I recommend this elective as a Module C poetry option because it offers a range of poems that are interesting and accessible.
‘Reports’ highlights what the poet feels are shortcomings in the Education System. As an ex-Head Teacher, Fanthorpe has expertise in this area; her focus on the sort of report comments that are so generalised and clichéd that they become meaningless. Many teachers would be familiar with the sort of report comments that are condemned. The monologue's jaded and cynical voice suggests this systemic approach is 'safer' than being too blunt and that school is not a very productive environment. Comments like ‘so don’t bother’ or ‘don’t give them anything to take hold of’.
Fanthorpe also uses report comments to chart a person’s journey through life, ‘sound beginning’ and ‘could have done better’. She uses religious imagery, ‘Parent, child, head, unholy trinity, will read your scripture backwards' to stress the gulf between classroom reality and report comment. Her work was greatly admired by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who argued that ‘Fanthorpe perfected a monologue technique for our times, dusting down a form that had been little used since Browning.’