Teaching Ideas To Bin: Marking By Frequency And Colour


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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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Do you mark by frequency and colour?

Marking by frequency and colour is an idea I would like to see banished forever in schools and colleges across the U.K. You will most likely disagree with some of my comments and they will not be a solution for everyone. If you disagree, what would appear in your bin?

I would like to see every school move away from a marking policy to a feedback policy.

Better still, don’t have a policy – just share expectations.

More importantly, we need to remove a particular frequency of marking and in its place, promote marking that is proportionate to curriculum time. We need marking episodes that are meaningful and motivational for the student and manageable for the teacher.

If marking fails to do those three things, then you are not marking for impact, you are simply marking for compliance.

Make Your Mark

Marking by frequency and colour is contentious.

I understand the need to use various coloured pens to make marking and feedback more accessible between teacher and student, particular for students with learning needs but I suspect this is not often the driving purpose.

As soon as this ‘coloured notion’ is applied for evidencing and observational purposes, again, schools have lost the purpose of marking.

Forget the purple pen of progress, forget the Yellow Box, just mark with meaning and use whatever colour you like, as long as it adds value to the student, leaves them with more work to do than you.

Jury: If your school marks like this, it’s not a school I’d like to teach in.

Read the rest of the Teaching Ideas that TT thinks we should Bin in 2018!


2 thoughts on “Teaching Ideas To Bin: Marking By Frequency And Colour

  1. returning from maternity to a school that has changed Ofsted judgement has increased the workload and observation pressure, what is manageable? Working through the night to meet the demands of a toddler and school SLT, 6 weeks in I’m drowning, not sure how long I’ll remain in teaching – this certainly isn’t manageable.

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