Damian Hinds has pledged to ‘strip away’ teacher workload. Well we can all ‘strip away’ things, from paint to clothing, but surely this sounds like removing thin layers rather than wholesale changes.
So what things is he going to remove?
Well for a start he could insist that school managers remove the need for every book to be marked every day. Assessment of learning is vital in any good teacher’s role, but that does not mean explicitly marking every book and writing a comment.
Reading Bernard Trafford’s column in the TES this week resonated well with a lot of teachers. One comment was particularly enlightening, where an KS1 teacher spoke of having to write a progress comment in every Y1 pupil’s literacy book, using language that they may understand verbally, but have no hope of reading, let alone being able to act upon it.
Earlier in the week, Gavin Goulds wrote a piece about how his department had cut the amount of marking to a half page of A4 per lesson. Well this is not marking, it is evaluating learning through assessment and evidencing where the learning needs to go next. This is the problem, many school leaders have taken OfSTEDs words for ensuring progress by effective and regular assessment to mean’ Regular Marking’, as this not only ticks the box, it also gives parents & carers the impression that their child’s work is being looked at.
Again, the pedagogical methods of effective assessment and feedback have been hijacked to demonstrate the wrong things to the wrong people.
Let’s get back to what our job is, supporting the intellectual development of young people, through using an effective feedback loop that allows everyone to flourish at their own level and make progress beyond their current performance. If this means immediate verbal feedback that can be actioned within the lesson, peer and self assessment to set criteria and reviews of assessment and exams, then so be it.
Let’s give learning back to the child, then we could have more time planning more effective lessons acting on our assessment rather than endlessly trawling through book after book writing 3 stars and a wish or EBI statements, that will only be read by senior leaders, OfSTED and parents and will have NO impact on learning.