At this time of the year, schools everywhere are involved in the writing of reports on their students providing information to parents on how their children are going. This is often a stressful, and time consuming time, for teachers in schools.
It begs the question:
Is there a better way to ensure that parents are provided with relevant information on their childrens learning while decreasing the workload and stress associated with this time of the year?
At St. Arnaud Primary School this has been a key area of discussion in recent times. These discussions have resulted in a new collaborative approach between teachers, students and parents to the provision of information on how children are progressing in their learning.
At St Arnaud Primary School students, staff, parents and the wider community all come together to educate our children. One of our goals is that students are active participants in their own learning and our parents are well informed with accurate, up to date data on the progress of their children.
Parent opinion survey data has continued to gradually improve in our school since 2006, in all but one area, reporting to parents. As a staff we also felt the school reports were often outdated by the time they got home. We questioned the extent to which they were read and whether the information was deemed relevant by parents. A follow up parent survey of targeted parents told us that our concerns were founded.
Through a process of trialling, piloting, feedback and reviewing, our reporting on student progress has evolved to include the following.
- “Win-Win Agreements” for every student in the school (formally known as Individual Learning Plans). Agreements include relevant assessment information on each student.
- Student led Parent/Teacher interviews four times a year. Each interview with a very specific purpose.
- Weekly emails to every parent from every teacher advising parents of the Literacy/Numeracy activities planned for the week ahead and other relevant information. Teachers also include brief information about their weekend, to continue to build that relationship between home and school. These are generally sent home on a Sunday evening.
With all these processes in place we then questioned the relevance of the traditional school report. We felt we were giving parents information they already had.The weekly emails have received considerable positive feedback, especially from working parents and split families.
So, with this in mind, in 2011 we began trialing an 18 month process where school reports involve simply reporting against the VELS and a one paragraph general comment. Half way through the pilot, we have had nothing but positive feedback. We also have very low stress levels from teachers and the principal regarding reports, which allows everyone to get on with the job of educating.
This proactive approach is part of our schools commitment to the ‘Leader in Me’ program
Photo from St Arnaud PS website