Over the past few weeks our staff have been working on our Feedback Policy, bearing in mind the DfE Report on unnecessary workload around marking. We had previously reviewed it from our marking policy and tried to make it more feedback and less marking for impact, but in light of the DfE report, we decided to have another look, checking against workload and life/work balance.
The main thrust of the discussion once again was who we are doing it for and why. We feedback to the children, to enable them to make progress, both within a piece of work and later.
It is also feedback for ourselves about next steps and who to pick up for pre-teaching and consolidation work. When feeding back and marking, in our minds we should be planning the next steps in learning.
A couple of teachers admitted that they do write more than others and more than our policy says but also admit that that is their choice, not an expectation from SLT. Our next step for those teachers is to work with them individually to check if this level of marking is making an impact or not. If not, why do it.
A positive that came out of our discussions was that many are feeding back within lessons more than previously and this is having a positive impact on the level of work produced by the children.
We then had a long conversation around the word consistency. Some see this as meaning we should all be doing the same. We landed on the idea that feedback and marking will not look or sound the same in each year group and definitely not in Reception and Year 6. So how could we be consistent? The answer is that within year groups and linked to the policy (which states what we do in each case) we will be consistent. We will also be consistent in terms of what the policy states is what is happening in classes and in books. We will use the same marking codes throughout school, at the appropriate time, so the children know them and know how to respond to each one.
It is taking some time. As discussed in previous blogs, some things that have unfortunately been ingrained in class teachers, for a variety of reasons, over time by SLT and the LA and these are very hard to change. Most teachers are on board and more or less comfortable with these changes. Others are still falling back into old habits. The subject leaders also need to be strong and support the teachers to change their habits and not police the marking system. They need to support teachers in looking at what is making a positive difference for the children and encourage this practice.
For some this change of mindset is difficult, for others the transition has been easy, because it is doing what they know is right for the children and themselves.
We will be looking closely at the planning and data/assessment reports next. We do not collect planning or expect it to be done on a certain format. We have already stopped collecting assessment data half termly (cannot believe we were reduced to doing that in the first place) and use pupil progress meetings to look at progress, using teacher knowledge of the children and evidence in their books. But those are for another day.