When I first became a School Governor, one of the first jobs that I got involved with was helping to produce the ‘Annual Report’. I remembered them from when I was at school – every year we would be given a fairly dull but important looking booklet to take home to our parents. It perhaps shouldn’t have been a surprise that compiling these things was the only thing more painful than trying to read one.
But things are different now. Changes made in the Education Act 2005 means that the Governors’ Annual Report is no more, and has been replaced with the School Profile.
The idea of the School Profile is that it defines a standard way for schools to report to parents. Every school answers the same questions in the same format. This makes it far easier for parents to make comparisons between different schools – rather than trying to read differences and distinctions in the different information that Annual Reports from different schools chose to include and how they presented it.
All of the information is collected into a single place online, which means that the information itself becomes the important bit, rather than the differences in presentation between a glossy professional booklet from one school or photocopied black-and-white stapled pages from another.
An introduction to the School Profile, and the information that it includes can be found on the direct.gov.uk. But overall, I like it, and think it is an improvement on the old Annual Report approach.
There are obvious benefits to parents, like the ability to make comparisons between schools and getting a consistent, guaranteed set of useful information.
It is also useful to Governors as well – it means we don’t have to pretend to be poor graphics-designers once a year, as well as having to decide what we should include and how to present it. Comparisons with other schools is also beneficial for us, giving us another way to measure our effectiveness.
And from a time-saving perspective, the central system where the Profiles are stored allows for raw statistical information (e.g. number of students etc.) to be filled in automatically – leaving the Governors to focus on the more narrative and descriptive sections of the Profile. This ensures that our focus is in describing our objectives, and explaining and justifying the efforts we have been making to improve the school – rather than concentrating on collecting and presenting reams of statistical information.
Incidentally, the School Profile idea isn’t all that new – it’s a topical subject for me today because I’ve been working on ours. You might notice that our profile is conspicuous in it’s absence!