When I was an NQT and faced with the daunting task of writing Year 11 annual reports for the first time I had no idea where to start. I had my own Record of Achievement tucked away in a box somewhere with my final report inside… Could I use that as a rubric? No. I was a very different student to a lot of the pupils I was writing about; mostly students who spoke English as a second language and, in the case of this particular group, not at all likely to achieve that Holy Grail, a C grade.
So I turned to my mentor for help. She kindly sent me a copy of reports she had written for a similar class and said I should use those to guide me.
Now here I make a shocking admission… I copied and pasted several of them! I know! How AWFUL, how DECEITFUL of me!!
You’ve done it before too?
It turns out, in the years since that guilty moment (Ctrl C, Ctrl V!) I have chatted to many, many colleagues who have done and continue to do the same thing. Maybe not always from other teachers but our first reports must come from somewhere and so we save them. And then the next year, when that huge task comes around again we browse through our reports folder and read a couple for inspiration.
But oh, Girl A from 2012 is so similar to Girl B in 2013… There’s really no point writing this out again…
Ctrl C, Ctrl V.
As a tutor, I read reports every year where this has obviously been done but the teacher has made a careless error such as not swapping ‘he’ to ‘she’ or occasionally not changing the name at all! I pretend to be shocked by this carelessness but I correct the error, save the report and move on to checking the next, safe in the knowledge that other people are just as guilty as I am. I remember being pleasantly surprised when I found banks of useful comments on TES clearly labelled with the instruction, “just copy and paste!”
My argument is that I simply do not have the imagination or extensive vocabulary to write completely new, original reports for every child, every year. In an ideal world every report would be a work of great effort and a joy to read, each one reflecting that child’s true individuality in my lessons.
What I want to know is, are we doing something wrong? Is it so bad to copy and paste our reports and wait for parents’ evening to share our personal, individualised opinions of our pupils? Is there anyone out there who doesn’t do this?