Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
Image of Hilary Wilce

The Quandary - 10 Sep 2009

My sonís independent school doesnít post his reports home until the start of the holidays. Should we complain?

Hillary's Advice

The point of school reports and parent-teacher conferences are to help home and school work together for the good of the child. In your case you say you get two parent-teacher conferences a year, in term-time, but your sonís two annual reports are posted home at the start of the Christmas and summer holidays, so you canít discuss them with teachers.
In fact this is a common system, since reports are often conveying end-of-term results. I agree itís frustrating not to be able to take up any issues with the school until the following term, but for me a much more important question is: what information do you have to hand when you meet your sonís teachers at your two scheduled conferences? Is the school good at keeping you abreast of his progress? Because if you turn up with no hint, that he is, say, floundering in French or not turning in his maths homework, then the news is going to take you by surprise and the conferences are not going to be nearly as coherent and considered as they could be.
I, personally, would accept the limitations of when reports are sent home provided I was happy with how these parent-teacher conferences were run, and felt that home-school relations were generally good. But if I felt that the schoolís main aim was to keep parents off its back, and that sending reports out at holiday times was an intentional part of this, then I would press for changes.