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Marking is broken- and how I think it can be fixed


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This blogpost is a summary of a workshop I gave at Plymouth University in May 2013 at the Teaching Final Conference. The images are slidegrabs from my deck, and I’ve summarised them below. I would also add that I am in no way an expert at all in marking, and wanted to demonstrate that even after a few years of teaching, you can still refine and improve yourself. Feel free to add any tips you have found for improving marking in the comments below.

I introduced myself and explained that marking was my second least-favourite thing to do as a teacher, after displays.

There are five key stakeholders when it comes to marking:

Parents – they LOVE marking – it shows their child has been taught and that the teacher has spent time working with them.

SLT – They also LOVE marking – in a time-poor environment, looking at marking is a quick snapshot system of identifying work output from staff and pupils.

Inspectors – They LOVE marking – making a value judgement once every three years is hard enough, and marking is some of thee only tangible evidence that there has been some teaching in the previous three years.

This leaves two stakeholders left:

Teachers – No teacher LOVES marking. When I asked the workshop attendees, none from the 90 who attended said that they liked marking. None – and this was at the start of their career!

Pupils – they don’t get the value of marking either. Very often they seek a reward, and rarely read the the comments.

This leaves us with a huge problem - the two most key stakeholders in marking – the producer (teacher) and consumer (pupil) – get the least from it. How could we change this?

The focus of attention for both parties needs to change – reverse if you like. For pupils, the top priority should be learning, then praise, then reward, in that order. I have changed my marking style to aim for this to happen as many times as possible.

For teachers, the emphasis also needs to reverse, so that planning comes first, then tracking and finally proof. The true mark of good marking is actually focussed planning.

The changed mindset needs to be ‘marking is planning’ – this statement came from David Didau (@LearningSpy) in a session I heard him speak at , and was my one strong takeaway from the workshop he gave.

In the old system, the routine appears to be PLAN > TEACH > MARK

However, in the new system, which is simply a change of mindset, the order is: MARK > PLAN > TEACH

This is not going to upset your SLT, will improve your teaching and planning (and marking of course). I have found this to be most effective if you do the marking AT THE SAME TIME as your planning, alongside each other.

Image credits for doc can be found at:

An explanation of the workshop can be found at:

I can be found at: @mrlockyer

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Marking is broken- and how I think it can be fixed

  1. 1. MarkingMarking(and how I think it can be fixed)(and how I think it can be fixed)Is brokenIs broken
  2. 2. Why is itWhy is itthat the twothat the twomost vital people inmost vital people inmarking get the leastmarking get the leastfrom it?from it?
  3. 3. brokenMarkingMarkingIsIslanning!Planning!
  4. 4. Old systemOld systemASSESSSoWPTMPTMPTM…A
  5. 5. brokenChangeChangeofofsystem!system!AdjustAdjustyouryourmindsetmindset
  7. 7. BarriersBarriers
  8. 8. What isWhat isthe bestthe bestset up?set up?This allThis alldepends ondepends onyour situation.your situation.
  9. 9. FastFastForces contactForces contactChildren love it!Children love it!Instant responseInstant responseRe-steers learningRe-steers learningOne-to-oneOne-to-one
  10. 10. Focussed marking means goodFocussed marking means goodplanning, leading to greatplanning, leading to greatteaching which createsteaching which createsoutrageous outcomesoutrageous outcomes- for all!- for all!
  11. 11. @mrlockyer@mrlockyerImage credits:Image credits: