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Marking and feedback

From September 2019 all of our teaching staff have had one shared focus for their ongoing professional learning: Responsive Teaching. All of their training and development time is spent on how to integrate Responsive Teaching into all that they do.

We believe that Responsive Teaching will bring out the best teaching from our teachers and the best learning from our students.

What is Responsive Teaching?

Responsive Teaching can be summarised as: Check-Reflect-Respond

It is an approach whereby teachers check regularly on students’ understanding during and after the lessons; this also includes what they don’t understand. Teachers can then reflect and make adjustments to the pace, content and manner of learning to meet the needs of the students.

The importance of feedback

Feedback is one of the most important ways in which we learn. For Responsive Teaching to work effectively our teachers need to be giving students more regular and meaningful feedback.

What does this mean in lessons?

Responsive teachers use every opportunity in the lesson to evaluate students’ understanding. These can be both planned and spontaneous opportunities. There are a number of methods they can use, which include, for example:

  • Asking students questions.
  • Talking with students, e.g. ‘I like the way you’ve…’
  • Live marking, i.e. marking with you in the lesson.
  • Dot marking, i.e. colour-coded dots.
  • Mid-lesson checks (using colour cards, whiteboards).
  • Using a visualiser or scanned work to share ideas.
  • Peer assessment.
  • Mini quizzes.

What does this mean inbetween lessons?

Teachers use the time between lessons to assess a student’s understanding of what was taught in their lesson. In the past this would usually be a piece of homework which the student completed and then submitted; the homework was then marked in detail by the teacher and, because of the time this took, returned to the student several weeks later.

The time this took for every class to receive such detailed, lengthy marking meant that the students didn’t receive feedback until some time after the learning took place. It also meant that teachers could not then adjust their next lesson based on this feedback. It was disjointed and didn’t have enough impact.

Instead, we want our students to receive regular, targeted feedback. And we want our teachers to be able to adjust and plan their next lesson based on this feedback.

This means teachers have to use other methods to assess students’ understanding from one lesson to the next. These could include, for example:

  • A ’10-minute triage’ starter: at the start of the lesson there is a mini quiz on what they learnt previously, to assess where the students are and then adapt the lesson to respond to this.
  • On-line learning: e.g. Educake, Mathswatch.
  • Dot marking: the teacher identifies the most common mistakes and highlights them using coloured dots, which are then explained in a key. This is usually around four times quicker than deep marking and provides students with the opportunity to ask the teacher questions and investigate further. They can then use this feedback to set their target for their next piece of work.
  • Exit tickets/post-it plenaries: at the end of the lesson students write down their understanding of the concept taught. The teacher assesses how many of them understood it and uses that to plan the next lesson.
  • 1 paragraph marking: the teacher marks one paragraph in-depth, which the students then use to write their next paragraphs.

Staff in each department have agreed the feedback methods that they will use for their particular subject, drawing on their own professional expertise and the best shared practice available.

What does this mean for students?

By using more regular and different forms of assessing students’ understanding, students will get:

  • Feedback on their work more quickly.
  • More face to face feedback, so that students can then ask their teacher questions.
  • Different types of feedback about their work.

Seeing less written marking does not mean that teachers care less about students and their work!

What is DIRT time?

DIRT stands for ‘Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time’. This is the time that teachers give to pupils in lessons for the pupils to act on the feedback they have been given. This could involve correcting errors, developing explanations, answering additional questions that the teacher has set.

How can parents and carers support students with these changes?

  • Check that your child is completing any homework set and talk to them about how they think they are getting on in each subject.
  • Reassure your child that less written marking on their work does not mean that their teacher cares any less.

Background information about these changes

Some of these changes are drawn from guidance from the Department for Education which looked at ways we can reduce our reliance on written feedback where other methods may be more useful to students.

If you want to find out more about this, these links may be useful: