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Tips to Improve Paper Marking for UK Teachers

Marking school papers is a time-consuming process for UK Teachers.  Being able to manage and effectively execute paper marking is an important skill that UK teachers need to develop and evolve overtime.  No matter how large the task is, giving up is not an option. The quality and speed of marking is a representation of the Teachers ability and students will compare and judge teachers based on this.

We’ve compiled a guide to improve your marking and improve the effectiveness and efficiency:

  1. Don’t grade every piece of work: students focus disproportionately on the grade and are less likely to observe the formative advice. The research in this area is complex and you should conduct your own research, nevertheless teachers should know that answers that don’t make sense could be excluded from grading.
  2. Stop doing the tick and flick: A quick “well done” or “good effort” might feel like it’s not time-consuming, but multiplied over several sets of books this approach can really take a lot of time without necessarily making an impact. Provide one clear conclusion that is constructive for the students learning.
  3. Careless mistakes don’t need to be corrected: teachers should restrain themselves from correcting minor mistake made by a student, instead mark the error and leave the correction because there are always so many minor mistakes seen in student’s paper which correcting them will waste a lot of time. Rather come to class and correct them.
  4. Change the culture: the myth that claims that the more time you spend marking or doing your work in the staff room shows how good a teacher you are should be disregarded, leaving work for another day does not show that you are an ineffective teacher, so do what you can today and leave the rest for another.
  5. Realize that marking is not the be all and end all: the workload review group report states that it aims to “shrink the importance that marking has gained over other forms of feedback”  it went on to say: “If the hours spent do not have the commensurate impact on student progress, stop doing it”.
  6. Start marking and delivering results immediately the need arises, do not schedule them to a later time so that they don’t pile up when you do this, you will have a little relief and your students will feel valued knowing that you are interested in their work.
  7. Stop writing too much: Use stamp templates for instance “Now you need to” rewrite paragraph three. Instead of writing the entire sentence each time it occurs.
  8. Provide time for students to respond to targets. We create ‘airbricks’ in our schemes of work, where we re-teach skills based on our marking, then students re-draft their work and act on feedback.

As time goes on, it is better to replace traditional marking with more efficient and effective alternatives, such as verbal feedback, or group revision sessions. These points will help you make a revolutionary turn in your culture of marking and will make you stop being overwhelmed with the workload created by marking. One of the main challenges is the red pen accountability that is prevalent in schools these days, as a teacher, try and devise a means of feedback that works for you.

Comment below with your thoughts – what has work well, not so well.  Let’s build a community of sharing positive, constructive feedback – after all that is what makes you a great Teacher!

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