Marking expectations for teachers


As a teacher you might think if there are set marking expectations for the marking of pupils’ work? Is there a specific expectation for the type, depth or quality of marking from the Department of Education (DfE), Ofsted or even set by your school?

Depending on the subject you teach, age range and your educational setting, marking work can look drastically differently. 

In 2017, a  survey by Teacher Tapp, they found that most teachers are spending at least 3 hours marking per week and some mark up to 15 hours per week. So have expectations changed?

In this article, we look if there are any set expectations for the marking of work and what you can do to raise a concern if it is having a detrimental impact on your work/life balance.

What are marking expectations for teachers?

In the 2016 Eliminating Unnecessary Workload Around Marking Document from the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group it explains:

“Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.”

It goes on to explain:

No Government or Ofsted guidance or policy has set deep marking as a requirement. The Teachers’ Standards state that teachers should ‘give pupils regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking, and encourage pupils to respond to the feedback’. This is not a requirement for pupils to provide a written response to feedback: it could simply be that pupils should act on the feedback in subsequent work.”

We’ve written another article which summarises the Teachers’ Standards here.

Ofsted’s School Inspection Handbook explains it does not specify the frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback.

On the topic of work scrutiny during inspections, Ofsted explains:

“We will not:

  • specify the frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback
  • require schools to ensure a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders
  • require photographic evidence of pupils’ work (although inspectors may ask to take photographs themselves of pupils’ work, and will take all reasonable steps to anonymise these)”

Marking expectations: how have schools reduced marking for teachers?

There are numerous examples of schools which have reduced the marking of pupils’ works.

One example is of St Matthias Primary School where the new headteacher decided to start from scratch with a new no marking policy for her primary school. The principles from their feedback and marking policy include:

  • Evidence of feedback is incidental to the process; we do not provide additional evidence for external verification
  • Feedback should empower children to take responsibility for improving their own work; it should not take away from this responsibility by adults doing the hard thinking work the pupil
  • Written comments should only be used as a last resort for the very few children who otherwise are unable to locate their own errors, even after guided modelling by the teacher
  • Children should receive feedback either within the lesson itself or in the next appropriate lesson

The headteacher explains, “Overall, the marking approaches have worked really well. Teachers still have to spend time after school looking at books, but much less time. Pupils have to think harder and put effort into improving their work.”

The Education Support website also has a useful example of a humanities teacher who has managed to reduce her workload by making the move from marking to feedback in the classroom. She shares how she did it whilst ensuring students received timely, useful feedback to enable them to progress.

Marking work is having a detrimental impact on my wellbeing

If you are an Edapt subscriber you can contact us for further advice and support. It might just be the case that you will need to express your concerns professionally with your line manager or head of department to look at alternatives available.

We have written another article which explains how you can raise concerns to your line manager effectively.

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