A teacher’s view on school reports: they’re bland, robotic and misleading

Writing in the Guardian, independent school deputy head David James says that, as with everything else in education, school reports are now standardised and corporate but this deprives students and parents of valuable feedback.

…There are exceptions, and as a school inspector (and parent) I have read reports that have deeply moved me because of the obvious respect and insight that the teacher has for the student they are writing about. However, too often, they convey very little. And when this happens they become almost meaningless, moving from an essential bridge between school and home to something that simply fulfils statutory requirements.

Why does this happen? Teachers have to write about hundreds of students in very little time; it is not surprising that many choose to copy and paste rather than write finely polished prose for each student. But there are more troubling reasons. Many teachers no longer feel that they can tell parents what they really think about their children…

In the past I might have written that “David is rude and lazy and, if he carries on like this, will fail English”; now I am more likely to write that “David needs to have a more mature attitude in class, and take responsibility for his own learning; if he does not his potential in the subject will go unfulfilled…”

Reports that are bland, and composed in euphemisms, ultimately let down both school and student. Young people need clear, constructive guidance if they are to achieve. Too many reports today fail in this basic obligation.

Unless reports are reinvented for the 21st century, they risk becoming robotic, with all the rustiness and redundancy the term implies. We have the technology to make them more human…

More at: A teacher’s view on school reports: they’re bland, robotic and misleading


The Guardian raised the issue of ‘robotic’ school reports on Saturday so it is interesting to see these additional insights from David James (and in the full article he goes on to suggest some possible solutions).

What do you make of his comments? Are reports now too bland to be of any value?

If so, is it because of software, lack of time from teachers or the fear of causing offence?

Please tell us how you see it in the comments below or via Twitter…


Have school reports become too bland to be useful?


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  1. Azza Alharthy

    Because what Is written in the student report not give enough details to the student and parent to support student performance and help to improve his / her learning.

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