5 Myths around Marking and Assessment


By Susan Cowell

1. Ofsted expect regular and extensive marking in pupils’ books

“Marking has proved to be one of the hardest myths to bust”, Sean Hartford

“Ofsted do not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in children’s books…” Ofsted inspections: myths, 2016.

Ofsted are looking for marking to be in line with the school’s assessment policy, meaning you do not require extensive collections of marked pupil’s work for your inspection.

2. Detailed and in-depth marking is REQUIRED by teachers

This is a culture change for many schools and teachers that are used to using techniques such as triple marking to help provide evidence to OFSTED of the quality of feedback they provide pupils.

“There is remarkably little high quality…evidence to suggest that detailed or extensive marking has any significant impact on pupils’ learning”, Sean Hartford, HMI National Director of Education.

This view is supported by the Marking Review Policy Group, “marking practice that does not have the desired impact on pupil outcomes is a huge time- wasting burden…and has to stop”, Dawn Copping, Chair of the Marking review group.

3. We cannot reduce the unnecessary workload on teachers

It’s a known fact that teacher workload is an issue. The Workload Challenge Survey found that 53% of respondents felt that “the excessive nature, depth and frequency” of marking is burdensome.

Many schools using Balance have seen their staff workload reduce significantly. By using the system to support in-classroom formative assessment and replacing excessive marking with verbal feedback. Using the system formatively means that all of your preparation for progress meetings and assessment weeks is readily available.

4. Schools should use Assessment tools summatively

There is more and more research coming out to support the need for formative assessment as this helps to: identify gaps in learning, see small steps of progress, plan lessons and interventions.

The Final Report of the Commission on Assessment without Levels, 2015 agrees that formative assessment has multiple benefits, including “improving the quality of teaching, contributing to raised standards and reinforcing schools’ freedom to deliver education in the ways that best suit the needs of their pupils…”

5. Statutory assessment is what OFSTED are most interested in

Ofsted’s 2015/16 Annual report recognised that the issue with the curriculum being narrowed led to limited opportunity to develop learning at greater depth. The 2017 NAHT redressing the balance report argues that the use of data from national assessments can have a negative impact of pupil performance.

The NAHT are now promoting that “Statutory assessment should be separated from ongoing assessment that happens in the classroom.”

Balance is providing schools with a means of reporting learning journeys through use of formative assessment, which takes place in the classroom whilst the learning is happening.

If you are interested in how Balance helps: reduce teacher workload, support in- classroom formative assessment, monitor pupils’ learning journeys and provides clear, easy to understand analysis, we are running online demonstrations and school visits to give you a chance to see Balance “live” in action.