Marking and Feedback – what does it mean for your child?







JobbingTeacher is in the middle of a marking frenzy! My school is currently enforcing draconian rules on marking that is meaning that most staff are spending most of their work time marking books. (some even in lessons where they are teaching!). This has led me to consider a number of points which I have raised with my Headteacher;

  1. What is the purpose of staff ticking pages?
  2. If staff are spending so much time marking pupil’s exercise books what are they not doing?
  3. Is all of this marking helping to create good learning?

The answer to question 1 is not easily answered at my school. I have had the rather lame excuse that ‘it shows the pupil that you have looked at their book’. Well woppy do!!

Jobbing Teacher is not against good quality feedback. Let’s face it, we all want to know how well we are doing, what we could do better and what we need to do next, but this can be delivered in a variety of different ways –  Not just via writing endless versions of the same phrase. It is truly mind-numbing for all concerned.

When you try to get to the heart of the reasons behind this sudden need to have large amounts of red pen all over an exercise book you very quickly get to the spectre of Ofsted. I have discussed this at length in previous posts, but suffice it to say that the Ofsted tail without a doubt is wagging the educational dog. The Ofsted Dementors drift into your lesson for such a short space of time the only way they can make a ‘judgement’ on progress and learning is by having a quick shufty at the old exercise book.

Saying that, everyone knows that they have already made their mind up about the school based on a narrowly focussed data set and observations are just a way of padding out the report. Jobbing Teacher predicts that very soon, they will not bother coming to the school unless results dip. Hence the current frenzy of smoke and mirrors around exam results. Jobbing Teacher is reminded of Jeff Goldbloom’s quote in Jurrasic Park; “life will always find a way’. Teachers will always find a way to get around examinations to get the best possible results by whatever means they can. Hence the eternal battle of education secretaries changing the exam goalposts every few years and teachers finding new ways around the hurdles and on and on it goes.

Michael Gove this week has bullied Ofqual into dishing the dirt on a number of GCSE examinations that he considers to be too wishy-washy. Jobbing Teacher has some sympathy with this, particualrly where subjects overlap. However, why it has to be trumpeted as another strike of the education standards sword I do not understand. Poor kids just dont know whether they are coming or going and how are the ones who already have these ‘soft’ subjects going to feel?

I am sure that Michael Gove must have had a tough time at school. Maybe one of the masters of one of these subjects took a dislike to young Gove or he failed the test to take up the viola or something?

For parents, well I think we just have to take it all with a pinch of salt. Education is like a ladder where our children just need to get to the next rung. They will find the correct height to climb for themselves with some guidance from us as parents, but at the end of the day it is ultimately their life.

Jobbing Teacher is starting to hear a few worrying noises from our local 6th form college where former pupils who have been spoon-fed through their GCSEs are coming unstuck when they are expected to get on with their studying under their own steam. Now is it me, or was this inevitable?


Posted in Education Policy, Marking Policies, School Leadership, School Organisation

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