The Headteacher’s report is the single most important document when it comes to supporting your board in fulfilling the three core functions of governance (see Governor Handbook);
Your Headteacher’s report should provide a strategic overview of the whole school, covering everything from staffing performance to school improvement priorities. Given the potential scope of the report, many Headteachers find it a challenge to strike the right balance between too much and not enough information. A quick search will bring up examples of Headteacher’s reports that vary in size from a few pages to over 60.
Over the years, we have reviewed hundreds of Headteacher’s reports and have come across the good, the bad and the ugly!
These are our tips on how to produce a report that your governors will love to receive!
Remember the purpose of the report
The single purpose of your Headteacher’s report is to keep your board focused on its strategic function and to not get distracted by activities of secondary importance.
Keep the content of your report focused and at a high-level to promote active discussion across the board. Adding too much detail in your report can lead the conversation down a more operational route.
As a rule of thumb, any information that does not help serve one of the 3 core functions should be omitted from the main report and included as appendices or communicated separately.
Remember who the report is for
Given the name, you would be forgiven for thinking it is your report, however, both the Governor Handbook and Education Act state that the content and scope of the report should be determined by the board and include information it needs to do its job well.
Asking your board for a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can produce regularly in a consistent format is a simple but effective way that the board can monitor school progress and improvement over a period of time.
We would recommend that KPIs are reviewed and agreed upfront at the start of each reporting cycle, this will ensure they are aligned with the current strategic priorities while also avoiding you being asked to produce information at the last minute.
To include graphs or not to include graphs
While the wrong graph can cause confusion and take more time to explain than it would just to write out the findings, the right graph can present your data in a clear and easy to digest format that encourages strategic conversion to take place.
For example, graphs are perfect to summarise data heavy sections such as pupil outcomes or for making comparisons between two reporting periods. The use of high-level management commentary can provide further context to the data if required.
Investigate different ways of presenting data in your report but make sure they are understood by your board.
Leave the comic sans (and pictures) behind
The Headteacher’s report is akin to a board report within a commercial environment and should be presented as a professional document. You may wish to consider the following when formatting your report;
>> Is your report as brief as possible while still providing the information that your board needs?
>> Can data heavy areas be effectively summarised in a chart or table?
>> Is it well structured? We find mirroring the Ofsted framework is a good way of structuring your report
>> Does your report include an explanation of any acronyms that have been used?
>> Are reports in a consistent format to help board members find the data they are looking for?
Don’t forget the good news!
A bit controversial and against the grain of other guides but personally we like to read about the good news, pupil achievements and the regular on-goings of school life.
Agreed it shouldn’t be front and centre of your report, but rather an appendix. This will help to re-enforce the positive impact the board is having on school life.