Evaluating your child’s school report can sometimes be difficult. Grading systems reflecting effort and attainment differ from school to school. Teachers’ comments can often appear a bit politically correct or vague, so you are left trying to decipher what has perhaps been implied, but has not been said. Read the accompanying notes carefully to gain an understanding of what the grades or scores mean and where this places your child ‘s attainment against peer or national averages. It might be a good opportunity to test the schools pupil monitoring and assessment strategy by asking your child to explain this to you, to see if the school has discussed their report with them, when target setting their individual educational objectives for the following term.
Review alongside the previous report to identify their subject strengths, areas where they have made progress or weaker points.
If you are separated from your partner, request for a copy of the report to be sent to each of you, so you both feel informed and can then praise, support and encourage from the same knowledge base.
Sit down with your child to discuss the report in an informal and non-confrontational way. Praise where they have excelled or made good progress, focussing on the positive first. Ask why they feel these areas are a strength. Do they find the teacher engaging, the subject interesting or the work easy? Do they feel challenged? If not, follow up with their tutor about the possibility of moving set or extension work?
Where they have not done so well, focus on the effort grade first. If there is room for improvement, discuss why they are not so engaged with this subject and how they might become more so. Are they easily distracted by peers? Have they been absent from school and not caught up on missed classwork? Can you support their learning at home or take them on themed outings to inspire a greater love for the subject? Try to focus questions on what they could do to improve the situation in the future, rather than on what they have not done in the past. If you can help to motivate your child towards better effort grades, attainment should hopefully look after itself!
If scoring well for effort, but not high attaining, discuss why? Ask the school what extra support might be available for their learning in these areas going forward.
Communication is key.
Dialogue between parent, child and school on a regular basis, should keep them on track. Never forget the motivational value of praise!