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Book Scruitinies

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by missmohican, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. missmohican

    missmohican New commenter

    Hi all,

    How many book scrutinies would you expect in a year? I started at a new school this year and have had 4 so far, I think (2x English, 1x maths, 1x science) and have just been told that we are having another for English and maths on Thursday. Am I right in feeling this is unreasonable? In the past 2 years that I have been teaching I think I had 1 in English and 1 in maths. (This isn't including when books have been looked at as part of observations in either school, although in this school after my observation the HT took the books away to look at which I haven't had done previously).

    Thanks, and have a good weekend:)
  2. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    In my last school, the biggest bugbear about 'book-looks' (sounds like something you get from IKEA) was that half the students' exercise were sitting on someone's desk, forcing you to use file paper, making the exercise books look scrappy, so you got hauled over the coals from at the next book scrutiny.
  3. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    We have 3 or 4 a year, providing they are done fairly I don't have an issue with them. If you don't mark your books for months on end and you get caught then that's your fault.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  4. JessicaRabbit1

    JessicaRabbit1 Senior commenter

    I've lost count this year. Often we don't even get feedback anyway. My books are always marked and up to date but nothing is ever good enough; they always find something to criticise.
    Landofla, badger_girl and JRiley1 like this.
  5. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    We have two different types of book scrutiny going on - one which I don't mind and the other which I feel is a bit unfair.

    HoD gives us a timetable of when she will do book scrutinies and then we follow it, to make sure those classes are marked up-to-date ready to hand in to her. She's done this sensibly based on when we teach the groups so she can check and return them to us before we next teach them (avoiding the problem Jolly_Roger mentioned). Having the timetable gives me an added impetus to keep on top of marking, and as they're more about gathering evidence of good practice within the department they're not threatening at all.

    The other kind is where SLT select a random assortment of pupils from different year groups, and summon them to an office to check their books and have a conversation about them. We never know when these are happening or who has been picked - you only find out if the pupil is called out of your lesson, or if they are not happy about something.

    The issue I have with this is that some pupils books are not marked up to date for other reasons. ie: they were absent last time you collected books in / they failed to hand it it when asked / they had forgotten their book on that occasion. If I was pulled up on my marking over something like that, of course I would them present the member of SLT with the books of other pupils in the same class to show I am doing my job properly and the one they checked was just the book that had slipped through the net. But I do feel this approach creates a culture of fear which should not be the case.
  6. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    You clearly have a better experience than me.

    We had three a year [sounds reasonable] but the expectations were very high. It wasn't just checking books were marked. If you missed a spelling, marked down. Comments had to be threefold, one praise, one constructive, one developmental question. These had to be done every two weeks. So in History once every two lessons. In English once every 6 lessons. So the marking burden was unevenly applied. Also homework and classwork had to be marked in depth like that. So that amounted to one A4 page of marking a week across all classes. And in greater depth at GCSE obviously. So doubled essentially.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  7. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    We have had 3 whole school ones this year. Everybook for every child for every year/subject must be available otherwise they assume you're hiding something. A very weak child didn't hand his book in and then was off for a week and I was asked 'what's the problem with providing his book?' I was like 'well he didn't hand it in and has been absent from school'. Seemingly the fact I had everything else wasnt good enough. I must have been hiding something.
  8. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    It's all about not trusting teachers. Of course they are also looking for marking in a multitude of different colours.

    I do question the value of marking books all the time. Is it done for the pupil (I doubt it) or Ofsted?
  9. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    I have no problem showing books, I get fed up with the fact that what they want to see has nothing to do with student learning.

    I once had feedback saying there was little evidence of student progress because they'd 'not responded to feedback'. The fact the child had made 3 sublevels progress in 6 months (so more than expected progress) somehow missed!!! After I pointed it out I was told 'that's very good but it's hard to see progress over time'

    At this point I gave up. Obviously somebody on SLT in a subject that has no marking doesn't quite understand how progress works.
    thethiefoftime likes this.
  10. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Indeed, I have no issue with marking for the child... kind of the whole point of a teacher. But we don't mark for the child, we mark to satisfy Ofsted.
    JRiley1 likes this.
  11. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    To some extent - I don't think it's a big surprise that we've had a lot more since Ofsted starting looking at us more.

    However I think many students really like to get the feedback and whenever I mark I see the kid who's book it is (hopefully I know who they are) not some inspector.

    My books are good - no graffiti and generally pretty presentable - my groups generally progress well. Another teacher I know is the opposite - it's not entirely a coincidence I think.
  12. JRiley1

    JRiley1 Established commenter

    There is a push on children responding to marking and I think it can be overboard. Recently I found my old primary books and there was ticks and the odd 'well done' comment and I've turned out ok without responding to everything! I kno marking has its place, but I agree the learning can be overlooked and sometimes feel like I'm marking it for the sake of it and its not helpful.

    Back to scrutinies, we've had 2 so far; one was a book look and one more in depth and that was all books. In my last place I had 2 all year! Schools are doing what they like!
  13. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    There shouldn't be much work in books. Work in books is just there to show how much they have learned. There are other ways of testing that and it shouldn't be done more than once a month because, if you're constantly testing, you're not teaching new material.

    You can learn a lot in a plenary about who's 'got' it and who hasn't. There's bog all use in writing in books unless it's perhaps an essay. And how often do you need them to write an essay?

    Endless pages of sums aren't necessary either.
    rouxx and JRiley1 like this.
  14. JRiley1

    JRiley1 Established commenter

    Unfortunately @grumpydogwoman it's often the case of: if the work isn't in the books then kids ain't learnt it!
    Landofla likes this.
  15. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Says who?
    ScotSEN likes this.
  16. JRiley1

    JRiley1 Established commenter

    HTs, slt, etc, I'm not saying I agree, there are activities not seen in books but there are people in schools that hold this view.
    Landofla likes this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Just shows they know nothing.
    ScotSEN likes this.
  18. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    ....and show a massive distrust of their staff.
    JRiley1 likes this.
  19. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    When did this shift occur? My HTs always trusted me. And I'd trust my staff. I'd know if they were hopeless because the kids would be rioting and other teachers and TAs would be dropping big hints about them. I'd support them in the knowledge that it's a bloody miracle kids learn anything given the size of groups and the fact that there's no longer much in the way of disciplinary sanctions.

    What is WRONG with these little Hitlers?
    Dragonlady30 and Compassman like this.
  20. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Can I just point out that work scrutinies have a detrimental impact far beyond JUST the marking workload.

    They determine the quality of homework set. [and yes this could be a seperate argument in itself]

    They determine the nature of the tasks set in class [I was setting a lot more posters because they could be easily disposed of]

    They determine teacher time in the class setting. I interviewed at one school and on the tour, I noted most classes, the teacher had their head down marking while the TA did the job of assisting pupils.

    If you make the books the centre of a teachers job instead of the pupils, this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the damage you are inflicting!
    Dragonlady30 and ScotSEN like this.

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