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Room for improvement?

To reflect on school reports and how you can change your future for the better

by Joanne Sincock

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To reflect on school reports and how you can change your future for the better.

Preparation and materials

  • None required.


  1. This is the time of year when your teachers are busy writing your end of year report. This can be a difficult task. For many teachers they may have to write hundreds of reports in a very short space of time. Trying to think of something original to say is quite hard, especially when they have to talk about students who may not have done very well.

  2. For many school students it can also be a very worrying time. How have I done this year?  Have I improved on last year?  What will my parents say when they read it?

  3. Of course, these feelings are nothing new. For several hundred years children have dreaded the annual summary of their work, effort and behaviour.

  4. In the opening chapter of Matilda by Roald Dahl, the author describes how parents sometimes think that their child’s achievements are at the level of genius. Dahl, puzzled by such ‘twaddle’, counsels teachers to resort to foul play when writing reports. He suggests teachers write that a child with limited ability is ‘a total washout’. Dahl implies that if he were a teacher, he would enjoy writing the ‘end-of-term reports for the bad children in his class’.

  5. Here are some real reports written about famous people. See if you can guess to whom they belong:

  6. ‘Certainly on the road to failure … hopeless … rather a clown in class … wasting other pupils’ time.’
    (One of the most successful musicians of all time: Beatle, John Lennon.)

  7. ‘Is a constant trouble to everybody and is always in some scrape or other. He cannot be trusted to behave himself anywhere. He has no ambition …’
    (Sir Winston Churchill: voted greatest Britain of all time.)

  8. ‘I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of organising his thoughts on paper!’
    (Roald Dahl: the most popular children’s author ever.)

  9. These comments are all pretty harsh, and we will never know if they were really deserved. We do know, however, that in later life these three men all achieved great things.

  10. Perhaps this means that there is hope for students who receive even the most awful school report. Maybe through hard work and perseverance. By never giving up and completing our daily tasks to the very best of our abilities, we can achieve our true potential.

Time for reflection


What sort of report do you hope to get?

What sort of report do you think you deserve?

What sort of report do you think you will get?

Whatever your report includes, resolve to always:

Work hard,

Do your best,

And NEVER, EVER give up.




Dear Lord

We hate being judged and found wanting,

Help us to ensure that we always give our best,

Always try our hardest,

And always strive to achieve.


‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Come and Praise, 52)

Publication date: July 2005   (Vol.7 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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