Minister announces plan for e-school reports

Schools minister Jim Knight announced this week that school reports will be produced electronically.

Schools minister Jim Knight announced this week that school reports will be produced electronically.

All secondary schools will be expected to have "real-time" reporting systems up and running by 2010, and all primary schools two years later.

Knight, speaking at the BETT education technology show, urged schools to use computers and mobile phones to "break down barriers" between teachers and "hard to reach" parents from deprived areas or ethnic minority groups.

Real time reporting, Knight said, will mean parents will be able to access frequently updated information on children's progress using secure online systems.

The government's schools ICT agency, BECTA, will be advising head teachers on how to exploit their technology.

Knight pledged £30m for low income families to help them gain access to internet and computer technology at home.

But teaching unions expressed concern about the effects the policy may have on teachers' workloads.

The National Union of Teachers said in a statement, "Jim Knight has to be far more specific about his goals for real time reporting to parents. We will treat this aspiration with caution. There has to be the hard evidence from a pilot scheme which includes the effects on teachers' workload before we can accept claims that real time reporting is workload neutral. Until a proper pilot, independently evaluated, happens he cannot claim that there will be no increase in workload".

The Professional Association of Teachers added, "There are also complex data security issues to be addressed in allowing access to school systems, particularly in light of recent losses of government-held data."

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