New term resolutions: how to minimise marking and reclaim your weekend

There probably isn’t a teacher across the UK who hasn’t had their weekends blighted by a spate of marking. Every Friday teachers leave schools in droves armed with a pile of books that require their attention in order to provide effective feedback to pupils in the classroom the following week.

Marking is a time-intensive process, and it needs to be done properly. With administrative tasks in the classroom creeping up, it’s no wonder many teachers reserve their weekends for marking work. There are, however some surprisingly simple ways to minimise the marking workload. Want to claw back your weekend? Read on for 9 brilliant tips to minimise marking and reclaim your weekend.

1 – STOP writing so much. Shorten the amount of feedback you give. Learn to be succinct and cover the main point that will benefit the child in terms of feedback. Matt Pinkett, a head of English at a school in Surrey, reported to The Guardian, “a smarter way of marking is essential. Rather than scrawling endless comments over 30 books, I now write down things the class do well – or not so well – on a crib sheet of A3 paper and feed this back verbally to the class.”

2 – Not every careless mistake needs correcting. You can’t close mark everything.

3 – You don’t have to grade every piece of work.

4 – Mark pupils work as they are doing it, and discuss feedback with pupils in real time. This is much more useful to pupils than written feedback on work pupils will have forgotten about by the time they get their marked work back the following week.

5 – Get your children to hand in their work in alphabetical order. It makes it easier for recording grades in your gradebook or register.

6 – Try some peer marking (where it’s age appropriate). Get the children to grade some of their own work by swapping books with a class mate. You can go through the answers with them in class.

7 – Grade some work in the classroom while your pupils are busy taking a test or working on an activity requiring minimum supervision. Always take any opportunity in the classroom to get on top of the marking.

8 – Get the children to put a marker tag in their workbooks on the page that requires your input. This will save a little bit of time when you’re going through the marking pile!

9 – Don’t get hung up on Ofsted. Even Ofsted are trying to bust the myth that extensive marking is beneficial for pupils’ learning. Sean Harford, HMI National Director for Education has advised Ofsted Inspectors not to report on marking practice, or attribute the degree of pupils progress pupils have made to effective or ineffective marking.

Reduce marking time and you’ll not only reclaim your weekends, you can spend more time doing things that will make you a better teacher, and help you to have more enjoyable and fulfilling weekends. Your pupils will benefit instantly from your renewed energy. Marking all weekend is soul-destroying and will eat away at your morale.

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