Marking and Feedback
This has been a common theme for a long time but still remains a focus. Now, however, there is more emphasis on what happens afterwards. This is true of all phases and across the whole spectrum from Outstanding to Requiring Improvement.
What do schools do?
A great number of schools employ a variety of strategies under the umbrella “next step marking,” but what does that really mean? Often the teacher will write comments about what the pupil has done well or not so well and often adds a corrective statement or outlines something the pupil should do next. However, this is insufficiently followed up and frequently there is no check on whether the pupil has responded by firstly reading and secondly taking action.
This means a critical element of the learning and assessment cycle is missed – reflection and improvement by the learner. Thus the marking is not formative or as effective as it could be, with the learner not really seeing the point, even though the teacher has worked very hard and spent a considerable amount of time doing it!
What should schools do?
One question teachers often ask is “Do I have to mark every piece of work?” The answer to this is not a simple one, because there may be different purposes for different types of marking.
The questions that should be asked first are:
- “Why am I marking?”
- “Who am I marking for?”
- “What do I want to achieve?”
Asking these questions might result in answers like these:
- To enhance learning.
- For the pupil.
- Understanding by the pupil about what they have learned and what they might need to improve.
Consideration of these outcomes will inform the school’s policies and practices. This is especially true when considering how they can ensure that No 3 is established, because this is the crucial link in the learning cycle. This is what most schools are referring to when talking about “next step marking.”
Developing Effective Practice
For marking to be effective it should be selective, formative and reflective. Jackie Beere talks about DIRT time – “dedicated improvement and reflection time” which stresses the importance of giving pupils time to reflect and respond to teachers’ feedback and highlights the improvements that can be gained from the process.
This means that the reflection and action time has to be planned into the teaching and learning cycle and consistently undertaken. Given this status, pupils will see it as an integral part of learning and will see the benefits. This will also strengthen the links between marking and assessment for learning, especially self and peer assessment.
This gives real point to the practice of marking and will ensure the time you take in doing it is well worth it in terms of outcomes.
Watch out for our related blogs in the near future on:
- Questioning – linked to assessment and marking;
- Ofsted – the latest separation of myths and facts about inspection.
We are happy to provide INSET or training days for whole schools or teams on any aspect of School Improvement. For further information on any related aspect please contact Louise, Rob or Hannah on 0800 788 0444.