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Book scrutiny: is this really a tool for support or monitoring?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Jan 17, 2019.


    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    And I’m sure that we are both excellent teachers.

    I agree with most of what you’ve said above. We do know our classes best and teachers are professionals who should be allowed a very high degree of professional judgement. But yes, I do think that a professional has to be accountable for their decisions and at least a degree of oversight is part of that.

    TEA2111 likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    I would love to see this attitude in schools. Look at the books to see if:

    The marking policy is actually achievable
    Is it suited for that subject and those students
    Does it actually make a difference to the students learning.
    Is it being applied correctly

    Then, and ONLY then - is the teacher ‘ working hard enough’.
  3. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Don't worry! They are just box ticking. I've been set loads of stuff over the years to improve.
    They've never checked to see if I have.
    I The marking policy should be " when necessary at the judgement of the individual teacher" IMO. And I can't accept that scrutiny is necessary. I must admit I too thought you must be SLT.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  4. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter


    On the point of people not checking:

    One school in which I was the timetabler decided to make a semester swap between a subject that had six periods a fortnight and a subject that had five periods a fortnight. My request as to which subject would change its number of periods and which other subjects would change to accommodate that change went unanswered, so I made the change myself. No one noticed.

    The same school decided to change the teaching conditions and curriculum structure and go from a fortnightly timetable to a weekly timetable. I knew this was mathematically impossible and that we would, so when I put out the first draft of the timetable, I had it as a fortnightly, not a weekly, one. No one noticed.
    lanokia and agathamorse like this.
  5. jusch

    jusch New commenter

    We do teacher feedback and student feedforward in different colours. If there is evidence of that in your books, you're fine. Your students are, obviously, making progress.

    If the person who scrutinises my books had any subject knowledge, they would quickly notice that two thirds of the student feedforward is incredibly superficial and mainly shows that the student has failed to engage with the feedback in any meaningful way. I sometimes wonder why this is: Is my feedback badly phrased? Is my handwriting illegible? When I am suggesting what "the next step" to improvement is, is it maybe not the right next step for them developmentally? Do they simply not like to read feedback and would respond better to a conversation?

    Nobody has ever commented on this issue after a book scrutiny.
    I would love to have a genuine discussion about this, but normally, SLT don't think beyond matters of format.
    TEA2111, agathamorse and PeterQuint like this.
  6. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    Kids do not read or care about written feedback. They like smiley faces and a "well done."
  7. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    Another pointless system in a broken and failing education system.
    Catgirl1964 and agathamorse like this.
  8. shevington

    shevington Occasional commenter

    If anybody wants a laugh go and check the books of classes that the SMT teach. Nobody seems to check their books.
  9. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    I think book scrutiny, in our school, is worthless. They're all based on conformity rather than doing what is right for the children. They don't add value to children's learning and they don't improve my teaching. Our marking policy genuinely is 4 colours and, well, we have to draw an animal if we want the child to speak to us about their work. I wish I was joking but I'm not. I actually feel quite embarrassed writing it.

    Our policy was reviewed to "reduce workload" (without any staff consultation about what works and doesn't) and it stayed much the same but for the addition of some symbols now on top of our rainbow. I can't remember half the symbols so I don't know how it's supposed to help the kids!

    Anyway, I digress. When you get feedback that you did not highlight every capital letter mistake in a child's book, it is so disheartening. This is for children who don't yet recognise that the letter p is a descender! Surely a better use of my time and a better form of feedback would be to just TALK to them about it and the evidence it's been addressed is that it reduces and ultimately stops.

    Other feedback includes the child whose work is legible, clearly set out and shows "evidence" of their learning... But they didn't underline the date once or twice.

    I find scrutiny incredibly stressful. Mainly because our book scrutinies are just not a supportive process designed to develop people professionally. There's no professional dialogue - it's just very top down. They make you feel like you're not trusted and it's an opportunity to beat you with a stick when you're already doing your best.
    Catgirl1964, TEA2111 and agathamorse like this.
  10. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I don't want you to be right.... but I know you are.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    What bugs me with the current system is that as teachers, we know what works -
    We look at their books to see whether they have done the work and whether they understood the lesson.
    We put in encouragement marks like gold stars and big ticks because they like that.
    We use the results of our check to write our lesson, filling in what they missed, having conversations with those not working hard enough and thinking how we can help the more able do better.
    Highlighters, comments, feed forward and all those other things that take so much time may work a bit, but are not effective enough to be worth the time, and we should invest our hours doing something else.
    Like John Hattie says - know thy impact.
    TEA2111 and agathamorse like this.

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