I'm an ex- teacher – what your child's school report REALLY means & why the phrase ‘they have potential’ is bad news

READING your child's school report can provide an exciting sneak peek into what your little one is really like when you're not around.

But have you ever wondered what teachers consider when they write the reports, and what some of the commonly-used phrases ACTUALLY mean?

Former teacher and founder of Love Outdoor Learning, Carol Murdoch, from West Lothian, Scotland, explains: "Writing the end of term reports was always a challenge.

"We had a very short word count to try and convey a full year worth of learning and experiences. 

"For me, the aim of the report was to provide a snapshot of where the child is at educationally, guidance towards their next steps and most importantly highlight their achievements that year. 

"You wanted the parents to understand that their child was amazing because they are. 

"But I was also aware that this forms a piece of life history – I am 40 this year and still have some of my old reports tucked away.  

"Like most teachers, I had a wide selection of phrases that I could adapt to describe the child in the report.  

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Children who are noted for their large group of friends are likely to be little chatterboxesCredit: Getty
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Former teacher Carol reveals exactly what teachers are really thinking when they write particular phrases in school reportsCredit: Carol Murdoch

"The challenging side of teaching isn't actually the teaching but the paperwork and admin!"

Here, Carol reveals what certain popular phrases really mean.

'Very keen to participate in all activities'

This means the child is super enthusiastic.

They can often forget to put their hand up or wait their turn in their excitement.

However, they also give energy to the class.

'They need to remember to listen to others'

This child is confident and assertive.

However, sometimes too much so – and can find it tricky to take onboard others opinions.

They need to listen more, but they can also be great team leaders. 

'They support their peers with learning the rules'

This child knows the rules and will remind others if they are overstepping.

They will also happily tell adults their classmates perceived misdemeanours as well. 

This is a tricky one, as it can impact upon the child's relationships with others in the class.  

'They are extremely self confident'

Children who are highly confident can find it hard to be told they are wrong.

However this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

This self belief can be helpful in life.

'They are a pleasure to teach'

This means 'your child has kept me sane this year!' 

The chances are this child has a great sense of humour.

'They have a wide group of friends'

This child will likely talk to everyone and anyone – regardless of what they should be doing!

They are a social butterfly, and very good at building relationships. 

'They have the potential to…'

I would often use this when I knew a child could achieve more, if only they challenged themselves a little more, or focused. 

It is a nice way of giving a wee nudge!

Additionally, 'Super Headteacher' Leon Hady explains common phrases that your child’s teacher may use during a parents evening, and what they really mean too.

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