as unfamiliar as possible. Change the font or background color, or print it out and edit by hand. "Once you've learned something in a particular way, it's hard to see the details without changing the visual form," he said."

    Have a nice day.
  17. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    The most important, and probably the only mistakes that really matter to a parent are getting their child's name and gender right. It's also quite a good idea to show that you know what their child has achieved and contributed and can make a constructive comment on how to improve.
    Personally I always thought the most important comments in a report were the ones about behavior and effort.
    From what the OP is describing about the need for support with behavior it sounds as if this member of SLT has decided to fiddle with the reports while Rome burns.
    LINGUIST2 likes this.

    LINGUIST2 New commenter

    Thanks for your reply. It's only when they were printed out that the spacing issue cropped up. The text box is very small on the Seemis reporting programme(in Scotland) and you don't always see you have got 2 spaces not one so I suppose printing and checking before SLT do is the way to go!
  19. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    One of the problems I have had is not actually knowing these things as I have had, say, seven year seven groups as a majority share. Therefore answerable for their reports.
    The reason I have not known these things is I have been too busy being micromanaged into specifics about writing reports, which are supposed to showwhat the child has achieved and contri....
    **Insert doomed hamster wheel gif **
  20. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    I agree, the last couple of schools I worked in moved to a predominately data based reporting system, with only the tutor report having any personalised comments about the pupil.

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