Tales from the Head’s Office #7

Having retired as a primary head teacher & following the suggestion of my dear friend Paula this post is part of an occasional series about the highs & lows of my headship career & my opinions now I am no longer there! It spanned 13 years & included 3 schools. I hope you enjoy my tales!


Could Do Better!

All over the country in schools up & down the realm teachers are suffering from the same illness known within the profession as EOYR. It has no known cure! It surfaces annually at the same time as that seasonal visitor of hay fever but requires more stamina than is needed to cope with a few sneezes, runny noses & weeping eyes.

The medical profession has been unable, nay unwilling to provide a remedy. What is this ailment to which I refer? The End Of Year Report! They are the bane of every teacher who has to write one.

The major flaw in the whole time consuming, finger paralysing exercise is no-one has asked what they are for! Miles of ink, forests of trees have been sacrificed to tell parents what? That Little Johnny studied the Victorians or is able to do simple calculations? Surely if the parent took an interest in their child’s schooling, they would know the sort of topics covered over the year.

Years ago (old chestnut coming up!) we had 2 marks- one for achievement and one for effort. So you looked for the A+ and kept your fingers crossed for as few D- as possible! In these days of political correctness, marks that clearly differentiate children’s abilities are more than frowned on – they are banned.

Some schools have reverted to software to ‘write’ their reports. Staff have a bank of comments to choose from & just hope that whoever proof reads them (usually the Head!) notices if the wrong name or gender goes through.

So what is the purpose of the EOYR? What Parents, do you want reported? How would you like it reported – face to face meetings? That sounds like a parents evening to me (cue for another post me thinks!)

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  • software to write the reports – that is depressing!


  • Face to face for me every time

  • We got our sons report a few days back and I am a bit cross about it because there was something on it that I wasn’t aware of. I have been in close contact with the teacher this year due to family circumstances so there was plenty opportunity to tell me, I asked to be kept informed. It is not really a big deal, but at the same time I would have preferred to know and help out from my end too. If it wasn’t enough of an issue to tell me then it shouldn’t have been enough of an issue to go into his report.

    The problem I have with end of year reports is that if anything does come up then it is too late to do anything about it. I would rather a second parent evening during the year, I think it would be more useful.


  • Having four children, I’ve read a lot of reports, and so for me a concise record of what they’ve done & how they could improve was what I wanted. However, if your children have a home/school book and you attend parents’ evenings, you should know of any problems anyway.

  • I like the good old fashioned effort & achievement grades. The private sector still do them. Our local primary school produces the exact report you are talking about here from a computer programme. They are all fluffy and nice and tell you very little. I skim them. It makes my daughters feel good but I am not sure in the end it does them any favours. Sometimes its good to know we could do better!

    • I got SO bored proof reading 350 of them. The staff would divide the children into ability groups & write one for each group then just change the name!! Got a bit embarassing when friends shared & saw the same!!

  • Two years ago, our daughter was going to an american style school where the reports tended to be about stuff that was non-academic and intangible, reflecting the values of the school. It didn’t matter as she got As anyway, but we felt the teachers had to go through a lot of work for something that conveyed very little info. Now at the French school the reports are more informative, and I agree with you that as far as our daughter is concerned, we don’t really need them. Again, straight As, what’s the point? Except of course, she loves to bring it home. But for our son, who you know has learning difficulties that we’re trying to address together with the school, it’s very useful to see at a glance what he has and hasn’t made progress in throughout the year.

  • In my experience, most parents just want a straightforward record of their child’s progress (including NC levels which, of course, do differentiate between pupils – I’m assuming you’re talking about norm refencing when you say such things are banned!) in clear, easy-to-understand English. None of which should be a problem to a professional communicator!


  • You have nailed it! For many schools using software to assist reports it is a very dull process not only for the teacher to write unimaginatively, but surely for the parents to read!

    One great thing about ‘Blogs’ is that the parent will already know what their child has been learning and if excited enough may have had interaction in that learning too. This surely can pave the way for more targetted reports/parents’ evenings that focus on strategies that can improve learning and as a result this can only create stronger home/school ties.

    A great blog post, thanks for sharing!

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