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Marking Like No-One Is Watching

15 November 2017

Marking classroom exercise books is a huge workload. But is it all necessary? And, if it’s not, whose fault is all those wasted hours?

How often do teachers hand marking data to leaders?

A Teacher Tapp panellist asked us how often schools collect pupil attainment data from teachers, so we asked and found:

More than half of schools are collecting pupil attainment data every half-term. Yup, every six weeks.

The workload implication is enormous. The effectiveness is debatable – with points on either side. What’s certain, however, is that where schools do not have easy systems for the collation and analysis of this data, a lot of resource is going to waste.

We also asked how many hours panellists spent marking pupil work outside of classroom hours each week:

18% of teachers said they spent seven or more hours EACH WEEK marking books — that’s the equivalent of a whole extra work day per week.

But then we got to thinking.

A London teacher asked us: Would teachers continue marking at the same rate if there were no Ofsteds, no internal data collections, no negative consequences at all?

We weren’t sure. So we asked.

And found that around half of teachers would either continue with all or most of their current marking even if there were no negative consequences from external sources (such as the head, or Ofsted).

But, we wondered, are the people who spend the longest on marking books also the ones who would limit themselves if there were no consequences?

So we looked!

First up: around half of teachers in all categories said they would do half their current marking load or less. 

BUT, here’s the weird thing:

How long you spend on marking each week doesn’t relate to how easily you would stop. Around half of people would carry on!

Or, to put it another way, even if Ofsted called off the dogs, and senior managers told teachers they could do what they wanted, some teachers would still choose to mark for substantial numbers of hours.

Why? Do they believe marking is effective? Is it because it exam related? We need to find out but it’s a first step in showing that workload is not all about the external negative consequences.


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