Objects of Substance- The Academic Report

Fortunately for Annie, the comments were positive, but this was not always the case. The archive also holds a rather different third form [Year 9] report, dated December 1957. Unfortunately, the student we might call Molly was not provided similar praise. M. Alexis Macmillan, Acting Head Mistress, wrote that she had “not worked seriously this term and her progress has not been satisfactory. She must consider school work of primary importance and work very hard indeed next year if she wishes to recover the ground she has lost.” No amount of elegant ink work would seem to alleviate the effect of such a pointed comment. This 1957 report also displays the percentage gained by the student, the highest percentage gained by a student in the group, her place, and the number of girls in the class. This clear comparison to other students was part of reporting from the time of Annie Parker through to the 1960s. Indeed, when I attended Grammar, at the end of every term throughout the year, the results for every subject examination taken by each student were prominently displayed for everyone to read in form rooms – and it was organised in order of merit. The public nature of this reporting was fine if your name was near the top but not so gratifying for students towards the other end. The 21st century reports are now digital and more private, with communication about each assessment piece sent out progressively as the evaluative procedures are completed. End of semester reports, interestingly, have a similar feel to the more austere 19 th century versions Annie Parker received. I wonder if, in one hundred years in the future, these modern versions will be accessed as easily and be as revealing as those lovely, yellowed, and treasured reports of Harriet [Annie] Parker.

Kristine Cooke [Harvey 1967] Director of the Library and Information Services

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