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to think teachers should stop marking books?

(55 Posts)
Notsuretoday Sat 08-Nov-14 07:56:00

It is the single biggest waste of time and it would improve teachers' work-life balance no end.

In Germany where I am from books are not marked. Tests are marked, verbal feedback is given in lessons. Homework is discussed in lessons. It doesn't seem to mean that German pupils do less well...

Asleeponasunbeam Sat 08-Nov-14 07:56:57

Yes please!


Asleeponasunbeam Sat 08-Nov-14 07:58:22

But I mostly think children should stop writing in books too! Far too much emphasis is placed on product and sodding evidence, rather than the process of learning which can be done on a whiteboard, in the dust outside, wherever!

socially Sat 08-Nov-14 08:02:42

A tick and "good" is a waste of time, yes.

But properly marked and assessed work which the pupil has the opportunity to revisit and improve isn't a waste of time at all.

However it does take yonks

Asleeponasunbeam Sat 08-Nov-14 08:06:46

But could that time be better spent and the learner still be given opportunity to respond? I think so!

Notsuretoday Sat 08-Nov-14 08:07:26

Socially, I agree, but this could be done say once every half term. The expectation of two weekly book marking, or even daily in primary, is just madness.

claraschu Sat 08-Nov-14 08:08:09

Kids don't appreciate the comments, and I don't think they "revisit and improve" until they are older. They might go over things under duress, but not in a spirit of eager interest and openness to learning from their mistakes.

IKYTWTLYA Sat 08-Nov-14 08:10:14

When I am able to mark books properly it's totally worth it, but it's impossible to do this regularly enough for it to be worthwhile with current statutory minimum PPA time.

As has been said, books are just an evidence trail: evidence that teachers are teaching, that kids are 'learning' and that feedback is being given. We now even have "verbal feedback given" stamps where kids are expected to write the verbal feedback down as evidence that it's been given (and then acted upon).

No trust there. Kids are operating under the regime that if there's no evidence, it didn't happen. Because those slimey teachers can't be trusted to actually educate anyone.

I could happily do it all if I had double or triple the PPA time (which they do in some countries). I don't know if the answer is to stop doing it or not. I've been in the system too long. I'm institutionalised.

JustAShopGirl Sat 08-Nov-14 08:13:37

are you talking about all levels - infant , primary and secondary?

My DD has the most fantastic Physics teacher who goes out of his way to keep girls interested in physics. His marking and comments in their homework books is what has kept my DD interested in the world of science.

A good marker can encourage, inspire and give a child the wings they need to soar in a subject.

Asleeponasunbeam Sat 08-Nov-14 08:14:34

Infant and junior books in our school. Every child, every subject, every lesson.

Raininginnovember Sat 08-Nov-14 08:15:39

If marking work in books is a waste of time then doing the work in books is a waste of time.

How do you know:

the student understood
what they need to do to improve
what they can already do


It isn't just me who says so: feedback to the student is the singular most important thing in terms of them making progress.

odyssey2001 Sat 08-Nov-14 08:16:28

Kids can revisit and improve from Year 2 upwards and it is called marking for improvement. This is extremely valuable but very time consuming and should be done regularly but sparingly. Everything else should be marked against the success criteria (WILF at our school).

Notsuretoday Sat 08-Nov-14 08:24:55

Raining that can be done once a half term in assessed pieces of work.

How do you explain it that children in other countries manage to make progress even though their books aren't marked, just assessments which are done about six times a year in key subjects?

Raininginnovember Sat 08-Nov-14 08:31:26

To me, if the child has taken the trouble to do the work, I need to take the trouble to mark it.

I don't personally feel once a half term or six times a year is enough to get a real picture of where a child is at.

I couldn't possibly comment on other countries as I haven't lived abroad or experienced different education systems. I feel that currently for children in the UK system to never have a book marked would encourage a lack of work and therefore lack of progress.

AsBrightAsAJewel Sat 08-Nov-14 08:34:15

I heard this debate in the staffroom of another school this week. Who are we marking the books for? If the children have limited reading skills why are we expected to write lengthy comments on whether the work has achieved the lesson objectives and identifying next steps in learning? As it is not for the children is it for the SLT (and what does that really show them?), OFSTED should they visit (!) or the parents?

Our school has a policy that verbal feedback is appropriate across the school, marking alongside the child in lesson is fine if it doesn't take up too much actual teaching time, simple ticks or learning objective achieved stamps are fine for most work, leaving the depth marking for just certain tasks. Depth marking should be discussed with the child if they can't read it and a follow up task set. With older children written feedback is used and follow up time should be allowed - we are using DIRT (dedicated improvement and reflection time) from end of Y2 upwards, that leads on from depth marking.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 08-Nov-14 08:35:07

That was pretty much what I was taught during my teacher training odyssey. Then I came across a HT who insisted on depth marking every single piece of written work in every subject. Total waste of time and just led to less work in books to avoid marking it.

Tick at the bottom to acknowledge it and annotating/adjusting planning based on patterns you spot with individual verbal feedback as required and one piece depth marked every half term should be fine.

pudding25 Sat 08-Nov-14 08:38:56

Marking is effective if it is kept simple, is in child friendly language, has a sensible target and the child is given the opportunity to read the comments and act on them. However, it is bloody time consuming! Verbal feedback is also extremely important and just as, if not more, effective.

AsBrightAsAJewel Sat 08-Nov-14 08:41:48

"Ofsted does not expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue
between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders. Ofsted
recognises the importance of different forms of feedback and inspectors will
look at how these are used to promote learning." Quote from recent OFSTED document

LostTeacher Sat 08-Nov-14 09:42:07

Ofsted might say that but not the SMT at school.

I teach year one and give verbal feedback for each piece of work...

Then I go away and write my comment on the work (for the benefit of a book scrutiny, not the child's progress).

We are expected to do next step marking for every piece of work, even things like a maths worksheet that is filed in a folder and the child never sees again. It is silly.

I think it depends on the ages of the children too.

My DD y6 had some really thoughtful marking in her book but she then told me that this was all done retrospectively the week before parents evening and her books hadn't been marked in weeks.

That marking didn't benefit her because she wasn't getting the feedback in time for the next lesson (and I'm not blaming her teacher! Workload is huge, especially in Yr6, and I probably would have done the same thing to cover my own back ).

I think non-teaching (PPA) time needs to be increased. Even in the last 4 years, as I've got more experienced, it seems my workload is increasing year on year. We get 2 hours in the middle of the day for PPA. So have to be in class teaching and then leave for two hours, then come back in with no break to a class full of children waiting for their next lesson. It's hardly any time at all to prepare the next week and attempt to mark.

AsBrightAsAJewel Sat 08-Nov-14 09:51:35

sad LostTeacher - and people wonder why teachers are leaving the profession!
I'm fairly lucky in that respect as I'm at a school that takes a more balanced approach and when the policy was set up I was in a different role with more power to impact decision making to this end.
My heart goes out to teachers in schools with such burdens placed upon them. I think it comes down to SLT with limited understanding of the process or fear that they must be seen to doing what they perceive to be the right thing. Plus parental expectations that schools are worried about challenging and changing.
Have your SLT read this ?

SunshineAndShadows Sat 08-Nov-14 09:56:03

I was recently looking over my old primary school work from about 25 years ago. Only a couple of pieces were 'marked' so I'm assuming a got verbal feedback mostly. I remember our maths work and spelling tests were marked in lesson (we'd hand them in as soon as finished then get to choose a book to read quietly whilst the teacher marked them) But that was pretty much it. Definitely didn't do me any harm and I'm sure it was better for the teachers too!

Quangle Sat 08-Nov-14 10:01:33

I do expect that when my eight year old completes a complicated comprehension exercise that took her the best part of an hour to finish at home, it would come back properly marked. With more than just a tick. With a comment - an evaluation, how it can be improved. The TAs do the marking at our school and some of them do it properly - some with the bare minimum of effort.

Raininginnovember Sat 08-Nov-14 10:03:17

Why do the TAs do the marking?

spanieleyes Sat 08-Nov-14 10:10:11

The TAs generally mark the work of the group they are with as they know how much support they provided, which children needed group/individual support, who found it easy etc.

Anomaly Sat 08-Nov-14 10:11:22

My school are really pushing marking but they don't expect everything marked in the same way. We use self assessment, peer assessment, have some stamps that indicate verbal feedback has been given. The students love doing the stamps so I don't have to. We obviously do have to mark some work properly which takes time but is essential in my opinion for the students to make progress.

We've also bought software so students can do some simple online tests that mark themselves.

I hate marking but do think its important. I always consider how I will assess the student when planning lessons so I know I won't be overburdened with marking.

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