Many schools are looking to refresh their marking and feedback policy as a key element of renewing their approach to assessment in a world without levels. How often children’s books are marked, the nature of the feedback provided and the response of the learner to the feedback are all coming under investigation. OFSTED’s increased use of work scrutiny to inform judgements around pupil progress and achievement has added significant pressure on school leaders to get the policy and practice right. This has sometimes resulted in increased workload, disgruntled teachers and lengthy scripts of double-act dialogue appearing in children’s books! It has led to OFSTED publishing the paper ‘Clarification for Schools’ in October 2014 to “dispel myths” about expectations an inspection team might have, such as:
“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.”
I’ve been working with a number of schools this year on updating their approach to marking and feedback and without doubt the most successful strategy has been to engage all stakeholders in the dialogue; to work with teachers, children and parents to design a bespoke policy that reflects the community’s key beliefs and principles in relation to effective learning. We have a range of evidence that highlights how important high-quality feedback is on improving progress and standards, so sharing findings from the likes of the Sutton Trust, John Hattie, Dylan Wiliam etc. and talking about how this applies to your school and your context paves the way for a research-informed methodology. In his recent blog, Power From the Floor, Teacher Toolkit outlined the rationale behind his planning for a professional learning session, which focused on capturing the collective energy and expertise of all the staff at his school. It’s a good read and includes Ross’ presentation from the session he led with his staff.
I’ve supported a local school in collaboratively developing a marking and feedback policy which they are happy for me to share (interestingly acknowledged by the visiting HMI as an “exemplar”). Thanks to the staff at Datchet St Mary’s.
The follow-up blog from Teacher Toolkit, Taking a Look at Books, explores the ways that the Senior Leadership Team at Quintin Kynaeston are developing their approach to work scrutiny. This is set in the context of seeking evidence of “progress over time” in an environment where Ofsted gradings of teacher performance have been removed. Again, it’s a good read and demonstrates the desire to create a system of quality assurance that is fair and robust. The template the school has designed to record the outcomes from work scrutiny is also available to download from the blog-post and might prove a useful stimulus for discussion in your own school.