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February 21, 2005


The Principal

It is indeed a regrettable fact that report writing loses its appeal and thus its inspiration as the academic year wears on, no doubt exacerbated by the now regulation half-term reports which add to the chores.

However, at least Hogwarts has avoided the suffocating blandness of the computerised comment bank, which was fashionable in the 90's and no doubt still exists in schools which pride themselves, however erroneously, on their business-like and technological efficiency. Quite apart from the tedium of having to draw all ones comments from the prescribed bank, the orthodoxy at that time was that reports should consist almost entirely of positive statements as in "This term the BW has studied the Babylonians. He has learned how to draw the Hanging Gardens. He has tried hard to understand why he needs to study these." Yes, well? So what? Is this good or bad? In other words, neither illuminating nor helpful to child or parent and certainly not calculated to inspire the teacher to analyse the child's potential or actual achievements either.

Fortunately when my school got manouevred down this route under the pressure to be 'cutting edge' I was able, as Principal, to carry on writing my own brief but I hope pithy comments, albeit only after wading through all the meaningless can-do statements dutifully typed in by each student's subject teachers.

I seem to remember having most fun report-writing years before when teaching a particularly bright but arrogant cohort of students whose parents, like the PO, relished a nifty turn of phrase and were not averse to coming up at Parents' Evening to say how much they had enjoyed my more caustic comments. The more the comments effectively 'skewered' their sons the better they liked them and they were certainly a lot more fun to write.

I suspect the BW's teachers will warm to their subject as he gets older, so let us hope we have plenty of gems to look forward to in the future.

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