‘The improvement in his handwriting has revealed his inability to spell.’
One report simply said: ‘She attended the lessons.’
Nowadays, what do the report comments really mean? In the age of potential recrimination or litigation, the end of year report can be a minefield when every word is analysed. Emphasis is placed on writing positive comments, rather than the negative remark, otherwise teachers may end up with their own special report courtesy of the nearest Casualty department after receiving the fist of an irate parent.
Also, the use of bland and standardized comments from IT-generated school reports can make children sound robotic. For example:
‘He/She has progressed to the 3rd percentile and (insert pupil name) has demonstrated the ability to write independently, with hand/eye coordination, manipulate tools effectively in this context.’ (Meaning the pupil can use a pencil)
But what do the report comments actually mean? Here is a light-hearted look at some comments that can appear on pupil reports and what the teacher might really have thought.
Report comments and what the teacher really meant
Can express himself well = Never stops interrupting.
All-round ability = Needs to cut down on the break-time cakes, chocolate, sweets and energy drinks.
A happy pupil = hasn’t cried in my class, not even when the Head shouted at her.
A strong sense of right and wrong = Always tells tales about other children.
Good gymnastic skills = Can’t sit still for a moment.
Shows an enquiring mind = Have to keep my handbag out of sight or she will ask why I keep migraine tablets and vodka in it.
Homework always brought in on time = Rushed to finish it before school.
Well-organised = Parents have sewn name labels onto his socks and underwear.
Imaginative = Always thinks up good excuses for not taking part in games, which take five minutes to explain in persuasive detail.
Quiet = Didn’t say that she fell over at playtime and had hurt her arm, so it is not my fault that she was in A&E at midnight with a broken wrist.
A good awareness of audience = Makes sure that others are watching before doing their dying soldier impression.
Effective at peer evaluation = Likes telling others what they have done wrong and that she would have done it better.
A born leader = Bossier than the Head Teacher.
Needs to develop independence = Unable to dress himself properly and wears his clothes back-to-front.
It may, however, be reassuring to know that some teachers may be wrong in their reporting. For example, the following pupil reports were once written:
‘Certainly on the road to failure... hopeless... rather a clown in class... wasting other pupils' time.’ That particular pupil grew up to be a rather famous musician called John Lennon.
‘Too interested in sport – you can't make a living out of football.’ A description about footballer and commentator, Gary Lineker.
The teacher who wrote off a pupil with "He will never amount to anything," must have lived to regret the remark made about a young Albert Einstein.
All these howlers go to prove that teachers themselves can sometimes get it wrong and that they ‘could do better.’ Overall, though, the vast majority of teachers nowadays try to be fair to their pupils and write constructive report comments.
The question is: what did your school reports say about you?