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How much marking do secondary teachers do?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by WB, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. WB

    WB New commenter

    I visited my brother tonight. His daughter started year 7 a few weeks ago.

    He showed me her maths and English books; they haven't been seen by a teacher at all.

    I teach primary so I don't want to judge but I was a bit surprised. I wasn't expecting her books to be marked everyday but not once since she started. I'm curious, is this normal?

    I'm not asking for whether you think marking works - I have my doubts! How often do you mark books?
  2. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    Books, almost never.
    Homework, once per week from 8 classes.
    Tests once every 3 weeks from 8 classes.
    Exams once per term from 5 classes and once per year from 3 classes.

    Test marking involves question level analysis to identify student strength/weaknesses as well as gaps in teaching, intervention then planned onto next 3 week cycle.

    If I was expected to mark books as well, I'd quit.
    agathamorse and SomethingWicked like this.
  3. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    Oh forgot to say; that's on a reduced timetable.
    My colleagues do the same but with more classes.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    Having taught Secondary and now Primary, I would say marking in Primary is generally excessive but in secondary not really sufficient.
    Especially new Year 7 pupils arrive full of the intention to work hard, but after a month of little or no marking they start to give up. Going from having their books marked every day to hardly at all has a clear detrimental affect.
    When I was on supply, I quite often marked a few KS3 books just out of boredom.
    Lara mfl 05 and chelsea2 like this.
  5. Sisyphus_rolls_again

    Sisyphus_rolls_again Established commenter

    What is the benefit of daily marking?

    Some secondary subjects only get 1 lesson a fortnight, it can't be doing much for pupil's resilience if they become dependent on written confirmation every day.
    agathamorse, hammie and Jamvic like this.
  6. maggie m

    maggie m Established commenter

    KS3 I mark once a week, KS4 I mark homework thoroughly and tick and flick classwork. KS5 I go through homework which is usually exam questions and they mark it. I do check they are doing this properly. I mark KS5 assessments every 5 weeks.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    'Books' in secondary are just for class work. The marking tends to be on formal pieces. Often these are on paper and stored separately. We've also moved to whole class feedback, in-class quizzes and other reduction of workloading.

    Consider a history teacher with two hours per class per week. Let’s say they have 11 classes. So around 330 pupils producing work. You’ll be lucky to get 2 minutes per pupil per week of marking. And then it’s very much not worth the paper it’s written on in terms of 'impact'.
  8. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    As an ex-history teacher, I would agree with the above. It does vary from school to school, and on how often you teach a class (as said above, sometimes only once a week).

    Better to focus marking on specific tasks than mark everything (which, given the number of classes/pupils taught is practically impossible.) From time to time I would take pupils' books in and check through for missing or exceptionally good work. Most pages would get a 'tick' to show I'd seen it, occasionally a brief comment. At the end I'd date it to show when I'd seen it (and under the same date in my mark book I'd use a code to show whether the work was generally 'VG/G/OK/Poor' etc. Specific tasks would, obviously, be grades according to a known mark scheme shared with the pupils, and more detailed written feedback given.
    Lara mfl 05 and agathamorse like this.
  9. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    I'd always wondered how my primary colleagues sustained marking on the day of the work...

    As a secondary English teacher, if I had a five-period day I would be at school marking for a good 3 hours once the final bell had gone (and just marking - never mind planning, meetings etc., admin, phone calls home etc.). For example, a set of Y10 books (28 kids) middle set and a top set Y11 (32 kids) can produce a huge volume of writing in each of their one hour lessons; then throw in three KS3 classes and...viola!.... and this is just marking books; don't get me started on assessments (or A Level, for that matter).

    My primary-school friend (Y6 teacher) said that if she knew she had a literacy-intensive morning, then she'd plan for activities in the afternoon (like art or PE) that would require no or little evidenced marking. A Y6 teacher doesn't have to mark five hours of literacy everyday (unlike a secondary teacher). They also usually have a TA who will photograph science experiments etc. and stick those into the books as evidence. We have no such resource at secondary.

    However, I'd also add that I do a lot of KS2 moderation as a part of my remit, and there are some schools where the teachers are writing much more than the students: incredible levels of feedback on every piece, every day. Do the students do any better than our other feeder schools with very similar kids? No. The only person in the equation working any harder is the teacher. As a rule of thumb, if I look in a book and see a teacher writing more than a student on any given piece of work then I think something has gone wrong - either in the design of the assessment, the instructions for the task, or in the behaviour/effort of the student.

    As a general rule, I try to mark KS3 about once every 3 weeks (I aim for two but it's difficult) - but it's very surface as Frank Wooley notes - a tick here, an emoji there: more in-depth marking is spent on assessments and next steps. For KS4, I check through books about once every two weeks, but we do a lot of mini-assessments which are more important and useful in terms of tracking progress. Note: as Mr Media has said above, assessments never go home, so parents would not be seeing a 'complete' picture.

    In the old days (ten years ago or so) we had a policy of never marking GCSE students exercise books - just coursework drafts (for obvious reasons - so they could improve before their 2nd, final draft) but it would soak up so much marking time! Plus, idle students would frequently not bother too much in the first drafts, placing the onus on the teacher's feedback to pick up on many things. I'm glad those days are gone.

    Finally - it is perfectly possible in this Y7's school they may not have a subject-specialist teaching them, or - just as likely - the teachers are overworked and focussing their marking time where it matters. As illustration, I used to share a Y7 class with a non-subject specialist (this particular teacher taught seven different subjects, as well as GCSE and A Level in her own specialism) - do you suppose that one hour of English teaching per week bothered her? Did she have time to learn how to mark in English? Where did the burden of marking fall? Me.
    Lara mfl 05 and agathamorse like this.
  10. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    "but in secondary not really sufficient.". Marking books doesn't matter. It doesn't improve anything. Only England does it, not another country on the planet does.

    Thinking that book marking matters is evident of a lack of reading into the literature of assessment and student improvement. Marking essays/tests/mocks with pointers as to where issues have arisen is useful and manageable. Anything else is superfluous.
  11. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    most work marking is done by students in class.

    we have to mark a small piece every 4 lessons, and a big piece every 6 weeks, for every class.

    This equates to roughly 2-3 hours marking a day

    however, none of my classes have had much marking at all this year, as I am off sick, and supply teachers do max 1 hour marking a day.

    Roughly a quarter of all classes are taught by supply teachers, non subject specialists, who probably don't mark much, if any, or do much marking in class
    Lara mfl 05 and agathamorse like this.
  12. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    I mark when it's appropriate. A practice test once per half, an assessment once per half term, and another random piece if I can manage it.
    sparkleghirl and agathamorse like this.
  13. Bobbbs

    Bobbbs Occasional commenter

    2-3 hours a day? 15 hours a week minimum. 90 hours a half term spent doing work that will have little impact, that's rough.
    Lara mfl 05 and agathamorse like this.
  14. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers Occasional commenter

    A piece of assessed work every 3 weeks or every 8 lessons, whichever is sooner. As curriculum wrangler, I plan 2 pieces of casual and 1 formal a half term.

    However, not every assessment is in their book - I know some depts in my school who have a "notebook" that kids have responsibility for, which gets flicked through for effort/misconceptions but not marked, and an assessment book where marked pieces go -- that does NOT go home.
    Lara mfl 05 and agathamorse like this.
  15. Ex-teacher

    Ex-teacher New commenter

    I was D+T

    When we were doing theory/design based work, I tried to mark the work in class with the student present. I had a "verbal feedback" stamp, but made the students write one or two bullet points summing up our discussions about how they could improve their work (Just for evidence sake!). Homework, set one week in 3, marked by me outside lessons, often after pupils had peer marked it.
    For practical work, they set their own "targets" at the start of the session and summed up what they had achieved/learnt at the end of the lesson. This was never marked, but may have had a tick occasionally. Students fed this back to each other start and end of lessons. Often had photographic evidence to show progress made, although this was a logistical nightmare...
    KS4 coursework was a different kettle of fish...individual feedback, marking drafts at home, post it notes by the hundred.... as for practical coursework, group marked with colleagues arguing for often 4 hours or more depending on numbers
    I tried to keep ks3 out of lesson marking to a minimum, (usually 2 sets a week) as most of my time was spent preparing materials for lessons and is 4 coursework
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Let me think... 6 weeks so 6 pieces of homework... all marked and subsequent follow up dialogue recorded.

    Classwork marked and recorded with follow up dialogue done and recorded. Spelling tests done and recorded.

    Over the 6 classes I teach I'd hazard I've marked them each at least once a week.

    I pretty much see my job as ''marking''... teaching is rather low down the priority ladder...

    If SLT shift their focus off of marking maybe I'll change. Meanwhile I'll have 3 lots of essays to mark over half term.

    Yeah easy life in secondary.
    Lara mfl 05 and agathamorse like this.
  17. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter


    In our dreams!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  18. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I used to have students' class work at one end of the book and homework and assessed work at the other. Unless there was something I could mark in the class work section, I left it alone. This seemed to be fine until the ridiculous marking policies kicked in, with every pen (or pencil) mark a student made had to by marked 'in depth', to 'Ofsted standards'. The SMT even dreamt up an 'initiative' they called 're-panning to find hidden nuggets', which involved us in marking students rough work retrospectively .
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    The benefit is to make those lazy teachers work harder.
    agathamorse likes this.
  20. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    I commented on this sort of thread elsewhere, in my first year I taught a Canadian Boy in Year 11. He had never ever had books marked, just tests an homework. He got a B for Maths. I'm definitely in the school of thought that much marking is a waste of time. I'm Maths so self marking at the time or peer marking are far more value than a teacher ticking randomly a week later.
    agathamorse likes this.

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