Research from Capita SIMS has revealed that over half of parents (57%) feel primary school reports are either too generic or do not contain enough information about how their child is doing.
More than a third of primary school teachers (35%) agree. This is despite the fact that schools are now recording more information about the children they teach than ever before.
The results suggest that primary schools’ communication with parents needs to evolve, something some heads are actively addressing.
Jayne Mullane, headteacher at Mersey Vale Primary School in Stockport, remarks: “We need to listen to parents to find out what information they want to receive. In my school, parents gave us feedback on our reports and we changed them as a result. They now include information about how much effort a child makes in class as well as details of academic performance.”
The Capita SIMS survey found that knowing whether their child is happy and confident in class tops the list of information parents want to know from teachers, suggesting that mums and dads do not just want academic results on their reports.
And although three-quarters of parents (74%) stated that it was very important to have information on happiness and confidence, less than half (46%) reported actually receiving it from their child’s primary school.
Teachers too felt information on a child’s happiness was crucial, with 75% stating it was very important for parents to have this information.
Phil Neal, a director at Capita SIMS, comments: “The vast majority of parents believe teachers are doing a great job, but the research does indicate that information about how a child is doing in school needs updating.
“By asking parents what they want, schools can actually stop collecting unnecessary data and just focus on the information that really helps teachers in class and gives parents a more rounded picture of their child’s progress.
The survey also revealed that most teachers (85%) agreed that technology has a positive impact on their workload when it comes to monitoring pupil progress.
Phil Neal continues: “By making better use of the management information systems and pupil tracking software that they already have in primary schools, teachers can track a richer set of information about pupils without impacting on workload.
“Teachers could just as easily record and report on whether a child helped a friend in class or is working hard on a particular project – details that are often just as important to parents as assessment results.”
A guide for schools entitled ‘Could do better: is it time to change the school report?’ is available and can be downloaded from here. It contains tips for schools on improving reporting and a list of questions parents should ask schools about pupil progress.
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