Thursday, 10 January 2008
Why school reports will never be the same again
One of the least understood, but most radical, changes to schools over the last ten years has been the much greater amount of factual information that teachers have about pupil progress and potential. Critics of tests and tables partocularly fail to recognise this. Most teachers can now use the data easily to set challenging but realistic personal goals for students, track how well they are meeting them, and exhort improvement where necessary. Having such data - where it is used to raise ambition, rather than to instil satisfaction with mediocrity - also means that parents can be kept much better in touch with their child's progress than has hitherto been the case. Bland or subjective school reports have been replaced with more objective facts. That's why the 2006 Education Act required schools to report home at least three times a year, and it is why it is excellent news that the schools minister, Jim Knight, is giving the idea such a push today. I have seen in schools like Shireland in Smethwick just what IT can do to transform home-school relations (as well as pupil achievement). Such innovation should now become the norm rather than exception.