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How often are teachers required to mark work?

20 November 2017

We have been gradually learning a lot about marking in schools. For example, last week we found most teachers are spending at least 3 hours marking per week. Some mark up to 15 hours!

But Teacher Tappers rightly noted the amount of marking differs by subject or age range. But, does it?

We decided to get specific and asked primary school teachers about their English/literacy marking.

A sizeable 18% are expected to mark English work every single day, while 66% of primary teachers are expected to mark English work at least weekly.

But is the situation worse for teachers in primary exam year groups versus others?

Using information from others questions we checked and ….

There’s no obvious pattern overall, but look at that shift in year 2! 

Suddenly, when pupils hit the year where they will sit their first SATs, the expectation to mark daily, or in most lessons, leaps upwards.

If the government are looking for evidence that key stage 1 tests drive workload, this is a good start.

Oddly, we don’t see the same behaviour in year 6. In fact, year 6 teachers appear to have more autonomy to set their own marking policies than teachers of any other year group bar reception.

At secondary we decided to look at differences in subjects.

One of Teacher Tapps most vocal panellists – the rather brilliant Mark Enser – wrote a blog about the fact that 43% of secondary teachers said they were required to mark books at least fortnightly.

In Mark’s view, this shows “abysmal leadership” and his blog explains several reasons why. (It’s a good read!)

However, other Tappers rightly pointed out that some subjects see their children way more than others so maybe it was justified. Did marking vary by subject?

Um, not as much as you’d think! (or hope!)

We have to mop up lots of subjects into an ‘other’ box so the numbers don’t get ludicrously low. Once done, we found a remarkable number of people across all subjects are expected to mark at least fortnightly. The ‘other’ category was admittedly lower. But almost 40% of teachers were still expected to mark key stage 3 work fortnightly, even in subjects which children only have once or twice a week.

Even in languages and humanities – which tend to have fewer lessons than maths, English and science – around half of teachers were expected to mark fortnightly.

Also , who wants the workload of a maths teacher?

English teachers are commonly thought to spend the most time on marking. Probably because the work is more subjective and can take longer to do. (Although comparative judgement can help – go here to read more).  But maths teachers came out with the highest expectation for marking at least weekly (or fortnightly). Tick and flick may look quick: but it’s a time suck too.

In sum: a lot of people are expected to mark a lot!