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Pupils on report: are staff totally truthful?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by boatie, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. boatie

    boatie New commenter

    ... and should you do anything about it if not? I'm talking about the secondary school situation where a pupil takes a report round every lesson to get behaviour and effort commented on every lesson.

    In my lesson today, I noticed a pupil had received good grades from a colleague for a lesson yesterday. Straight after that lesson yesterday that same colleague had told me that the pupil's behaviour had been less than perfect and barely any work had been done. An experienced teaching assistant said the same thing - and he'd even sat with the pupil for a good part of the lesson to help with focus and avoid distracting others. Last week my colleague said this pupil was never a problem with them, which I did question when we spoke to plan the lessons - it's a shared group.

    My colleague is a respected and capable member of staff and we work somewhere where a pupil's poor behaviour or lack of effort isn't instantly blamed on the clas teacher, thankfully. So why not fill out a report card warts and all so that the pupil can get the support/ kick up the behind that's needed, and parents get a true picture of what's going on in school?
    phlogiston likes this.
  2. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Because, unfortunately, it can sometimes come back to bite you?

    Sometimes self-preservation and being a little bit canny are better for your own stress levels than very blunt honesty and noticing every little thing which isn’t perfect. It’s not necessarily how it should be, but sometimes complete honesty may not be the best policy.
    rolysol, jarndyce, BetterNow and 4 others like this.
  3. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    Honesty in education? How we all laughed.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Maybe the colleague has a different view of report forms? Maybe they believe that giving the child a grade which reflects the best seen in the lesson rather than the general picture is the way to go? Maybe they feel that giving a higher grade means they look like a good teacher. Maybe they don't want to be the one to show the child's behaviour isn't ok?

    Unless you are the HOY or similar, I can't see it should matter to you what other staff do.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I agree with the fact that in many schools there can be a consequence to the teacher if they give a low score, irrespective of it being a true reflection of what that child did.
    There are other reasons too. Here are some I've done myself-
    A poor score would have made the child stroppy, but I had the next class already lined up waiting to come in. No time, so I boosted the score to get rid of the kid.
    A poor score given to a child standing next to you making large eyes about the fact they stayed in their seat the whole time can seem, in the moment, harsh on that child. So you up the score as a motivator.
    You can also put a high score to create a self fulfilling prophecy, which works especially well with a child who struggles with themselves and their behaviour, as opposed to a child who is purposefully horrible.
    The worst reason for up-scoring is if my lesson is fifth in the day, and I see that in all prior lessons they scored highly-ten out of ten. They actually only deserve a three in mine, but how does that look to the person they take the report card too? My classes are rubbish?
    And so on.

    The best way to have a child on report would be to not issue the report to the child, rather to have a member of staff collate scores at the end of the day by contacting all relevant staff. Nobody could see either the child or anybody else's score. I'm not sure who came up with the notion of having the child collect in their own scores, but it is a very silly one. If you are going to monitor somebody for good reasons, the element of self management makes it harder for staff to be honest, and pivotally, it guarantees a worsening in behaviour when the child no longer has the synthetic prop of a tick sheet to tell them how good they are.
    It does little to boost their self regulation.
    But it does lots for the person who insists on issuing the card because they are doing something for behaviour.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter


    I've given nonsense scores before just because the whole thing is nonsense and I hate the system.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    There's also the fact that if you're going to score a child's behaviour and act on it, you ought to do it at the first sign of poor behaviour, not introduce layers of not really dealing with it-
    "staff have recorded that you behaved poorly three times last week, so this week we're going to give you a piece of paper so that staff can record on that how many times you behave poorly. That'll teach you!"
    "Ooo, I'm so scared, I'd better change"...
    ...thought no child ever.
  8. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    There are many times where the report is not to encourage better behaviour but is rather to provide evidence of poor behaviour.

    I try to be honest but it is plain that either some of the students have a personality transplant for other teachers lessons or the other teachers are being economical with the truth.
    mothorchid likes this.
  9. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    Sometimes, what is a bad lesson for any other child might be a relatively good lesson for that child, hence the good score? I remember ranting at my head about how a report had done nothing for a child’s behaviour (I was ar the end of my tether) and she said ‘well he’s not going to just magically be good straight away’ - which was of course true. He’d been better than the week before, and the report grades reflected that. Perhaps that’s whats going on here?

    I’ve seen reports work well for some children, but not so well for others. The aforementioned child was on report most of the year I taught him, which I really don’t think was the point!
    -myrtille- and forthejoyofit like this.
  10. scilady

    scilady New commenter

    We have misbehaviour because it is tolerated. After WW2 we were miles poorer but seemingly also miles better behaved... reasons possibly complex but the fact is if they can get away with it they will try it on. The more liberal commentators need to remember we need to stop teachers leaving through stress to which behaviour and being blamed for not controlling it , is a prime cause. I do not remember ANYONE ever back chatting a teacher in 1949-63 ! We spoke when invited to do so. And certainly few if any on my council estate were sent away as out of the moral control of their parents. Maybe we should teach parenting again. I also got a spectacularly good education in spite of having come off a very poor estate.
  11. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    See this all the time in the state sector. I've done it myself - guess what happens if you're the only teacher crossing the report? Oh it must be your lesson. Maybe you're picking on them? Or you have a 'personality clash'.

    What I've found with them too is that even if they do have crosses they come off it anyway.
  12. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I always found this galling too. In the end I would write factual things which could not be put down to judgement, such as "Blake wrote three lines this lesson" or "Today Kim swore six times and stayed in her seat for 27 minutes of the lesson". This was not open to being my judgement, but a fact, so said what it needed to say.
    But yes, then I got questioned by HoYs or somesuch and made to adjust what I had written. A joke, really.
    slstrong123 likes this.
  13. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Senior commenter

  14. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    The reports tend to focus on specific targets. So the kids meet those targets while continuing to be little sh¡ts in other aspects. Report good, behaviour bad. They know how to play the system.
  15. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    That's it, in a nutshell.
    Catgirl1964, sbkrobson and -myrtille- like this.
  16. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    I once got the blame from the HT for hatecrime graffiti (towards myself that I had complained about) on the desks in my room because if my lessons were interesting enough then they would have no time to write graffiti......
    saluki likes this.
  17. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    sbkrobinson's description of various reasons is so accurate and comprehensive unusually for me I'm lost for further words!
  18. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Though I agree with the above posts about the uselessness of reports I will put one defence in of them.

    Should the little so-and-so have to be expelled in the future then it won't be something big that does it but a vast amount of little things. It's easy to say a serious assault, excessive swearing, carrying a knife..... or whatever is something that won't be repeated and the demon is genuinely sorry for this.*
    However 438 variations on "Mr Cazorla noted his poor behaviour in Lesson 3 Thu 15th November" is paradoxically a lot harder to explain away. So I'm always happy to spend time writing reports/emails that will probably have no effect until long after I've left that supply gig, or more likely no effect at all.

    Of course, this high moral ground depends on honesty from the teacher and the reports being retained, neither of which are given as posters above have pointed out.

    *I know, I know.
    Northern_Miss likes this.
  19. Northern_Miss

    Northern_Miss New commenter

    I once heard a deputy say, "we can't put that child on report again, last time they barely passed it." In that school the behavior policy said that if a child couldn't get off report in 2 weeks, they'd be suspended...
    ridleyrumpus likes this.
  20. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I agree with modgepodge that sometimes it's difficult to be negative on a report when a pupil has definitely improved their behaviour.

    If they were absolutely awful the week before going on report, and since being put on report their behaviour has been a lot better but still not meeting your expectations (ie: good for them, but still not good!), it does feel harsh to not tick their report. Because you want to encourage them to keep up the improvement, and recognising and praising that improvement might help them to stay on the right track.

    But if their report target is "No calling out in lessons" I don't think you can tick it, whilst being honest. If there's room, I sometimes write "ish" or "partial" and a comment like "Massive improvement but still some calling out" or whatever.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.

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