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Bedminster Down tackles excessive marking to reduce workload

Teachers at Bedminster Down School are now evaluating work by using three different ways of marking

Posted by Lucinda Reid | November 21, 2017 | Teaching

Students and teachers at a Bristol school are benefiting from a new way of giving feedback.

No longer marking hundreds of books each week, the teachers at Bedminster Down School are giving students more meaningful, motivational and constructive comments on their work, so they can focus more on planning lessons.

In response to the government’s workload review which found that 53 per cent of marking was unnecessary and excessive, teachers are now evaluating work and supporting progress in three ways – live marking, impact marking and summative assessments.

Live marking is simply sitting with a student and talking through a piece of work; what has gone well and identifying areas for improvement.  Impact marking involves the quick identification of gaps in understanding so the next lesson is planned to close any gaps and provide stretch and challenge. Summative assessments are used to provide additional benchmarks for progress.

Headteacher Gary Schlick said, “'Recent research has shown that much of the marking that teachers do is unnecessary, burdensome and does not help students progress.  Our new system is redirecting the energy that went into routine marking to giving a more personal approach that helps us know more about any gaps in knowledge. As well as being able to give students more meaningful feedback we've removed one of the barriers to helping teachers achieve a better work-life balance.'

The new policy is based on the Assess – Plan – Teach model that was trialed at Bedminster Down School in a few classes last year and has been operating across the whole school since September. The move to make assessments quicker and more informative has been welcomed by both students and teachers.

Megan Arnold, Maths Teacher and Assistant Headteacher, added, “I’ve seen impact marking really enhance my pupil’s progress and motivation.  As a teacher, I’m also more motivated as the time I would have spent marking books is now used for planning exciting maths problems for the next lesson.”

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