Marking FAQ

Feedback on performance and advice on how to improve is key to progress.  There are lots of different ways that students get this feedback.  This will include discussions with the teacher, peer coaching (feedback from other students) and other verbal interactions.  Marking is also a source of individual advice and feedback that targets an individual’s strengths and areas for development.

What does good feedback and marking look like?

Good feedback and marking will not look the same across subjects and key stages.  The most effective feedback is verbal feedback – and students receive this throughout lessons from their teacher instructing them how to improve.

We do have some core principles however that we think are important in marking student work:

  • Positive comments - strengths of the work (“Excellent use of…”)
  • Formative feedback - targets (“To improve your work you should…”)
  • Acknowledgement time - students acting on specific advice to improve their work, usually using their green pen to show how they have responded to the advice

Good feedback should be positive, specific and helpful.  It should enable the student to see strengths and areas of improvement in their work.

How often will my child’s work be marked?

This will vary depending on the year group and subject. The general guidelines are:

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 & 8):  One key assessment per topic (approximately every 6 lessons) at Key Stage 3 for 1 lesson per week subjects (e.g. Geography, History, RS, Art, Music, Drama, Technology, ICT).

Three key assessments are completed per half term in English.  In Maths, fact tests and numeracy tests are marked weekly and key assessments are completed half termly. 

Biology, Physics and Chemistry units are taught each term in Science with key assessments marked formatively in each topic.

Homework will also be set and monitored, with intermediate marking as needed. 

Key Stage 4:  Key Stage 4 marking varies between subject areas and depends on various factors, for example in many subjects extended writing pieces, coursework or controlled assessment tasks are completed over a half termly period.  There are mock and internal exams and summative assessments that are marked and some will also count towards GCSE grades e.g. coursework.  This means that students receive regular written feedback on work, whether shorter questions/pieces or longer coursework elements.

Key Stage 5:  Key Stage 5 students have 4-5 lessons a week and often 2 teachers per subject teaching different topics.  4-6 key assessments would normally be marked each half term with regular checking of student folders, coursework progress etc.

Vocational Qualifications:  These subjects have a range of ongoing coursework requirements.  Students’ work should show evidence of up to date marking against task criteria, with advice given as necessary. 

What are the benefits of my child marking his/her own or fellow students’ work?

Peer and self assessment is not about students marking their own or each other’s work so that the teacher doesn’t have to!  When students mark each other’s work and give targets to improve, it benefits both parties by:

  • making the student think about how a piece of work can be improved
  • receiving immediate feedback on their own work and being able to compare it to another student’s work 
  • applying examination marking criteria or the success criteria behind the work they are doing so they understand what is needed

Self and peer assessment really helps students understand and think about their work.

Why does my child need to revisit their marked work and improve it?

It is easy to get advice to improve and forget it, or never put it into action.  Asking students to redraft a paragraph, or answer additional questions to check/develop understanding means that they act on the advice straightaway. 

It enables the student to show themselves how work can be made better through immediate action and captures that progress in their books and folders (often in green pen).  These written dialogues between teachers and students support students’ progress.

Is my child’s work marked for literacy?

We have a school “marking for literacy” policy that is followed by all subjects who use extended writing – spelling, punctuation and grammar will be assessed especially on key assessments.  This doesn’t mean that every error will be picked up every time (there is only so much correction that is helpful to a student).  However, key foci will be marked and corrected.  Across the curriculum, students will get feedback on their common errors.

Is all student work marked?

No.  Students’ work is undertaken for a number of purposes.  The completion of written tasks, even where not marked, is a key learning activity, and early pieces are often drafts to practise skills, with a more formal check later on.

The time that any teacher can spend on marking written work is finite.  It is not possible for a teacher to mark every word written, or question answered, by every student they teach.  It is therefore important that marking and written feedback is targeted to be as helpful as possible to the student.   

How long do teachers spend on marking?

A long time!  For example, for a class of 30 students where it takes 5 mins to mark a book, this equates to 2 hours 30 minutes of marking for just one class.  In practice, most books or longer pieces of work will take more than 5 minutes to read through, consider and give good feedback/advice. 

There needs to be a balance between checking work, self assessment, peer assessment, verbal feedback and teacher marking to ensure that teachers have time to plan lessons as well as mark and carry out other duties such as writing reports, developing schemes of work for new courses, attending parents’ evenings and providing extracurricular study or activities.   

The average class teacher has 10 classes and teaches 22 lessons per week.  Marking every book each week for 5 minutes would need 25 hours.  This is on top of 22 hours of lessons, planning and preparation time which usually exceeds 11 hours.  Planning is key to student progress and teachers need time to plan excellent and engaging lessons with varied and interesting activities.  The total hours so far would work out at 58 hours even before the regular other commitments that average between 7 and 10 hours a week.

Can I see the feedback and marking?

The students have their books and folders with them and should be bringing them to and from school – some subjects however keep marked work in class.  Assessments that are part of GCSE coursework for example will remain with the teacher for safekeeping and many subjects also keep Key Assessment Tasks or tests in folders for future reference.

Queries about marking

If parents/carers have any queries about the marking of their child's work, then we recommend you contact the relevant subject teacher or Subject Leader. Please see the staff information page on the website for contact details.

Feedback on performance and advice on how to improve is key to progress.  There are lots of different ways that students get this feedback.  This will include discussions with the teacher, peer coaching (feedback from other students) and other verbal interactions.  Marking is also a source of individual advice and feedback that targets an individual’s strengths and areas for development.