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Nick Gibb, the UK schools minister, recently said that teachers spend too much time marking but that this has never been a requirement of OFSTED or the government. It has also been reported that marking is one of the main reasons for extreme workloads and a leading reason for teachers leaving the profession. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37705385

Well, it may not have been implicitly so, but the comment is disingenuous. OFSTED, in their quick-fire but high-stakes inspection of schools, require evidence of teacher actions.

Inspectors have fallen back on inspecting pupil books as the most easily available evidence. As a result, teachers spend a lot of time marking books! This does of course give some feedback to pupil and teachers, which we know is material in improving learning. However, this method results in pupils receiving feedback too late and it results in high teacher workloads, which reduces the quality of teaching.

I was in an excellent class a few weeks ago and the teacher said she took 96 books home to mark every night.

Learning by Questions (LbQ) is developing an alternative solution which provides pupils and teachers with real-time feedback: there is no need to take books home to mark.

In a recent government trial, one school did not mark books and instead just used the available electronic devices. The inspectors to their credit accepted this. As well they might have as the school, due to the use of real-time feedback – so says OFSTED – has moved from being one of the worst performing schools in the county to one of the best.

Just ask Learning by Questions (LbQ ) for the case study.

Tony Cann

Tony Cann

Tony Cann, CBE, DL, Hon. LLD. BCT has backed and financed the Institute for Effective Education at York University, is a major sponsor of Research Schools together with the Education Endowment Fund, and has supported the founding of a secondary academy, as well as many other education projects in the UK, USA, India and the Philippines.
Tony Cann

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