Marking Is Broken!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

How can we tackle the marking burden for teachers?

On Friday, December 4th 2015, I delivered a keynote at the SSAT National Conference: Leading Learning.

Cut through the waffle, reduce workload

During my mainstage presentation at the SSAT National Conference 2015, I raced through one-hundred-and-fifty slides in just forty minutes. Throughout, I gave answers to the question ‘How would you reduce the burden of marking, planning and teaching for teachers?’

This week, the SSAT are sharing five short films taken from my presentation. They are:

  • What is a good teacher?
  • Do we really need lesson plans?
  • Marking is broken
  • How we cut out the marking frenzy
  • Flying Start.


Click to play


So, our approach to marking across the country is broken – not just in my school – but I think it is nationally. I’ve blogged about this before (The Marking Frenzy). Until policy changes where teachers have less than 90% of their timetable in a classroom, so they get more time to mark and plan, nothing will change. Any suggestions to the contrary, such as from the government, is just more waffle.

To put it into perspective, there are five key stakeholders with marking:

  • parents
  • senior leadership team
  • inspectors
  • teachers
  • the child.

Parents love marking. Senior leadership team members love marking, and school inspectors love it even more! Teachers generally hate marking because they don’t the time or resources to do it properly. And the child is in the middle, not really knowing what’s going on – without feedback, they don’t know how to improve.

‘Marking is broken’ came out online through blogs by David Didau and Stephen Lockyer – plan, teach, mark was the original model. We’ve all been to university, trained to be a teacher, go through these laborious lesson plans … we’re told we have to plan to the lesson, stick to the plan. Then we teach it, and mark our books afterwards.

But, by flipping the model, you can totally change your approach marking, lesson planning and teaching: what we need to do is, mark to inform our planning, and then plan to allow us to be able to teach. Read Mark-Plan-Teach.


So, how do we fix the curse of marking? Well, the Answer is Simple.

shutterstock_121403794 Broken pencil pencil on white background, close-up

Image: Shutterstock


You can read my full blogpost here, Cutting Through The Waffle and download my full presentation here. Before you do, please click a tweet of thanks.

Cutting Through The Waffle SSAT Conference Workload


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In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

One thought on “Marking Is Broken!

  • 17th May 2016 at 5:20 am

    Thanks teacher


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