Written English Suffers In School Reports To Parents

Opinion / November 23, 2012

Ouch; the fact the English teaching resources in a school are not up the mark is one thing to advertise the fact is perhaps a significant shot in the foot.

Northgate High School in Suffolk has unfortunately tried to correct a fault in the use of English in written reports by teachers by hiring a proof reader. The school wants to improve the standard of English compiled by teachers in progress reports issued to parents. Coupled to the recent edict from the Secretary of State for Education to enforce minimum standards of competence for teaching resources in English literacy and maths, the timing of this reservation from Northgate serves to reinforce Michael Gove’s ideal.

Poorly written reports are anathema to parents who entrust the schooling of their children to their child’s teacher. Whilst we can all claim busy lifestyles and increasing work content the written report is the external arbiter on which parents can judge the schooling standards. Literacy mistakes significantly undermine the effect of the school report. But having spotted the error then commit to enlisting an external solution seems to have missed the point. Presumably the new proof reader will not be able to support the school children as well as the teachers. If not the standard of English in the school will reflect how efficiently the teachers respond to the proof reader’s advice and project this in their day to day teaching.

The need for teachers to compile typed electronic reports has put a modern emphasis on written English. The role of skilled secretaries that could type and check English at speeds undreamt of by we mere mortals has long gone. The self-generated report compiled by a busy teacher with a fist full of thumbs, relying heavily on spell check ( I include myself in this category) is perhaps a bridge too far. Couple this with tablet computers and smart phones which induce thumb tying, and speed usurps quality.

A happy medium is required. Clearly improved literacy proficiently in teachers is preferred as this will cascade down to the school children. In the meantime the Head teacher at Northfield is treating the symptoms rather than the cause. But above all I hope there are no typos in this comment!

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