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Saturday Thunks

Reporting to Parents Without Levels #SaturdayThunk

I’ve decided to try to put together some Saturday Thunks based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week.  It could be a series of one or something I do regularly depending upon whether people find them of interest or use.

Photo Credit: Gian Luigi Perrella via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Gian Luigi Perrella via Flickr cc

The Saturday Thunk will be deliberately kept short and take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger.  The intention is so it can be read in a few minutes whether you’re relaxing or busy running around on you day off.

Reports Without Levels

For the past three decades teacher have been used to writing reports, from Key Stage 1 to 3, with levels and then sub-levels as a way of summarising a child’s attainment.  Mythical progress was described by reference to levels and what to do to get the next level or sub-level commented on.  Our World has just changed.

Schools and teachers will leave levels, as we knew them, behind this year and parents are going to have to get use to a new way of their child’s work at school getting reported.  I was invited along to one of the academy’s senior leadership team meetings this week to listen to, reflect on and then join in a discussion about reporting to parents.  As instructed I managed not to say anything for about twenty minutes, whilst I listened to the thoughts around the table which was a minor miracle in itself.  The discussion was focussed on reporting for Years 7-9.

What was interesting was how difficult it was for the leaders involved to let go of the legacy levels has left behind.  People kept trying to get a number or something like it onto the report page.  Also central to the discussions was the system must lessen or minimise the workload on staff.  It also had to be understandable and useful to parents in helping their child progress.  Here are a few thoughts which are could be developed into a system:

  1. Would it be meaningful and manageable to RAG (Red, Amber & Green) rate each child’s progress against the milestone and end point success criteria in the schemes of learning?  We have been working hard to develop these criteria as part of further strengthening the curriculum within all our academies – see Classroom Excellence Demands Destination Clarity.
  2. How much time and effort would it take to produce a computerised database of these milestone and end point success criteria so at the press of a button each student had a focus area of learning or two to work on in their report?
  3. If we are setting formative targets (focus areas) should we move these reports nearer the beginning or middle of the year so parents and teachers had the opportunity to intervene and assist the child in their learning?
  4. How long would we need to compile or signpost to a set of activities, internet sites, reading resources related to the focus areas for learning so children and young people, supported by their parents whenever possible, can take responsibility for acting on the areas given?
  5. The World of reporting is changing.  What will your new approach be?  Thanks to Dame Alison Peacock who shared some of the reports from her school with me over the summer.


7 thoughts on “Reporting to Parents Without Levels #SaturdayThunk

  1. Interesting thoughts…. We report to parents in October and June. Our parents spend a session in nursery in term 2 when they have an opportunity to talk with the teacher about progress. As a preschool head teacher I find that our parents frequently challenge staff regarding the Red Amber Green system and ask for the info to be reviewed as they believe their child performs at a higher level. This can cause difficulty.

    Posted by Marian | September 12, 2015, 8:12 am
  2. Just put this in the Newsletter. It will replace formal reports apart from Y11 used for post-16 applications. It means teachers formatively assess work every 6 weeks and comments double up as reports. In between we have weeks of peer and self assessment and ‘live’ marking in class, as well as verbal and whole class feedback summarised where helpful by students. Would be really interested in your thoughts? We don’t use grades at all at KS3 – although the Amber, Green, Exceeding (purple) is generated from GCSE target grades and worked back. We will keep it under review by getting feedback from parents students and staff:

    “Our new assessment and feedback cycle now means that parents will receive information on progress every three weeks. Students’ exercise books/journals/portfolios etc. will be formally reviewed on a six weekly basis and staff will identify a strength, two progress pointers and an RWCM (literacy and numeracy) pointer. These will be printed on stickers which will go into students’ planners and exercise books. Parents/carers will therefore be able to see what students are being asked to focus on in order to support them. Three weeks after this students will sit a summative assessment that will test not only what they have learned over the previous six weeks, but also over a longer period of time in order to prepare for the requirement to recall information for the move to linear examinations. Teachers will use this data to share with parents/carers whether a child is making exceptional progress, making expected progress or not making the expected progress. An attitude to learning (ATL) score will also be given for each subject to indicate the level of engagement in lessons. This process will be reviewed by our parent/carer focus group in order that we can continue to work together to create the best opportunities for our students to make progress.”

    Posted by Patsy Weighill | September 12, 2015, 4:29 pm


  1. Pingback: ORRsome blogposts September 2015 | high heels and high notes - September 30, 2015

  2. Pingback: Rethinking Target Setting, Flight Paths and Pupil Tracking | @LeadingLearner - October 18, 2015

  3. Pingback: Reporting to Parents Without Levels #SaturdayThunk | rwaringatl - October 19, 2015

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