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How much marking is everyone doing?

(34 Posts)
Ridingthestorm Sun 30-Nov-14 11:23:10

Just that really! OFSTED sent out their 'dispelling the myths' document which said they do not expect i depth dialogue between teacher and student on every piece of work but does not clarify what is considered 'in depth' and gives no guidelines or insight into how much correcting, mistake-highlighting and extension task we should be giving.

Particularly interested to hear about experiences in primary school from Y1 up to Y6 and those who have recently been inspected and given feedback on marking.

In our school, we make a 'star' comment and a 'wish' comment. All spelling and grammar mistakes are corrected, age related of course, or highlighted for children to change. The wish comment is usually an extension or challenge activity that children, even at Y1 are expected to respond to. But though we are told not every piece of work needs this in depth marking, our book analysis always comes back as 'not enough' and 'chances missed'.

We find this very subjective and all depends on who is doing the book analysis. It can be enough for one member of SLT but not an other. Consequently, everyone is now doing it on all pieces of work, which makes the workload immense. The SLT team don't ever tell us we are doing too much!!!!

We also find that because ALL children are then expected to respond, it can become incredibly time consuming, especially with little ones, and I have found at key stage one, that children are still not finished responding after fifteen minutes, which eats into the next lesson, and this is them only correcting spelling and grammar mistakes! I would also like to add, that we are expected to mark their corrections and extension/challenge activity on top of the next work to be marked.

So, what is everyone else doing? My friend is a secondary head teacher and though their policy states not every work needs marking, she is STILL pulled up on book analysis that she hasn't marked work!!

DontGotoRoehampton Sun 30-Nov-14 14:07:55

I am a supply teacher and often get asked to primaries as there is a massive shortage of primary teachers. The shortage does not surprise me. Where I have been (outstanding schools) the expectation is that every piece of written work js to be deep-marked www/ebi, colour coding highlighters etc and detailed menu of correction types. A few weeks ago I was in school, and the class teacher anxiously reminded me, several times before she left, that every piece of my marking should also have my initials and 'supply' just so she didn't get blamed if my marking was crap grin. She also how me how lucky I was as there was PE that day which reduced the marking load... There were four pieces per child to be marked in this way - 28x4=112 pieces, and so I also had to write my initials 112 times, and the word 'supply' 112 times - the latter --waste of my time--annotations are in no way required to help the child progress.
The school gave me fantastic feedback and asked the agency for me to go back long-term - ha - no way! Have told agency I won't go back, shame because the kids are really lovely, so is the school and the staff, but the insane marking policy is unacceptable.

rollonthesummer Sun 30-Nov-14 14:16:14

Yep-we have to mark in depth but nobody ever tells you how much work has to be done like this. They will always imply you haven't done enough though. Ofsted are not helping with such wooly and crap guidelines-it has to be specific or you open yourself up to 'not having done enough' criticism.

We do-highlighting in pink for good, green for bad. Three stars and a wish and then highlight the learning if achieved. Takes hours, children never look at it. Most of my children can't even read the crap I have to write, let alone respond it it!

rollonthesummer Sun 30-Nov-14 14:16:38

Learning objective, that should say,

Ridingthestorm Sun 30-Nov-14 15:48:30

I find that even Y2 children do not fully understand or even care much about the marking. It has very little meaning or purpose to them. Too many codes and colour highlighting and then they have to have the reading and comprehension ability to read the comments. I always find that when you ask them to do something, they do not understand what you have written or they do but have little independent skills to read, understand and do as they have been asked.
I am shocked at how much time is spent marking. I can spend up to four hours after school marking and still I am not finished. The marking expectations that SLT are expecting, because as said above OFSTED's expectations are wooly and vague, are eating too much into our time after school.
I have found it hugely demoralising when I receive feedback because they will find all sorts of 'errors'. A friend got an RI because her handwriting was not in the script of the school, challenges were written not typed (at Y6 - so the teacher had to type everyone's challenges onto a computer, print them out, cut them up and stick them in their books) and another didn't have a typed name label on the front!?!?!
SLT and OFSTED are both to blame for all of this. Despite the release of the OFSTED document, SLT have done very little (in fact nothing) to reduce workload caused by unnecessary marking.

rollonthesummer Sun 30-Nov-14 16:16:27

Ofsted need to redo their marking/workload guidelines in a crystal clear way so there is no ambiguity. I don't think they will do this though, as it's too hard!

I also resent being told exactly how to teach and mark by Ofsted rather than by any sort of independent research into how children learn!

SylviaPouncer Mon 01-Dec-14 20:12:47

Shit-loads. No point, kids don't care. A tick and a v. good/poor - see me would do just as good a job as all the target setting nonsense.
I think pupils respond better to oral feedback about how to improve.

rollonthesummer Mon 01-Dec-14 21:41:42

Now they've introduced this totally bollocks in-depth system of marking, I can't see that it can be backtracked on. I just can't see it ever happening that someone will say 'just tick things from now on'.

It's such a pointless pointless waste of time.

When I was at school, the marking policy was


How simple things were!

PurpleAlert Tue 02-Dec-14 19:56:02

Oh we have been told that now we have to not only let the children respond the marking (for every single piece of work) but that we also have to respond to their response to the marking. confused

We recently had a book scrutiny staff meeting where we all looked at each others marking in order to name and shame those teachers who were not doing it properly I had a look in one of the reception children's writing books. The child was 4 and was obviously in the early stages of emergent writing- a few recognisable letters and the odd word. One and a half lines at most.

The teacher had responded with two long paragraphs in different colours
( think they call it perfect pink and growing green or some such). I then asked the teacher in question if this particular pupil was actually able to read her comments in order to respond to them- she told me no and that she had read it to him... SO she spends 5 minutes writing all the comments then another 5 explaining it? To all 30 children in the class????

Is this really what OFSTED want to see? The world has gone mad!

Is there actually any real evidence that this improves children's learning? Surely actually getting on with the next bit of learning is more likely to move them on!!!!

Ofsted have been v clear that they have no specific expectations in terms of children responding to marking / dialogue between teacher and child etc. This is knee-jerk response by schools/departments to what they THINK Ofsted want to see. Ofsted want to see that marking informs progress - that's pretty much it.

Ridingthestorm Tue 02-Dec-14 20:38:44

Absolutely Remus.
Just to get Y2 to correct their spelling and grammar mistakes can take them ten minutes and even still, a lot of good readers need it explaining. The thought of looking at a piece of work with green scrawl and paragraphs of comments must be overwhelming.
But yes, OFSTED have made it clear they do not expect lots of dialogue between pupil and teacher in their books but their explanation is very wooly and vague and does not explain what is expected.
Since all this began in my school in September (due OFSTED but head denies that her reasons for workload, overload is ecause of them), I have realised that actually SLT have gone mad, scared, anxious, nervous, pissing themselves silly because OFSTED will not be clear about what they expect to see.

rollonthesummer Tue 02-Dec-14 20:41:10

Is there actually any real evidence that this improves children's learning?

Exactly! I don't think that there is any evidence to suggest that any of the bollocks stuff we now have to do improves children's learning.

SMT just want to see you doing it and if you don't, they can use it as a stick to beat you with: 'oh dear, you haven't followed the stupid f*ckwit marking policy properly, so you can't be outstanding, so you can't have your pay rise!

SMT's interpretation of Ofsted's requirements are horrendous and are actually damaging our children's education. These time consuming and frankly ludicrous practices need to be stamped out.

To be fair to Ofsted though, they really can't win. If they said that they expected to see v particular marking skills, teachers would complain that they were being dictated to. I for one would certainly not want them to go down that route, as if there is only one 'right' (or currently desired) way.

rollonthesummer Tue 02-Dec-14 20:51:26

actually SLT have gone mad, scared, anxious, nervous, pissing themselves silly because OFSTED will not be clear about what they expect to see.

Yes, this is it. Ofsted actually have to spell out with examples what they do/do not expect to see, otherwise heads will ask us to do it anyway. I get the feeling they are being deliberately ambiguous...

This is ridiculous anyway as why are we basing our education system on what the head of Ofsted decides he likes this week, rather than on some sound educational 'tried and tested' theory. I found an old lesson plan recently for a lesson I was observed teaching over ten years ago. Learning objectives were not mentioned, nor were mini plenaries, talk partners, lolly sticks, WALTs/WILFS, success criteria etc etc because they didn't exist.

My lesson was graded outstanding and the HT commented on the evaluation that 'everyone was on task and all children I spoke to could tell me what they were learning'. I still see lots of those children (through younger siblings/proximity) and many are at university, doing really well) so surely I was doing something right? However, that lesson would have failed dismally under today's criteria.

It's insane. Was I a bad teacher then?

DontGotoRoehampton Tue 02-Dec-14 20:56:03

actually SLT have gone mad, scared, anxious, nervous, pissing themselves silly


threepiecesuite Tue 02-Dec-14 22:06:33

Secondary here. Probably 2-3 hours marking per night. What Went Well and Even Better If, then child's response (in purple pen of progress) then our response to their response.
All spellings, grammar, punctuation corrected.

While I'm doing this massive waste of time every evening, I could be planning engaging and finely differentiated lessons and making new and exciting resources. But instead I'm pissing about with different coloured pens, and no child is actually interested in reading anything I've written. They just want to know if their work is right or wrong.

I'm a parent too, with a child in Reception. DD's workbooks are full of coded comments with highlighted areas. She cannot read any of it. I hate to think of her teacher being as burnt out as I am.
It's all a load of bollocks.

rollonthesummer Tue 02-Dec-14 22:45:14

The purple pen of progress? Please tell me those are your words, said in jest and that no member of SMT has said them in a staff meeting with a serious face?

Snargaluff Tue 02-Dec-14 22:51:55

We have the purple pen of progress too.
Yy to not having time to plan great lessons because all I do is mess about with coloured pens.

And buying more black pens because all their work has to be done in black.

threepiecesuite Tue 02-Dec-14 23:22:48

No, depressingly, purple pen of progress is a thing now.

guggenheim Wed 03-Dec-14 11:18:43

Wait,don't forget the pink pen of erm...progress too. And do NOT confuse the two,what would happen the the sats levels if a purple pen was used when only a pink one will do?

fuck all,obviously

Ridingthestorm Wed 03-Dec-14 13:28:14

We mark in green and children respond in purple too. Even at the age of five in Y1.
This is the biggest factor in workload at my school; up to ninety books to mark a night. We aren't supposed to do WWW and EBI on every piece of work, but that depends on who on SLT are scutinising your books. Nevertheless, when work doesn't have a WWW or EBI comment written at the bottom of the work, God forbid, you are in trouble for 'not marking work and missing opportunities to engage the child into 'up levelling''. I asked a colleague what was expected and he confirmed the same as me; not needed on every piece of work but does it anyways because he would be graded RI.

On another matter, our books are scrutinsed twice a week and we are given an OFSTED criteria grade in six different areas as well as an overall grade. Only one set of books are graded, the other set are, apparently, given back to children and feedback given to them.

rollonthesummer Wed 03-Dec-14 13:40:32

How about this as a solution.

Marking now only has to be for the benefit of the children-I reckon we should try a new scheme of ticks if it's correct and crosses if it's wrong, with gold stars if it's fab. That'll cut down on hours and hours each week. Observations should be once a year-I don't think they are useful in the slightest actually, but let's say one.

SMT will not need to spend all their time doing book scrutinies or observations, so we can get rid of 50% of them and hire more teachers with the money so we can have smaller class sizes. Let's buy some new text books if there's any left over cash.

Sorted. What do you reckon?

Ridingthestorm Wed 03-Dec-14 14:19:14

Perfect. I know key stage one children who would feel more empowered and motivated to achieve better to see gold stars and ticks on their work. Too much scrawl leaves them confused and not knowing where to look first!

rollonthesummer Wed 03-Dec-14 14:35:43

I think any teacher ever in the history of time would make a better education secretary that any MP we're likely to get!

Why can't things just be simple??

guggenheim Thu 04-Dec-14 10:03:21

agreed rollonthesummer. Although I would also care to point out that my elderly pet cat would make a better minister for ed than any of the twerps we've had so far.

I can remember when observations actually meant something valuable,--old gimmer--. I can remember my HT at my first school using obs. to give me actual advice on teaching. It was very useful and I actually benefitted from his experience.

Once a year is plenty. A supportive team woking together comprising of teachers with a range of teaching experience,lead by a head who has actually taught in the past five years would be a vast improvement on the obs/learning walks/book scrutiny/I dunno what twaddle next nonsense.

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