This year the school has reworded the reports. She has done very well with everyone remarking on her lovely personality and helpful manner and the only area she is struggling with continues to be maths. But this year the report states 'near the expected level'. We had a chat and I explained that this meant she was making good progress and the report was showing her that this was where she needed to put her efforts. She was very happy and bounced all over the place with the thought of success and challenges ahead.
What a difference the change of one word makes. We underestimate the power of words for motivation and self esteem. Please do not let the deficit words of 'below' or 'well below' anywhere near our students.