Despite the fact that many teachers believe marking is necessary to provide children with valuable feedback and help them improve in the future, Ofsted doesn’t share the same sentiment.
In a myth-busting factsheet, Ofsted said it “does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy.”
In other words, as long as schools get the required results out of students, marking isn’t absolutely essential.
So, does this pave the way for a marking revolution? Many teachers have scrapped marking altogether in favour of progress meetings with students, which have been found to bring about the following benefits:
- Empower children – Progress meetings will empower children to take ownership of their learning. Use this opportunity to review what they learnt the previous week, set targets for the coming week, and discuss any concerns. Don’t forget the importance of praise either.
- Establish strong relationships – If you show a genuine interest in how your students are getting on, they’ll be much happier in the classroom and respond by working harder. This will lead to a much stronger teacher-student relationship.
- Help slower learners – For children who take longer to learn or have behavioural issues, regular progress meetings can ensure they stay on track by breaking down student-teacher barriers. Consider bringing in a Learning Support Assistant for further help.
- Keep parents on your side – Even if you reduce your marking workload, parents won’t be overly concerned as long as their children are enjoying school, performing well, and learning more. Parent-teacher relationships can be tough, but regular progress meetings show you truly care about your student’s welfare.
The end of marking as we know it?
Deciding to stop marking your student’s work is not as easy as it sounds. After all, you’ll need to rearrange timetables to schedule in progress meetings, especially in classes of 30 pupils or more.
However, no or minimal marking could potentially reduce staff stress levels and workload concerns, as well as increasing the learning capacity of students. In turn, school attainment could soon show an upward trajectory.
It might sound like a distant dream or even an unfeasible reality, but there are several resources and tips out there to help reduce your reliance on marking:
- Huntington Research School provides advice for teachers to “tame the marking monster” based on the Education Endowment Foundation (EFF)’s Putting Evidence To Work: A School’s Guide To Implementation.
- In this Telegraph article, the head of Bedminster Down School in Bristol said that issuing pupils with grades, scores and comments on their work comes across as negative, and does little to encourage children to improve.
- In this Third Space Learning article, the head of St Matthias School in Bethnal Green shunned marking in favour of teaching pupils to think about the work they just learnt, otherwise known as ‘self-checking’.
- This BBC video shows a primary school in Peterborough that decided to abolish marking in favour of one-on-one feedback sessions with pupils.