I’m fortunate to work in a school where there is no centralised marking policy. Departments have been given the freedom to determine what feedback and assessment will look like and there is a clear understanding that this could look very different in different subject areas.
Feedback should be high impact for students and low impact for teachers. I don’t want my team spending excessive amounts of time writing comments in books. So, we just don’t do it. We do check books for presentation and to ensure the standard of work is as it should be. We use red, amber and green stickers to indicate the quality of work up to that point and it is the student’s responsibility to improve their work going forward. There is no set number of times that books need to be checked.
In terms of moving students forward in their learning, we use a system of feedback codes. The idea behind feedback codes is to generate a list of comments that apply to the piece of work completed by the class. Each comment is given a code/number and two or three of these codes are then applied to each piece of work. Ideally, these comments are in the form of a question or task that the student must complete. It is the student’s responsibility to record the feedback and complete the task during a dedicated portion of lesson time. Day to day, the team decides when it is appropriate to give feedback on a piece of work.
Another strand of our feedback and assessment strategy is in how we approach exam marking. First and foremost, no grades are given on any exams. Generating grades is a complex process that takes exam boards many weeks to accomplish. There is no way that we could accurately mirror this and therefore any grades given to students could be misleading. We also do not provide percentages (although many students could work this out for themselves, we do not encourage it). The focus of our exam marking is on what students know and what they do not know. From there we can provide whole class feedback about strengths and areas for improvement. We can use our visualisers/cameras to show excellent answers and model approaches to specific types of questions. This applies to all year groups. I am aware that some schools expect GCSE grades to be applied to Year 7 work etc. We do not do this.
As Subject Leader, it is my role to ensure that feedback and assessment is happening in the way we have agreed. One of the best ways I have found to check this is to ask the team to bring a selection of their choosing and lay it out in one classroom for everyone to look at. Some of our most fruitful conversations have come from this collaborative approach. It’s supportive, everyone gets to see examples of feedback in practice and to see slightly different interpretations of the “policy” (I don’t really like that word!).
It has taken time to embed this way of working and students do find it odd when they are not given grades but this is a change for the better, with the focus being on the students and their improvement.