In 2016, a Department for Education (DfE) working group found that the obsessive nature, depth and frequency of marking was having a negative effect on teachers’ wellbeing and their ability to plan, prepare and deliver outstanding lessons. Marking was monopolising our working hours outside of the classroom to the detriment of our health and, ironically, our pupils’ progress.
The working group’s report, Eliminating Unnecessary Workload Around Marking, concluded that our profession needs to reconsider our approaches to marking and feedback. It said:
‘Marking has evolved into an unhelpful burden for teachers, when the time it takes is not repaid in positive impact on pupils’ progress… Too often, it is the marking itself which is being monitored and commented on by leaders rather than pupil outcomes and progress as a result of quality feedback.’ (p. 6)
Although this rang true at the time, we felt that at our school (Cedars Academy) we were caught in the trap of having to over-prove our impact, having to work hard to get our outcomes close to national and having never been ‘Good’. This was particularly the case with writing feedback and marking. Now the school is in a very different place and we have a strong teaching profile, it is time for us to act on the working group’s findings and focus our first round of TLCs this year on streamlining teacher feedback and developing a new Feedback Policy.
Our TLCs (Teacher Learning Communities) meet every 4 weeks to discuss research relevant to our context and changes they are attempting to make in their practice. The key driver behind the TLCs is to use Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction as a guide to professional learning and Hendrick & Macpherson’s, ‘The streamlined classroom: 6 elements of effective classroom teaching’ from their book ‘What Does This Look Like in the Classroom?‘ to guide our expectations of effective classroom practice.