Ofsted is still working hard to change the way in which marking and feedback is approached in schools. The latest School Inspection Update for inspectors contains the following message from Sean Harford.

 “The last three school inspection updates have included information about our myth-busting work, including drawing attention to the reports from the DfE’s Workload Challenge review groups that looked at marking, planning and data management.

As I have said before, marking has proved to be one of the harder myths to bust. In part, this has been because we have continued to report on it extensively at some inspections, especially with reference to areas for improvement in previous inspection reports from some time ago. I remain concerned that we continue to see some inspection reporting which gives the impression that more detailed or more elaborate marking is required, or indeed that it is effective in promoting pupils’ achievement. Inspectors must not give the impression that marking needs to be undertaken in any particular format and to any particular degree of sophistication or detail; the reference to marking on page 10 of the school inspection handbook deals with this.

As both the Workload Review group on marking (March 2016) www.gov.uk/government/groups/teacher-workload-marking-policy-review-group  and the Education Endowment Foundation (April 2016) reported, there is remarkably little high quality, relevant research evidence to suggest that detailed or extensive marking has any significant impact on pupils’ learning. So until such evidence is available, and regardless of any area for improvement identified at the previous inspection, please do not report on marking practice, or make judgements on it, other than whether it follows the school’s assessment policy. Also, please do not seek to attribute the degree of progress that pupils have made to marking that you consider to be either effective or ineffective. When reporting, please do not make recommendations for improvement that involve marking, other than when the school’s marking/assessment policy is not being followed by a substantial proportion of teachers; this will then be an issue for the leadership and management to resolve.”

I hope you will find this useful, when considering the effectiveness of your own school’s marking policy and practice.