Secondary school report

Yesterday, my son handed me an envelope and said ‘don’t tell me off about all the red’. Well, he’s said it. What else was I going to do?

The envelope contained his school report. It’s not really a school report as I know it, it’s just numbers and colours – green if you’ve got better, white if you’ve stayed the same, red if you’ve got worse. There were four boxes of red and I wasn’t happy. Because I don’t see my son making any effort, I don’t see him doing any homework. Frankly, he probably deserves this red. But you can bet your bottom quid that, when his brother and sister bring home their glowing reports, he will kick right off that they are getting praise and we didn’t praise him that much.

But can we compare? Are the reports the same?

It made me start thinking back. Way, way back. When my son started school, it took me a while to adjust – to him being a school child and me being the parent of a school child. To be honest, it probably took me three years, until my younger son was there too, before I felt properly comfortable with school. Now, I am VERY comfortable with our primary school. I love it. I totally get it. I’m a school governor, I’m in my eighth year as a parent there, I’ve got two kids there, I help out there. I totally understand it.

But history is repeating itself. My son has gone off somewhere else that I don’t get. But the difference is, I’m not waiting in the playground, I’m not taking him there in the morning. I wonder if I will ever really get it.

So he brings home a report with loads of numbers and red on it. Am I right to be disappointed, or is this just the way it is at secondary school? Do I need my younger son to be at secondary too before I truly understand what it’s all about?

Well, here’s the thing. I think, even though I’ve not quite adjusted to the whole secondary school idea, I AM right to be disappointed. Yes, primary school reports contain some fluffy words, but reports from our school contain numbers too, which are increasingly based on very hard evidence of children’s attainment against strict criteria. Those numbers carry through Key Stage 1 (that’s the infants if you’re not familiar with school), through Key Stage 2 (the juniors), into Key Stage 3 (the early years of secondary school) and beyond. The numbers relate to (SATs) Levels and sub-levels. The numbers are the same whether you are in year 2 or year 7. Scarily, it is perfectly possible for a year 7 to be getting the same numbers as a year 2.

These reports, whether primary or secondary, show progress from one term to the next. And in the case of the secondary school, if there’s no progress, there’s going to be red on the report.

I’m not going to be cross this time, but nor am I going to be taken in by the typical tween/ teen protest of: ‘But everyone else had more red than me!’. I may not understand secondary school, but I understand progress and working hard.

And I’m going to make damn sure my son works hard and makes some progress from now on. Because next time there will be no Mrs Nice Mummy.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. When I was at school I got a mark out of 10 for each lesson and the teacher would write a comment, some were v constructive (some were utter rubbish!). My parents never realised but I used those comments to get better. I’m not sure how just a red and green would make someone better at something. I’m not sure how useful they are just like that?

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  2. I am struggling too with the move to secondary school and an apparent reduction in progress of my son. I blogged about it today.
    Good Luck and keep in touch.
    Kate on Thin Ice.

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  3. There is sometimes a dip in progress in y7 as students adjust to secondary school and expectations etc. The teachers should also be writing comments in their books on how to get better regularly. They will also be explaining this regularly in class.

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  4. I think the reason you are right to be cross is in the sentence ‘I don’t see him make any effort’ Betsys school helpfully have an effort score as well as an achievement one, which really helps me, as in my eyes I don’t mind if she fails as long as she has tried her best. I am annoyed by no effort, I am not annoyed by not not understanding, struggling with a topic etc, I will try to help with those things, and get the schools support, but effort is all down to them- I can only nag, can’t do it for them!

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  5. Like Sonya said, I’d be disappointed too because you have said you haven’t seen him make any effort. Something my mum always drummed into me was that as long as I did try my best, she couldn’t be angry with me.

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  6. I know what you mean about getting used to things at school. I did quite a lot of work with the early years dept of the school where I am a governor before H got there. I’m reasonably confident on KS1 now, but aware that KS2 is only round the corner and secondary school is a whole new ball game.
    It’s annoying that he hasn’t tried. It’s a difficult transition year, but if he hasn’t tried then there is no wonder there is red on his report.

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  7. Thanks very much for your comments and support, everyone, I really appreciate them!
    Tas – what an amazing self-starter you were – wish my son could be spurred on like this!
    Kate – it’s good to know we’re both going through a similar thing and it’s not unusual.
    Sonya and MG – there is an effort mark too and one of those has dipped. Some are C, which I don’t think is good enough. I never see him do homework, which is disappointing.
    Bribery works well here too, Anon!
    There’s so much to learn, Erica! You get used to one thing and the next thing comes along!

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  8. Hey Sarah. I didn’t get round to an April Education Roundup due – the dog ate my laptop – so I’m including this in the May Roundup. I agree on the effort factor, I suppose the big challenge is working out how to inspire your son to make that effort. I look forward to reading another post on how that’s going.

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  9. Thanks very much, Luci, I’ll look for it in the next one. I’m sure there will be an update soon enough. Inspiring him is definitely the biggest challenge!

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