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St James Primary School

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Feedback and markinG

You will notice that neither Maths nor English books are marked in the traditional way. This is because the school is now operating a “whole class feedback model”.  

Why are you doing “whole class feedback” and not marking my child’s book individually?

The most up to date research shows that the impact of traditional and formal marking is very little on a child’s progress. Much of the time the comments aren’t read by the child, or they can’t read them, or they’re not acted upon. This is a lot of teacher effort for very little gain, so by freeing up teacher time to plan next steps for each child individually, this allows for the next lesson personalised to them. Teachers have to and will look at every book every day, but they will be making general notes as to who needs what next, rather than individual highlighting or comments or ticks. Please click here to see a copy of the sheet.

What, you’re never going to tick a book again?

No, we will sometimes mark something traditionally, but this will probably be when the teacher is actually sitting with the child, rather than afterwards away from them. And if a teacher wants to make a quick comment about something fantastic (or terrible) that they see in a book they may still do that. Remember they are still looking at each book every day, just not making a pen mark on it.

Is this possible with 30 children in a class?

Yes, because even though each child is an individual, many of them will have similar strengths and weaknesses after each lesson. Those children can then be taught the next step together in the next lesson. Children who have specific learning needs will have ‘CTA’ written in their books; this means call to action and a staff member will work with the child the following day to address any problems.

What about children who always get things right?

They shouldn’t! If they are being challenged, they shouldn’t find their work easy and this will be noted by the teacher and the next steps planned for to ensure each child is challenged.

What about children who always get things wrong?

Again they shouldn’t, if the teacher is pitching the work correctly it should be challenging but within their capabilities.

But my child is in the top/middle/bottom group!

Not anymore. The groups have been fluid for a long time at our school, as we do not believe children’s abilities are fixed. The way we are marking now means that children may change group daily depending on how well they learned that day’s lesson. Teachers are planning responsively all the time.

Surely teachers know what they’re doing before the week starts, how can they change it daily?

Teachers know what they are teaching over the course of a term, and what they are aiming for the children to learn across a week. But the fine details, the “who needs what next” is done responsively, after each lesson, once every child’s book has been looked at. Teachers then plan for the next lesson, and because they now know exactly what each child needs, they can plan the lesson to meet all of those needs. Before, the children had to fit into the teacher’s plan (which meant there was a lot of pressure on the teachers to predict how each child would learn). Now, the teacher plans in direct response to the children’s learning needs, as and when they appear.

My child thrives on knowing how well they did in a task. How will the teachers communicate this to them?

The beginning of every maths and English lesson is whole class feedback. Teachers can show children good examples of work through putting it up on the screen. They can also look at common errors and misconceptions and ask the children to look back in their own work to find whether they had these or not. This is a far more important skill to learn than the teacher telling them. This is also the time when children will receive praise for their efforts: publically if they thrive on this, or privately during the lesson if they do not. Each teacher will know which the best way to do this is.

So what does the feedback look like?

It is a sheet of notes on a format for the teacher to use when they are checking the books. The whole time the teacher is looking at a book they are thinking “What are the next learning steps for this child?” The teacher makes their notes on the left hand side of the page, and the right had side is where they make notes on the next steps for each child or group of children. They are monitored by the senior leadership team, but they are not completed for senior leaders, they are completed in order to enable every child to make good or better progress by matching the next learning to the needs of each child.

What should I look for in my child’s book then?

Look for their own corrections, look for something they get wrong one day, they get right the next day. Older children should be able to tell you what they need to work on next because they will check for themselves and think about their own next steps within independent tasks.

Is this just for years 1-6?

Yes, but actually it builds very well on what has been happening in Early Years Foundation Stage for a long time.