What is reporting for? | Abingdon Senior School

What is reporting for?
By Ronnie Reading, Director of Teaching and Learning

I am standing in the cafe on my duty day, watching the boys devour cookies and munch their way through bacon butties, when I hear an odd conversation:

“I’m a V2 in Maths what about you?”
“I’m a G3, but I don’t know why I’m only a G3 coz I got a great mark in my last test!”
“Well at least you’re not a C4 as xxx is in English!”

Are we really giving our students such labels? Is it helpful for them to categorise themselves as a letter and a number? Surely our reporting system is more nuanced than this?

So began my research into the meaning of reporting and the discussions around the impact of reporting.

The cafe dialogue worried me. Reporting felt, from this conversation, as if the students were focusing on grades and disregarding the comments made by a teacher on what was going well or what could be done to improve. Surely, if we value the current educational research on the importance of feedback, and our marking policy encourages boys to look at comments before any grade or mark is given, then our reporting system should echo this approach? We encourage the boys to review, reflect, respond and remember when it comes to feedback on their work. What is their role in the reporting cycle?

What if the reporting cycle moved from a passively received document to an active process, one that could have the potential to encourage reflective, independent thinking as well as opening up communication between teachers, students and parents?

So let me unveil a reporting system whereby all involved (the student, parents, teachers) know that a student has settled into their school year well and (at the end of the term) they are given feedback on how the student is doing academically, their attitude to learning, participation in Other Half and any pastoral aspects. Michaelmas Term – tick.

Then the student has the opportunity to reflect on the feedback he has been given by his teachers in his Michaelmas term report, before discussing with teachers and tutors some specific goals for progress in his subjects. He notes these down and has a conversation about this, followed (at the end of the term) by a report that gives the teacher’s feedback on the level to which he has managed to develop these goals. Lent term – tick.

Conversations at parents’ evenings and end of year reports would finish the process. Summer term – tick.

So, what is reporting for?

It’s an active process whereby the communication between stakeholders is fluid and dynamic. A cycle of meaningful dialogue. Relationships are key to self esteem and confidence and a huge strength in Abingdon’s pastoral system. Building this into the reporting cycle will surely build more meaningful conversations.

I would love to hear in the cafe:

“So what are your goals in French?”
“I’m going to learn more vocabulary by using the apps on Firefly more regularly”

Although I’m fairly sure I will more likely hear:

“Can anyone lend me some money to get some cookies?”

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