School reports have always been highly valued artefacts. Not only do they give an indication of a child’s performance over a period, they also form part of our personal histories. We keep them away in safe places where we can refer to them from time to time. As adults we often look back on them and are amused at how our lives have turned out against the background of our results and what our teachers had to say about us. Richard Branson’s teacher is reported to have predicated that he would either go to prison or become a millionaire.
Undoubtedly, as school terms draw to a close, nothing preoccupies the minds of teachers and school administrators like getting reports ready on time. As important as the time element is, equally important is making sure that reports are accurate and contain the right type of information. Here are 3 tips to make your school reports stand out for the right reasons.
Free of errors
Errors of any type in school reports must be avoided at all cost. Whether they are grammatical, typographical or mistakes in calculated figures, errors in reports reflect poorly on a school. The last thing a school can afford is to have a parent poring over a report and highlighting the mistakes in it. Schools are regarded as places of learning and enlightenment and so are less likely to be forgiven for making mistakes than institutions outside the education industry. Errors in calculations can be avoided by using systems that automate calculations. Such systems are common to most school information management systems. The likelihood of typographical errors can be greatly reduced by using comment banks which contain a pre-defined list of comments from which teachers may select. Some school management systems have a rich and customisable pool of comments that teachers can use.
Finally, having someone look over and vet reports before they are given out is highly recommended. This should ideally be done by a Principal or Head Teacher.
Reflect the person
Reports are most meaningful when they reflect the person they are reporting on. One way in which individuality can be expressed in a report is through comments. This responsibility usually falls on the class or form teacher since subject teachers handling hundreds of students may not have the time or patience to provide highly individualised reports.
Another way of reflecting individuality is by showing how a child’s performance in each subject compares with their previous performance and their targeted performance. Reflecting this answers questions like has there been an improvement since the last review? Has the child met or exceeded their targets?
Having this type of information against each subject in a report gives a granular insight into a child’s performance.
Easy to read and understand
Reports can contain an awful lot of information and how this information is laid out (often on a single A4 sheet) can make a big difference in terms of how clearly it is understood.
Usually, a combination of tables with clear rows and columns laid out in sections provides a good template for an easy to read report. If grades are used, it is useful to have a section that explains the grading system.
The type and size of fonts used in a report are also important. Anything less than a 10 point font size is likely to be difficult to read. Also, font types like Arial, Times New Roman and Calibri are preferred to other less formal ones.
Hopefully these 3 tips will get you started on producing more professional reports for your school. If you would like to explore some report templates, click here for a FREE trial of Quick School Manager.