As a teacher, I used to write 300 reports, twice a year, so 600 reports in total. If we are optimistic and produce around 4 reports an hour that is still 150 hours a year, spent on reports, or 7,500 in a staffroom of 50 teachers - a significant drain on time and resources! Can we find a way to get some of this time back and spend it more effectively?
Traditionally, we have thought of reports as a way to keep parents updated about their child's progress and to keep lines of communication open between the home and the school. We have to ask ourselves, just how successful are we being in this regard and are reports still fit for purpose?
Firefly provides schools with the ability to share marks and feedback with parents, as well as reports, but further refinement would mean that schools and teachers no longer need to produce time-consuming (and often outdated), traditional reports. This would be popular with ALL teachers, parents would have better insight into their child’s education, and students would experience more joined up support from school and home.
What we are talking about here is a system of Continuous Reporting. In many ways this is nothing new in schools. Schools have already been doing this with comments, feedback and grades available in the students' exercise books for example. However, when this is done through an online system, feedback and assessment information can be made easily available to both students and parents, as well as stored centrally for teachers and leadership to see. This provides full visibility to everyone involved in the learning conversation in a simplified, accessible manner.
Benefits of Continuous Reporting
So why introduce continuous reporting in your school? There are significant benefits, not only to the learner, but also for teachers and parents.
- To start with, it gives the opportunity to act on the feedback whilst it is still relevant making it easier for the student to make progress, and for parents to participate in meaningful discussions with their child.
- Students have the opportunity to reflect on their work helping them to understand how they can improve and set actionable learning goals. Crucially, students can be proactive in their learning, rather than passive recipients.
- It’s easier for teachers to track progress over time. With feedback documented in a central, formalised and semi-permanent way teachers can work together to better support student learning and development.
- Finally, it means that conversations between teachers and parents are far more constructive as everyone has the same information as their starting point.
Managing Continuous Reporting
Technology means that reporting can now become an extension to teaching and learning - it can have a significant role to play in the learning process without adding to the burden of teaching. A Learning Management System for example helps schools to keep track of feedback, grades and reports, all in one place. This makes it simpler for students to review and reflect on their learning journey, whilst a connected Parent Portal can help to provide greater visibility to parents. In this way, the day-to-day feedback that students receive can form the backbone of reporting, and can be shared with students and parents in a timely manner.
Of course reports are not just about academic outcomes, and parents want to understand the complete learning experience of their child. Platforms like Epraise make it easy to recognise, reward and track the successes of students, as well as supporting behaviour management and classroom processes. Crucially, Epraise also makes this information available to parents giving them an overview of their child in every aspect of their learning and school experience.
Good reporting can make a real difference to learner outcomes, so surely it's time we took a look at the way we use reports and see if we can't make the process simpler for teachers and more useful for students and parents.
We know that students never stop learning, so why limit reports to once or twice a year?
If you would like to find out more about continuous reporting and how you might introduce it in your school, then download our FREE guide: Continuous reporting for effective teaching and learning.