Saturday, 22 June 2013

Marking & feedback - a journey over 18 months

February 2012 saw a internal school departmental review for the maths department. In that review the following observations were made:

  • Marking, though regular, too often failed to give constructive feedback identifying next steps to improve.
  • Use of formative and summative assessment to inform pupils of next steps for learning is inconsistent.
Evidence for these statements was drawn both from reviews of books, and also from pupil voice surveys, which were quite often negative towards maths.

A fairly poor situation really. I'd been HoD for 5 months at that point and had come to the same conclusion before the SLT review wrote these findings.

Time for a change
Since then, we've developed the standardised feedback and marking process I've already written about in this post. We have also developed and embedded the formative feedback from summative assessments discussed in this post. We've also done things like buy "Verbal Feedback" stamps to record when we've had a formative conversation with a student.

This wasn't plain sailing - in October 2012 a review of exercise books still showed massive variability in practice. However we've continued to push, developing the systems together and always looking for a better way to do it.

Departmental reviews through 2013 have shown a steady improvement in consistency.

The payoff
The school held a work scrutiny event 2 weeks ago where students from years 7, 8, 9 and 10 were selected to review their work with the SLT and a retired HMI acting as a consultant to the school.

In every year group maths came out as the most regularly, consistently and constructively marked. Pupil voice about the maths marking was unbelievably positive, there wasn't a single negative point directed towards maths.

Not showing off
I'm not looking to boast about this - this blog isn't about self promotion.

I'm quite simply over the moon that the hard work the department has put in to improving feedback and marking has had such a marked impact. It demonstrates that improvements may take some time to embed in a teaching environment, but by working out a system that helps everyone to be at least "good" it is possible to make a really marked improvement.

I want to say thank you to my department - they have come such a long way and put in loads of work to achieve this result. I also want to thank the students who have responded so positively.

For me this is the kind of thing that makes being a HoD so rewarding. I'd love to hear if you have had a similar journey...

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