This blog is about book monitoring across an entire school, lead by heads of faculty, designed to improve student progress and reduce workload.
My last blog was about Power from the Floor. A blog about staff development; marking and a common-sense approach to teacher-workload. In that read, you can find a CPD training resource ready-to-go for you and your own staff. Power from the Floor is all about teachers talking and having the opportunity to contribute from the floor on whole-school policy which impacts on their own practice in the classroom.
This blog is about monitoring the quality of marking across the school, keeping in mind a realistic approach to diagnostic feedback and marking. The focus for our monitoring is school-specific. It may not be useful or applicable for your own school context. You can find the resource at the foot of this blog.
Over the coming weeks, we are conducting our first monitoring book reviews in a landscape without lesson gradings. We haven’t quite yet, cracked the workload issue, but I previously explained that we are moving toward a common-sense approach to diagnostic marking and feedback across the school. I shared this startling image with my readers; especially pointing out the statistics to senior teachers, whose experiences of teaching in the classroom become an-ever-increasing memory.
We are soon to publish a document stating what teachers should not mark. This will be published to all students and parents and carers. I also shared this document (image below) with our staff as a starting point, suggesting what could be expected practice and what could not be expected practice with our marking. This is by no means gospel, or indeed a final publication. Teachers have been consulted and I already have over 10 drafted documents to modify before returning a proposal to middle leaders.
Like any publication, this guidance needs to be simple, without being debilitating or punitive.
Marking and feedback will vary in all subjects, key stages and in every classroom.
Getting It Right:
The primary aim of our book-look review is to gauge the landscape of ‘diagnostic marking across the school.’
I have published this draft key guidance:
- There are NO judgements/lesson grading.
- This is NOT an observation.
- Departments may wish to organise a share and compare book-look within teams and involve all staff in the process.
- This is NOT a ‘got-cha’ exercise.
- All book-looks are to be conducted by HoFs/HoDs with relevant SLT line manager for support and capacity where needed.
- Please direct your SLT where you need capacity; this may be when you are unavailable, or when you would like to conduct paired monitoring.
- Draft a simple schedule and communicate this with your department/SLT. What classes/books are scheduled/list of names.
- Book-looks do not need to happen when the lesson is taking place. Books can be reviewed outside lesson.
- The book sample should cover a range of key stage classes/year groups per teacher. E.g. one key stage 3 class / key stage 4 class per teacher.
- If a member of staff only teaches one key stage, you should consider reviewing different year groups/courses.
- Keep in mind yours and others workload.
- The process is to gather a picture, not to tooth-comb every book page in the department.
The following book-sampling document is based on whole-school approaches in other schools/roles. It has been modified significantly following on from the last time I discussed marking and book-look monitoring …
- #BookLooks and Mantras: The Ugly Truth by @TeacherToolkit
- Progress over time #POTteaching: by @TeacherToolkit
- The #UglyTruth revisited: Marking; monitoring and progress by @TeacherToolkit
- The Marking Frenzy by @TeacherToolkit
Before the book look:
- HoFs / SLT should briefly meet with the teacher to gather initial context; e.g. how best can this process improve your marking?
- The book-look monitoring should aim to provide; ‘what went well and areas for improvement.’
- All book-looks should schedule a planned feedback session for each classroom teacher; agree this in advance, with time to discuss feedback between 5-20 minutes.
- Prior to any book-look, the teacher’s progress-tracking sheets should be available to help pre-plan and identify students for scrutiny.
- Every student sample should include a high, middle and low attainer; stretch; SEN and pupil premium.
We have divided the template into two sections. Teachers should and Students should.
We have focused the monitoring template on diagnostic feedback using 7 questions.
- All books must be available.
- When looking in specific student books, this should never be an ad-hoc exercise of who is present in the room.
- If books are not available, say so on the document. Please revisit the class at the next available opportunity and locate the absent student’s book.
- Every student sample must include a range of student-profile: high, middle and low attainer; stretch; SEN and pupil premium.
- Do discuss the process with student / teacher. Refer to student prompts at all times.
After the book look:
- The book-look observation, should be viewed as a means for developing best practice. Feedback must happen; be meaningful and sophisticated.
- There is context behind every exercise book, student, group and teacher – make sure you know before providing feedback.
- Photocopy this sheet and return to the teacher after feedback.
- A copy should returned to heads of faculty and uploaded onto Blue Sky.
You can download the template; which also includes the guidance on the reverse. If you to download the document, all I ask in return, is that you click this link right here before clicking here to download the template.