It’s a familiar sight in school car parks up and down the country. As the premises manager locks up for the night, teachers stream out of the school building weighed down by the books, stacks of paper and assignments that they will spend the evening or weekend marking.
It’s no secret that marking is one of the biggest contributors to teachers’ workload. And now it has been singled out as one of the areas that Ofsted inspectors will focus on in their assessment of Senior Leadership Teams and how effectively they manage the workload of teaching staff.
Tweeting at the start of the academic year, Ofsted Director of Education Sean Harford, announced teachers would be asked to rate their SLT on how much consideration they give to workload when introducing new policies. Inspectors will assess the impact on teacher workload of SLTs’ decisions regarding planning, the use of data, marking and assessment.
While marking and personalised feedback are time consuming, research shows that they have considerable impact in moving learning forward. The Sutton Trust/Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching & Learning Toolkit concludes that it can accelerate progress by up to eight months. This makes quality feedback the biggest hitter in the teacher’s arsenal of tools to support the progress of their students.
If Ofsted’s spotlight on teacher workload is to drive positive change in this area, schools will have to evaluate their own formative assessment practice and be prepared to explore some bold alternatives.
So how can educators continue to provide their students with effective feedback in a way that is both well-targeted and time-effective?
As digital learning environments such as Google Classroom continue their steady march into UK classrooms, it may be that online assessment tools hold the answer. Assessment tools like StudyBee, which sits within Google Classroom, allow teachers to assess a student’s work against customisable National Curriculum descriptors and provide feedback at the click of a button. What’s more, teachers can use their bank of digital marking to get an overview of a student’s progress towards attainment targets or a snapshot of their learning over the course of a unit of learning or half term.
The integration of digital marking with assessment data analysis for formative assessment saves time and provides meaningful feedback that can inform next steps in planning. To find out for yourself how StudyBee could streamline marking and assessment in your school, download a free trial here.