NGA has previously written about teachers’ workload and, following the reports of the review groups looking into the three key areas identified as being burdensome to teachers, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and University of Oxford (UoO) have reviewed the evidence on written marking by teachers.
The review looked at seven different aspects of current marking practices and their impact on staff time, effort and pupil progress. The review grouped its findings into seven areas: grading, corrections, thoroughness, pupil responses, creating a dialogue, targets, frequency and speed.
The review has identified significant gaps in the quality of existing evidence about the value of written marking. The EEF has called for research communities to join forces in order to investigate this further and has earmarked £2 million of funding for this. The review did identify some initial findings:
careless mistakes should be marked differently to errors resulting from misunderstanding
awarding grades for every piece of work may reduce the impact of marking, particularly if pupils become preoccupied with grades at the expense of a consideration of teachers’ formative comments
the use of targets to make marking as specific and actionable as possible is likely to increase pupil progress
pupils are unlikely to benefit from marking unless some time is set aside to enable pupils to consider and respond to marking
some forms of marking, including acknowledgement marking, are unlikely to enhance pupil progress
As a result EEF/UoO has coined the phrase “schools should mark less in terms of the number of pieces of work marked, but mark better.”
Such policies should be drawn up by school staff, but this review provides a useful basis for consideration when governing boards are reviewing their own school’s marking policies and the impact on pupil progress.