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Do's and Don'ts of school report writing

A great read if reports seem daunting at the minute.
‘The_bearded_nqt’ shares some do’s and don’ts to get you started in the right way.

Nothing can prepare you for writing reports. Nothing. Tasks of this nature are impossible to recreate at University or on placement. Report writing will take you down. The question is, will you go down laughing or crying? So, here are a few dos and don’ts to help you keep a smile on your face during report writing season:

  1. Do not try to be original

I know you had that dream about writing thirty individual, personalised reports, but you need to let that dream die. Copy and paste are your new best friends, do not be afraid to use them. Write your first report, copy it and then paste it into the next child’s page. Now customise. Change those pronouns and switch out those synonyms. You will quickly be amazed how much simpler the process becomes, editing reports is a much nicer experience than writing them.

  1. Do try and write reports with friends

Report writing can feel like a sombre task undertaken by lonely teachers cut off from their friends and family, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Find a teacher friend, and get out your laptops and start writing. I guarantee laughter and banter will soon occur as you share stories about THAT and the subtext of THOSE sentences. I can’t promise you’ll have written ten reports in two hours but you will still be smiling and as 21st Century teachers that’s a benefit that shouldn’t be sniffed at.

  1. Do make a plan

Before you start writing, try and make a plan of attack. How are you going to do this? Alphabetically, in age order, in groups? I split my class list into the reports that I knew would be easy to write and those that I thought I would struggle to write. Then I tried to write one of each type every time I sat down at the computer. Some of my colleagues decided to write all of the English comments first, then all of the Maths etc. Somehow having a plan helps.

  1. Do ask for advice

I don’t think a day has passed over the past few weeks without me putting a report in front of my TA and asking for her advice. I value her opinion so much and she has told me when I’m being too kind or when I’m being too harsh. She’s remembered stories I have forgotten and brought up successes that need to be celebrated. I know not everyone has a TA available but there’ll be someone around whose got an opinion about that child even if it’s a parent helper.

  1. Do not leave it to the last minute

No teacher wants to hear it and I definitely don’t want to be the one to type it but… getting your reports started early will help make you a happier teacher. I’m not saying settle down in mid-February and get typing, but it’s definitely easier to write one or two reports a day for a few weeks than writing a whole stack of them in one go. But it’s not always possible to take this approach, so I’d at least recommend trying to bullet point some key points or targets for each child at some point. At least with that approach you won’t be starting off cold when you do come to write them.

I hope something here helped and I wish you the best of luck with your report writing.


  1. Do think about the children and their parents

After your seventeenth report it is easy to forget about the children and their parents however report writing is solely about telling parents and guardians about their child. That means that you need to imagine that you are talking to someone who probably isn’t too interested in the technicalities of handwriting or the use of the -ly suffix. Instead they do want to hear about what their child loves or can’t stop talking about, if they have good friends or whether they built something astonishing in DT. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find that reports like these are also a lot easier to write.

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The author

Chris Mooney is a Year 3 Class Teacher in Gloucestershire. Chris Instagram’s under the name the_bearded_nqt

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