End of year report writing can feel like a burden on many teachers’ time. While it’s fresh on your mind, now is a good opportunity to review how well the process of sharing with parents works in your school. How can it be improved for next year?
According to a recent BESA survey, the main reason primary schools seek new technologies is to help communicate with parents. In this blog, we’ll look at how technology can help improve both how you engage with parents and your work-life balance.
What do parents need to know?
It’s a statutory duty for schools to share certain things with parents in the period since their last report was sent, at least annually: achievements, general progress and attendance records.
The Ofsted inspection framework also emphasises the sharing of “clear and timely information on how well their child is progressing… Parents are given guidance about how to support their child to improve.”
Obviously, there are many other reasons to share information with parents – they care about their children’s wellbeing and want to support them academically, socially and behaviorally.
The types of information that you share may vary at different times of the year and fulfil different purposes. Whatever you share, it must be easy for parents to understand:
- Summary of achievements
- Things that the pupil must work on
- Examples of their learning
- Resources to support home learning
- Attainment and progress against age-related expectations
Easy access to pupil information cuts workload
Being able to access the above information easily and at any given time is a massive time saver. In its recent action plan on teacher workload, the Department for Education (DfE) recommends that assessment data should follow the principle to “collect once and use many times”.
This is an area where technology, such as online assessment systems, can really help. If your formative assessments and other pupil data are already up-to-date and linked together in one place, then it becomes much quicker and easier to generate reports at any time. Some online assessment systems will also have a report-writing function built in.
Frequency and methods of reporting
The most common method of communication is traditionally the written annual report. But many schools now find it beneficial to send more frequent, shorter reports. This allows them to engage with parents at key points throughout the year and reduces the amount of information in, and the time required to write, annual reports.
Sending reports via email or on online portals is also growing in popularity. The internet gives a great opportunity to share more dynamic information. While a static document can only provide historic information, some methods of online reporting can be updated in real time as teachers collect new assessments.
School story: technology helps restore work-life balance
Staff at Walton-le-Dale Primary, Lancashire, have embraced the use of technology to aid both formative assessment and reporting to parents. The Assistant Head, Peter Richardson, says:
“Creating reports in Classroom Monitor is incredibly efficient. We’re in the middle of report writing season and I can guarantee our staff will come back from their half-term more energised and feeling on top of things than a few years ago.
“When we looked at online assessment systems, the clincher for Classroom Monitor was the reports. We can utilise the assessments we’ve already entered into the system to generate the vast majority of end-of-year reports.
“Work-life balance is so important; we’d rather our staff spend their time making accurate assessments than writing a paragraph about each foundation subject.”