top of page

A new school year, a new look at marking workloads

Welcome to new year of Teaching and Learning at Putney High School.

The focus of the school year is Science of Learning but amidst understanding how we learn and what we can do to facilitate that we must remember to consider our own well being. We looked a feedback in two of the sessions last year and considered the worth of “feedback” as well considering whether we should mark at all! But now we want to look at the crux of the conversation… the thing that takes the time… the marking itself!

I mentioned last year that if we all spend:

•5hrs per week marking, that,

•200hrs per year, which is

•20,000hrs based on a staff of 100

This is too much! No one denies that

So we wanted to tackle the question at the start of the year, to help people think about strategies before the marking starts pouring in but also to think forwards and to be at the forefront of ideas around marking.

Our Head of English Antony Barton ran through an intervention he conducted last term which explains how he marked his summer exams this year.

Having successfully trialed comment only marking for the majority of KS3 assessments, the department wondered how the students would respond if their end of year exams received a grade but all comments, positive and negative, were removed. In their place the students would receive a series of symbols indicating parts of their work which contained errors and similar shortcomings. Students has to identify the errors they had made - as indicated by the various symbols - and work out how to improve their work.

Symbol Examples:

Results/conclusions from the trial:

If you want to know more about this, a full article can be found on the TES Website:

Following Antony's presentation the group then discussed the following questions, in an attempt to broaden our thinking, share our ideas and generate some strategies that could be taken back to the classroom:

  • How can we make marking more productive for the students by applying a type of feedback that is less onerous for the teachers?

  • Beyond marking, is there a way, perhaps through our preparation, or in our feedback, where we can help students attain more, yet at the same time reduce the time teachers spend putting together resources?

Many of the ideas discussed are ideas that have been tried and tested before; indeed many of the ideas can be found on blogs and articles such as:

However the full list that we created includes:

As well as:

  • Pair up with an expert - Year 13s marking Year 12s work. This will act as a good revision for the Year 13 students as well

  • Set a homework where the girls swap their work (even better if swapped with another class of the same year group so that there is more anonymity)

  • Similar to the "focus" above - mark it by looking at the techniques being used rather than the content.

  • Stockpile past misconceptions so that a full list can be generated and you can either highlight the areas that student needs to work on, OR get the student to identify the misconception, based on your symbols, or the mark scheme.

Our staff are now going back to the classroom with ideas a plenty to help them trial ways to reduce marking in the year ahead, while ensuring the standard of marking doesn't negatively impact on the students.

For a fully bibliography of other thoughts on marking, please see below:

bottom of page