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, [...]

Opportunity knocks: the hidden cost of bad ideas

2015-12-05T13:05:52+00:00November 30th, 2015|leadership|

Remember that Time is Money. He that can earn Ten Shillings a Day by his Labour, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of that Day, tho’ he spends but Sixpence during his Diversion or Idleness, ought not to reckon That the only Expence; he has really spent or rather thrown away Five Shillings besides. Benjamin Franklin There are those that would have it that opportunity cost is a concept so complex as to be impenetrable to anyone other than highly trained economists. Opportunity cost, the idea that making a choice precludes another option being chosen, is a threshold concept. [...]

Should students respond to feedback?

2015-11-30T12:46:27+00:00November 30th, 2015|assessment, leadership|

The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting. Fran Lebowitz One of the criticisms of my post about book monitoring is that I have omitted checks to see whether students have responded to feedback. This omission is entirely deliberate. Does this mean I don't care whether students respond to feedback? You might think this is a bit of a silly question - of course they should. After all, what's the point in giving feedback which will be ignored? Dylan Wiliam makes the following comment in my book: Sometimes the support we give to students may be emotional [...]

Could less marking mean more feedback?

2015-09-27T18:32:36+01:00September 27th, 2015|Featured|

Opportunity makes a thief. - Francis Bacon I wrote recently about the differences between marking and feedback. In brief, and contrary to popular wisdom, they are not the same thing; feedback is universally agreed to be a good bet in teachers' efforts to improve student outcomes whereas as marking appears to be almost entirely unsupported by evidence and neglected by researchers. Marking takes time Although there are some who dislike the use of the term opportunity cost being applied to education, there's no getting away from the fact that whilst we may be able to renew all sorts of resources, time is always finite. [...]

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 [...]

What should written feedback look like?

2015-05-10T14:30:56+01:00May 4th, 2015|Featured|

To free a person from error is to give, and not to take away. Arthur Schopenhauer In response to my last post, Cristina Milos pointed out that I use the term 'feedback' without providing any further clarification as to what I mean. She challenged me to explain exactly how I envisioned the feedback process taking place and to be clear about what, specifically, it ought to contain. Now of course feedback can take various different forms, but seeing as I've been exploring ways to reduce teachers' marking load, it's probably apposite to address what written feedback might look like. But, first some ground [...]

Two stars and a bloody wish!

2019-11-06T19:39:23+00:00May 3rd, 2015|leadership|

A heap of epithets is poor praise: the praise lies in the facts, and in the way of telling them. Jean de La Bruyère We are held hostage by our superstitious belief in the mystical power of marking to cure all educational ills. It won't. A teacher inscribing marks in students' exercise books is every bit as mundane as it sounds; in my 15 years in the classroom it rarely resulted in much. But that's not really why we mark. We mark because it's the right thing to do. Because not marking is worse than marking. This is the marking fetish. [...]

The fetish of marking

2015-05-10T14:49:34+01:00April 30th, 2015|assessment, myths|

Even the most valuable fetishes will turn into dusts and ashes! Mehmet Murat Ildan Fetishism hasn't always been about rubber and high heels. The word originates from the Portuguese feitico, meaning an object or charm of false power. When explorers first encountered native religions in West Africa, whatever talismans or totems the locals revered were dismissed as fetishes. A fetish has since come to mean an object or practice onto which power has been displaced from the original source. Marking seems a good example. At the most basic level, marking is a totemic symbol for the power of feedback. What we want is [...]

Why ‘triple marking’ is wrong (and not my fault)

2020-05-02T22:15:05+01:00November 29th, 2014|leadership|

You can't blame celebrity edubloggers for teachers' unreasonable workloads - Albert Einstein In his indefatigable efforts to get schools and teachers to recognise that much of what is done in the name of demonstrating progress for Ofsted's benefit is a pointless waste of time, apparently, Ofsted's National Director, Mike Cladingbowl has been blaming me for inventing 'triple marking'.[i] This is an accusation I refute. As I understand it, the phenomena of 'triple marking' of goes something like this: You mark students' work They act on your marking You mark students' work again. The logic is that in responding to students' responses to [...]

Are we fetishising marking?

2014-11-14T08:10:13+00:00November 14th, 2014|learning|

When you make something a fetish, ashes and dusts will laugh at you, because they know even the most valuable fetishes will turn into dusts and ashes! Mehmet Murat ildan Last night I innocently posted the following tweet:   This sparked something of a debate. A number of people got in touch to tell me this was 'bonkers' and a 'complete waste of money'. Other responses ranged from cautious interest to overwhelming support. But by far the biggest objection was the assertion that marking is an essential aspect of planning: if teachers don't know how pupils are performing then future teaching will [...]

Back to School Part 5: Marking

2014-08-25T17:23:42+01:00August 24th, 2014|assessment, Featured|

This series of #backtoschool blogs summarises much of my thinking as it’s developed over the past few years and is aimed at new or recently qualified teachers. Each area has been distilled to 5 ‘top tips’ which I hope prove useful to anyone embarking on a career in teaching. That said, I’ll be delighted if they serve as handy reminders for colleagues somewhat longer in the tooth. Marking is a chore. Whether or not it has a measurable impact of pupils' outcomes is arguable; that's not the reason we do it. The reason we spend so much time marking is a combination of we're [...]

Practical differentiation: high expectations and the art of making mistakes

2014-02-03T20:18:38+00:00February 1st, 2014|Featured, learning|

Differentiation? I hate the word as I hate Hell, all ludicrous bureaucracy, and thee! Er... Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Differentiation is one of the darkest arts in teaching. The generally accepted position is that differentiation is wholly good, and this is the cause of the wracking guilt felt by harrowed teachers: it may well be good, but it's bloody hard work. My bottom line is this: any policy predicated on the idea that teachers should work harder is doomed to failure. Thankfully, teaching's enforcement arm seem, at long last, to agree: "It is unrealistic ... for inspectors to necessarily expect that [...]

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