I don’t believe it…. School Reports

A few weeks ago, up and down the country, parents received their children’s school report. Teachers had devoted many hours to composing the text which would sum up the extent of pupils’ learning, their understanding, new skills, behaviour and attitude to learning and aspects of their work they should improve on.

What difference will these reports make to children’s progress and learning as they begin a fresh academic year?

Just how accurate are these reports?

Do they predict the future paths the young people in question will take in life? Or are they misleading and way off the mark?

There are plenty of examples of reports written about people who have gone on to achieve great things in their chosen fields where the reports in question…..to put it simply……got it wrong.

Here is just a selection which will have you calling out “I don’t believe it!” ——

Richard Briers: ‘It would seem that Briers thinks he is running the school and not me. If this attitude persists one of us will have to leave.’

Robert Graves: ‘Well, goodbye Graves, and remember that your best friend is the waste-paper basket.’

Jilly Cooper: ‘Jilly has set herself an extremely low standard which she has failed to maintain.’

Michael Palin: ‘I think he is just a teeny bit pleased with himself – or so I am prepared to hazard.’

John Lennon: “Hopeless. Rather a clown in class. He is just wasting other pupils’ time. Certainly on the road to failure.”

Gary Lineker:” He must devote less of his time to sport if he wants to be a success”.

Peter Ustinov

“Peter tends to set himself very low targets which he then fails to achieve.”

David Bowie

“A quiet student who needs to stop playing with his motorcycles and learn that music will not make him a liveable wage.”

Stephen Fry

“He has glaring faults and they have certainly glared at us this term.”

Richard Branson

“He will either go to prison or become a millionaire.”

Albert Einstein 

Munich schoolmaster wrote in Albert Einstein’s school report, “He will never amount to anything”, 1895.

Charlotte Bronte 

School report said that she “writes indifferently” and “knows nothing of grammar”.


It is not just reports of celebrities and the famous that raise an eyebrow. Here are some of the comments to have graced school reports over the years:

“French is a foreign language to him”

“The stick and carrot must be very much in evidence before this particular donkey decides to exert itself”

“He has given me a new definition of stoicism; he grins and I bear it”

“At least his education hasn’t gone to his head”

I am sure you have your own favourites.



Mike Hodgkiss

Mike Hodgkiss has 36 years teaching experience in the secondary sector, twenty years as a deputy head in an 11-18 comprehensive school in Essex. He was a governor of a primary school for several years. He has led and coordinated training for staff in many aspects of teaching, learning and leadership not just in this country but in Europe too. He has written for EuroSchoolNet on international and citizenship projects and for ASCL's leadership magazine. He is currently editor of @Teachtalks.

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