In its recently published action plan on teacher workload, the DfE recommends that any assessment data you collect should follow the principle of ‘collect once and use many times’. Our next few blogs will look at how this can be put into practice: how your formative and summative data can be shared usefully with different audiences. As report writing season already seems to have started for a number of you, we thought the best place to start is in sharing progress with parents.
It’s a statutory duty for schools to share various things with parents in the period since their last report was sent. They must share the achievements, general progress and attendance record of each pupil, and this should be done at least annually.
Ofsted also emphasises the sharing of ‘clear and timely information on how well their child is progressing and how well their child is doing in relation to the standards expected. Parents are given guidance about how to support their child to improve.’
Obviously there’s many other reasons to share information with parents rather than just to meet a statutory duty! Parents want information about their child because they care about them and want to check that they’re doing OK. They also want to be able to support their child, academically, socially and behaviourally, and the information that teachers share with them helps them to do that.
How and when to share
Many schools have begun to explore and use different methods of communicating with parents. Traditionally, the most common way of sharing information with them has been the written annual report; often a lengthy, printed document that is hand delivered by pupil to parent. But we’re now talking to many schools who are finding it beneficial to send more frequent, shorter reports. This has a number of advantages including engaging with parents at key points throughout the year and reducing the amount of information in, and time required to write, the annual report.
Some schools are also moving away from sending a printed report and instead send reports via email or through online portals. The internet also gives a great opportunity to share more dynamic information. While a printed or emailed document can only provide historic information, some methods of online reporting can be updated in real time as teachers collect and update it. With over 80% of the UK population using the internet daily, and most who don’t being over the 65 bracket, online reporting will likely grow in popularity over the coming years.
What’s useful for parents to know?
As part of our ‘Changing the Conversation’ white paper series earlier this academic year, we gave a detailed review of the types of information that can be usefully shared with parents. The types of information that you share may vary at different times of the year and may fulfil different purposes. It may include:
- A summary of achievements
- Things that the pupil needs to work on
- Some examples of the pupil’s learning
- Resources to support learning at home
- An indicator of their current attainment against age related expectations
- Information about progress that has been made
Whatever you share with parents needs to be easy for them to understand, easy for them to engage with and easy for you to discuss with them.
Classroom Monitor users have a number of tools at their disposal to help share information with parents:
When creating traditional written reports, any formative assessment that has been recorded for an individual during the school year can be sent through to their report. This provides personalised sentences based on the pupil’s actual learning which can be shared as they are or edited by the teacher to create a written comment. These are generated as Word documents in a template set by the school so they have a consistent look and feel. The documents can then be printed, emailed or shared from within Classroom Monitor via the online portal.
Online reporting sessions can give parents a summary of their child’s attainment and progress over a period set by the school. This requires no extra effort from the teacher over and above what they are recording for teaching and learning purposes. Markbook assessments can be shared so parents can see what’s been achieved and what needs to be worked on, they can see any saved evidence, and resources can also be shared to support learning at home. Online reports have an added advantage in that the end date can be set for the future. This creates a report which updates automatically when the teacher updates the markbooks, so the parent always has an up to date view.
Classroom Monitor schools also have access to a range of ‘assessment summaries’ which can work really well as reports. Again, these simply output information that the teacher has already recorded in the markbook into a format that parents can understand and use. The Pupil Assessment Summary gives an overview of the child’s achievements and/or targets, the Assessment Progress Report can show pupil’s progress against markbook statements over time and the Learning Journey gives an output of all of the evidence that has been stored.
Of course, a written report can never fully replace the information that is shared with parents through the face to face conversations that take place over the course of a year. The great thing about assessment summaries and the pupil markbook is that they can give really useful reference points when you have those discussions in person.
Now may be a good time to reflect on how well your process of sharing with parents is working. For teachers who have diligently recorded formative assessment data, reporting could and should be really easy. This classroom based information also has the advantage of being rooted in what the children have actually been doing, making it more engaging for parents.