The problem with marking and how to solve it

2023-02-12T10:13:52+00:00January 31st, 2022|workload|

Every teacher - particularly English teachers - has huge existential guilt about marking. When I worked full time as a teacher marking was the first thing to go when the stress inevitably piled up. And if we excoriate ourselves sufficiently to make sure mock exams and termly assessments receive sufficient attention, who's got time to keep up with all those Key Stage 3 books?, There are only so many hours in the day and the only way to survive the brutal realities of teaching is to make correspondingly brutal choices. Pretty everything teachers do has value, but it's unavoidably true [...]

The role of teachers is not to make managers’ lives easier

2016-02-29T19:17:28+00:00February 29th, 2016|behaviour, leadership, workload|

"To supervise people, you must either surpass them in their accomplishments or despise them." Benjamin Disraeli Questions about the purpose of education divide and bedevil: there's no real agreement about what education is for. But what about teachers? Surely, even if we disagree about what exactly teachers ought to teach we all at least agree they should be teaching children something? And - at least in theory - I think we do, broadly, agree that teachers should teach. Whatever your ideological stripe, you probably agree that the education of children - whatever that means - is the main thing. Everything else is peripheral. [...]

New Year's resolutions for teachers and school leaders

2016-01-01T12:56:10+00:00January 1st, 2016|workload|

We have more ability than will power, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible. François de La Rochefoucauld It's a new year, with no mistakes. In the few days left of the Christmas break thoughts will inevitably turn to the term ahead and how we can do whatever it is we do better. Just in case you're not sure how to turn this vague sense into a reality, here's a handy list of off-the-shelf resolutions you might like to use or adapt. Teachers Follow the school rules – they are there for everyone’s [...]

Marking: What (some) Ofsted Inspectors (still) want

2015-12-05T12:59:28+00:00December 3rd, 2015|workload|

It is up to schools themselves to determine their practices and for leadership teams to justify these on their own merits rather than by reference to the inspection handbook. UPDATE: There is a happy(ish) ending to this sad story. As you will no doubt be aware, Ofsted has gone to great lengths to clarify its position on marking. In October 2014 it very helpfully published this clarification document which, from September 2015 has been incorporated into the Inspection Handbook. In it, several pervasive myths relating specifically to marking are addressed: Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, [...]

Workload, retention & accountability: One policy to rule them all

2015-11-22T09:52:46+00:00November 22nd, 2015|leadership, workload|

More men are killed by overwork than the importance of the world justifies. Rudyard Kipling There's a lot wrong with the way schools are held to account which result in perverse incentives for school leaders to treat teachers less well than we might want. There are also huge fears about a recruitment and retention crisis in education:  Teachers seem to be leaving the profession in droves and new cannon-fodder is failing to step up to the plate in sufficient numbers. Teachers feel overworked and under-appreciated. The two reasons most often cited for leaving the profession are unnecessary workload and poor behaviour management [...]

Marking and feedback are not the same

2016-05-24T13:47:04+01:00September 19th, 2015|workload|

Feedback is, we're told, the most powerfully important invention in which a teacher can engage, but marking students' books can be mind-numbingly tedious drudgery. Because of this tension, many schools have introduced strict marking policies and work scrutiny schedules to make sure that teachers don't shirk this crucial responsibility. But, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am becoming that marking and feedback are two quite separate things. Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines marking thusly: And here are two different definitions for feedback: Obviously, this doesn't prove anything other than that in the public mind, marking and feedback are considered [...]

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