Scottish schools have been back a while, and Welsh and English are caught up with planning the return this week and next. I don’t envy teachers or parents in these strange times. The return is going to feel and look quite different, and that’s if they are able to return. I particularly feel for those starting a new school, whether that’s because it is the time to move up or are beginning a new year somewhere new because parents have moved. The latter is something I can certainly relate to. I went to three different primary schools and two different secondary schools because of my father’s job. The longest I stayed in any educational establishment was three years, and up until moving to Winchester twenty years ago, the longest I had lived anywhere was seven years and the first three or four of those years I don’t remember!

The upheaval wasn’t always easy, but looking back through my school reports – all twenty one of them – I seemed to have coped reasonably well academically. Some of the reports though make me giggle, either because of the way it was written, or because of what I had got up to. I thought you might like to have a giggle at some of them too, I’ve even dug out some of my school ‘mug’ shots!

  • On leaving Goring Primary at the age of 7 years; ‘Rebecca is a pleasant quiet girl. She works with confidence in maths’

  • On arriving at Manadon Vale; ‘Her work is consistent and she reads well, though with a tendency to read too fast’

  • After 2 years at Manadon Vale; ‘A very relaxed, natural child who works well at all times.

  • On leaving Manadon Vale; ‘She is needs to be less anxious when tackling new areas of mathematics as often her fears are unfounded; she is not expected to master this work at the first attempt.

    Her charming personality will be missed when she leaves us!

  • After a year at Enborne; ‘Has a lively, inquisitive mind. She answers questions sensibly, and is full of original ideas when faced with a problem.

  • On her musical contributions at Enborne; ‘Rebecca always participates enthusiastically.’

  • On leaving Enborne for secondary; ‘It has been a pleasure to teach such a co-operative, conscientious and well mannered girl

So far so good then! I never did slow down with reading though and am happy to say I still think laterally and fortunately have become less anxious over learning new things. What on earth, however, is a natural child? I was born in wedlock, so goodness knows what this teacher was on about! However let’s turn our attention to what happened at my two secondary schools.

  • at the end of the first year at St Bartholomews: Rebecca has had an excellent First Year and is developing an air of quiet confidence

  • some tiny cracks were appearing in the second year; ‘I hope she will regain her characteristic efforts in French

  • and the cracks were still there in the third; ‘Rebecca does not always learn thoroughly‘, fortunately however the overall report was good ‘She has good social skills, she is confident in communicating, has a wide variety of interest and treats people with respect and kindness

  • On arrival at Warden Park; ‘Punctuation is generally sound, thought there is a tendency to use commas where full stops are needed. Spelling, too, is basically accurate.’

  • After a year; ‘Occasionally, Rebecca misses the point and becomes confused but I hope she will ask should the need arise

  • Just before the final exams; ‘She should get some high grades in certain subjects. In others, there is evidently some hard graft still ahead.

I was pretty pleased with the results in the end, but wish I had taken more care in deciding what to study at sixth form. I overstretched myself there and it was not helped by my college. It became very apparent at sixth form that I struggled in examination conditions. The college recognised the problem and in fact highlighted it repeatedly in my reports. However they didn’t actually help me to understand exactly what I was doing wrong, and consequently I failed to get the results I was probably capable of. Now 30 years later I know I have a tendency to not fully answer questions. I become side tracked or think I am being asked something different to what I am! Still they got one thing right I do ‘tackle everything with verve‘!

PS if you are reading this on your tablet or phone, I know the layout looks a little weird I’ve been playing columns and timelines in Gutenberg! It looks great on the laptop πŸ˜‰

69 thoughts

  1. What a little sweetie! I’m not entirely sure what natural child is either, but natural is a word I would apply to you, now I’ve thought about it.

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  2. Lovely pictures, especially the cheeky looking one you’ve used as the header! It must be tough being a teacher and having to come up with sensible comments for 30 different children. I would take natural as a compliment meaning doesn’t put on an airs and graces.

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    1. Thank you πŸ₯° yeah I don’t envy the teachers. I have to write reports for our student volunteers and some years it is a challenge being original!

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  3. Got to love those turtle necks, luckily for you yours wasn’t made via a knitting machine. Your schooling days sound like mine apart from the good reports πŸ™‚

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      1. No, not really bad, I was hyperactive and unfortunately limited attention span. Spent a few hours in the corridors and too this day I can still smell over ripe bananas from the kids bags πŸ™‚

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      2. Oh no, that’s really tough. Schools have never been great at diagnosis, let alone coming up with suitable teaching plans for those who need a different perspective.

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      3. It was as I wanted to learn and so was always put in the “dummy” classes. That was way back then when things were more black and white with political correctness wasn’t a thing! The school system really is only for the middle range intellect and those with learning disabilities and higher achievers miss out. One nephew needed extra teacher input as he got through his school work way ahead of his peers. He was fortunate as the Principal was able to supervise extra work for him.
        I landed up being a Kindergarten teacher and happily retired now πŸ™‚

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  4. Very cute and informative! Fortunately, all my old reports and photos have long since disappeared. At least I hope so. I remember ‘Must try harder’ made regular appearances on reports. Unlike you, I enjoyed exams so my results and grades tended to be better than my effort merited. I was exactly an astute kid, but even I recognized back then that exams alone weren’t a fair way to measure a child’s ability.

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  5. You certainly were as cute as a button. I am also guilty of “reading too fast.” Those teachers’ comments made me giggle. I can’t imagine American teachers writing that way. What a pity!

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  6. Great memories! I’ve photos and reports from back there too! Here in Canada the schools are starting next week! We can feel the tension in the air, it will not be easy for the kids, but much hard for teachers. I started back to work last week, it wasn’t easy to be all day with the mask and keeping distance, now I imagine the kids!

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  7. That was a fun read. In German – at least my generation and older (I can’t vouch for anybody else) you just get marks. No long commentary. Just a plain “2” or something (we have marks from 1 to 6, 1 being the highest – in tests you can get marks in .25 steps – i.e. a 3+ which translates as 2.75 but in the reports it’s only full marks. This is up to year 10. The last 2 or 3 years is a point system from 1-20. Ok, too much information I guess. … In German (and then I’ll shut up) a “natural child” = ein natΓΌrliches Kind makes perfect sense, it refers to a child who acts naturally and not contrived. Maybe the teacher was thinking in German πŸ˜€

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    1. ooh fascinating you only get marks in Germany – the commentary says so much more. They improved the marking system for a few years by giving grades on effort as well as output. So at least those of us who worked really hard but never got the answers still got credit!

      ooh Jude thought the same as you on the natural. You must be right πŸ™‚

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      1. In principle, I agree with the comments. However, having two boys very close in age (so they ended up with the same teachers, in English and US American schools) I found that the teachers used a lot of “copy and paste” (even when writing in long hand) so I didn’t trust those words too much to really say something about the children.

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      2. oh no 😦 that’s not good. I know they have lots to write but really they should be unique to each child. No wonder you didn’t trust

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  8. Funnily enough it sounds a bit like mine bit the downhill slide started around 5th form as I discovered guitars and girls lol So cute Becky. I wonder if I have any of my reports in the stuff I have from my Mums.

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    1. Hee hee, glad this made you smile. Hope you can find your reports, or at least some of them. Mine has been keeping me in giggles during lockdown!

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      1. I reckon they would. I am sure mine would have comments like Brian would do well if he concentrated on work and not the birds on the tree outside πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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      2. I reckon so too. I guess teachers should do the other stuff and parents do the important things like nature. Then again some parents…..sigh!
        I am glad I had a bit of all round learning from good teachers and excursions were about natyre or arts and music

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      3. You were fortunate as was I on nature and arts excursions, plus parents who lived it too. However these days both seem to be disappearing fast . . . as for encouraging girls into science!

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      4. Boy Scouts gave me an interest in the Australian bush. Camping a lot and exploring. Parents supportive as well. I was lucky to live near Rookwood Cemetary, one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere which was a playground where nature abounded among the old graves that weren’t maintained and the native flora grew back

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  9. Oh, a fun look back. Somewhere I have a folder of some bits my mum kept from my school years, but I have also ditched diaries etc some time ago in moves.., I do regret throwing the odd bit away….

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  10. Haha… Wonderful post. I don’t have any of my school reports, but I do know it went a bit downhill in my last years at the grammar school. I became a little rebellious 😊 I’d say a natural child was one who was just that, friendly, happy, child-like not putting on a show, being pretentious.

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    1. That makes sense on the natural, thought such an odd thing to say. Love the fact there are a few of us who went off the boil in later years!

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  11. You DO tackle everything with verve! That’s why I like you, and your blog! When we left France, I got so fed up with being teased about my inability to junk anything from my school panama hat to my old school reports that I did in fact junk them. And lived to regret it, as I predicted. Don’t let your mum dispose of those bits of family history! Here’s the story of the hat:https://margaret21.com/2013/12/31/my-old-school-hat/. As an aside, I first read this post on my phone, and it was fine.

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    1. awww thanks Margaret πŸ™‚ Mum does have a tendency to clear out, fortunately however anything with potential family history she sends to me first! So I have it all – I even have my ID bracelet from the hospital when I was born!!

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    2. oh what a story . . . you were so chuffed to have taken the step when you did it. It is so difficult isn’t it – trying not to hoard whilst also cherishing items that will always mean something

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