The quandary of marking


Is it me or is marking all of a sudden become trendy?

It's all about purple pens, green pens, dialogue marking, peer assessment, self assessment, asking questions and don't forget lots of stickers too.

I'm sure like I'm not alone in the perpetual feeling of guilt I have around marking. It's always there, throughout your evenings, weekends and holidays.

But now, it's not just a tick, flick and comment. It's all about dialogue and progress.

I think there's a lot of merit in having conversations with students; forcing them to consider their own learning needs and making them to make active adjustments in their work. Drafting and redrafting is vital and necessary for students to develop and progress.

But as always with anything in regards to marking I worry.

I worry about workload and I worry getting it right. Right for students and teachers.

Then again going back to that ever growing marking pile, are we just asking teachers with full teaching timetables to be super teachers? Are we being realistic in terms of work/life balance? Or can marking be cleverly managed to limit the load? Or is this merely cutting corners? 

These are questions I still can't answer with confidence after a decade in the classroom. 

Fads come and go...but considering the quandary of marking. Are we being realistic? Or do our own unrealistic expectations just welcome burnout?

Marking is such a vital aspect what we do.....That's the quandary. 

Author Profile

Debbie  Ferrer

Debbie Ferrer

Associate Assistant Head & English SLE at a school in NW London (views my own).

2 stories


Sheree Reilly Sheree Reilly @sheree 2 years ago
I think that all the progress-centred marking is fantastic and a really great thing to be doing - in some respects, it helps lessons plan themselves.

The problem is, all English teachers teach too many classes to teach to continuously do this effectively.

Cut the amount of classes; get better quality marking as a result. The cut lessons wouldn't need to be for all teachers, just those with essay-based subjects.

I teach one class in each year group, when y11 leave each year, I all of a sudden find my marking load doable.
Debbie  Ferrer Debbie Ferrer @debsgf 2 years ago
I totally agree with you. I'm am English teacher too, and find marking a real challenge. I do think there needs to ne an honest and realistic discussion about marking. Dialogue and peer assessment is great, and can really benefit students. However, are classroom teachers opening themselves up to criticism because the expectation was too high to begin with? Can teachers simply keep up with it all?
Sarah Stephenson Sarah Stephenson @sarahstevo 2 years ago
Absolutely. I have moved to an independent school this year and, as an English teacher, find the reduction in marking load caused by small classes makes the whole thing valuable, meaningful and doable - marking is vitally important, but it's impossible to do properly with a full teaching commitment of large classes in an essay based subject. Something has to give.
Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 2 years ago
Another fellow English teacher here - I could not talk HT in to less contact time for Eng dept but I have made sets as small as possible to reduce marking.

I lead on T&L, CPD and marking. This year I built 'Marking Nights' into our directed time schedule of meetings/ training.

All teachers 2hrs each half-term. In hall, music & refreshments - creates a buzz and total focus. Noone can be distracted to complete other tasks. So popular we are moving to 2 every half-term next year!
Debbie  Ferrer Debbie Ferrer @debsgf 2 years ago
That's a lovely idea Hannah. Doesn't low for colleagues to mark and collaborate across departments? What a nice way to share ideas about marking.
Debbie  Ferrer Debbie Ferrer @debsgf 2 years ago
Ops..sorry typo ... Meant to say 'does it allow for colleagues to mark...' :)
Lucia Silva-Clark Lucia Silva-Clark @missclarkre 2 years ago
I am a RE teacher - tell me !:-/ I am always trying to develop strategies to cope with it but it is v. hard !
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