From Marking to Feedback

This term’s T&L development theme at Wellacre is Assessment, Marking and Feedback, and the key ‘deliverable’ will be a brand new whole-Academy feedback policy, ready for launch at Easter. So much has been written, blogged and tweeted on this theme recently (see the end of this post for some of our key inspiration) that it might have been easier just to go with something ‘off the peg’, but we’ve decided to take the slow road because we want to make sure that whatever we do is right for our students in our classes.

The story so far:

During the Autumn term we commissioned our first Learning Development Group to research and trial a number of different strategies / approaches to feedback in order to provide us with a starting point. Their findings were presented back to representatives from each faculty in December and – through the resulting discussion – narrowed down into the following statement:

 Using the idea of WWW and EBI to develop a more effective method of feedback through written, peer and verbal assessment methods, the project aims to:
  • Impact on pupils’ progress
  • Increase quantity and decrease quantity of marking
  • Make feedback more constructive and interactive

We began the spring term with a Focus Week looking specifically at day-to-day assessment, marking and feedback practice across all subjects. We deliberately position these Focus Weeks at the start of each term with a view to ‘finding the bright spots’ (see Chip and Dan Heath’s excellent book ‘Switch’ if you’re unfamiliar with the idea) which are then shared and grown across the Academy. Start with what we’re good at, in other words.

Simultaneously, a cross-faculty open work scrutiny looked at the impact of our current marking and feedback practice through the eyes of some of the students we need to close the biggest gaps with – Higher Attaining students and our Pupil Premium cohort.

Where we’re at:

The table below summarises the feedback that has now gone back to subject leaders:

Our current ‘best practice’ is where: Our practice will be even better when:
Students know their ‘working at’ levels/grades and their targets A common and consistent language is used across all subjects (including abbreviations)
There is specific literacy marking (in line with current policy) Time is built in to lessons to enable students to act on teacher feedback
Stickers / stamps / assessment checklists are well-used to save marking time Feedback results in an active response from students (in many subjects this will be a written response)
Students are aware of the next steps they need to take in a non-trivial way (i.e. “To improve I need to work harder” would be trivial) ‘Do Nows’ are closely linked to feedback (i.e. if the teacher has identified corrections, the Do Now is to correct them!)
Feedback is clearly linked to success criteria, particularly at KS4/KS5 Feedback leads to progress – e.g. the student’s next piece of work is better as a result.
ICT is used well to facilitate feedback (particularly Google Doc comments) Marking is selective, with a focus on quality rather than quantity.
Feedback encourages extension rather than reflection (e.g. writing an extra question for students to answer) Peer feedback is used just as effectively as teacher feedback.
Teachers go back and re-mark work that has been improved following feedback We have built an ethos of drafting and improvement: “If it’s not excellent, it’s not finished!”

What’s next:

The Learning Development Group meets again this Thursday, and with a wider group (with representation from each faculty) next Monday to discuss how the strategies that have been trialled so far can be embedded more widely. From there, each faculty is expected to develop an aspect of their practice in preparation for our next twilight INSET which will feature a marketplace of excellent feedback practice from all subject areas, to be incorporated into the new policy. The LDG plus any other interested colleagues will then finalise the principles of the new policy, ready for launch just before (and implementation just after) the Easter holiday. Watch this space!

Inspiration / Further reading:

I’ve read so many excellent articles on this subject in the last 12 months or so that I won’t possibly be able to remember them all here, but if you’re interested I strongly recommend you start with the following:

About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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3 Responses to From Marking to Feedback

  1. Pingback: If you only do one thing this month… | Making Our Best Better

  2. Pingback: October Bright Spots | Making Our Best Better

  3. Pingback: Marking: what’s important to us? | Making Our Best Better

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