Summer Feedback Trilogy-Part 1 The thing we use to call marking

Colleagues have been gathering their thoughts in faculties about the Magic Moments observed in our summer observations and sharing examples of their latest feedback tactics offered to line-managers during book monitoring. Although staff are tired as the term comes to its end and have been exhibiting some very different pedagogical [and other] skills during our Sport’s Week, they have still managed to celebrate their successes and hopes for next year with each other. I usually put them all together for internal purposes and then on to the external blog so others can borrow if they wish to. It’s such a huge read, that I’ve split them this time into 3 parts! Thank you to all who have contributed and continue to inspire me and allow me into their thoughts, concerns, ideas and classrooms.

Preparing the new school SEF and SIP pushed me to read the new Ofsted handbook and criteria in greater detail than the cursory glances I gave it a few weeks ago when it first appeared. My changing role will still involve professional development and it was good to see in the outstanding criteria;

Staff reflect on and debate the way they teach. They feel deeply involved in their own professional development. Leaders have created a climate in which teachers are motivated and trusted to take risks and innovate in ways that are right for their pupils.

It’s become part of our culture now that we organise our directed time and inset to allow open and honest debate about learning and teaching and risks are encouraged so that innovative ideas are trialled and should they not work; lessons are learnt. It remains important that we need to constantly seek ideas and expertise from external sources too and different approaches to the way we might think/do things are always welcome. A couple of interesting ideas re the use of book scrutinies and use of marking as a method of monitoring/checking progress are here; @mrhistoire

Our observations and book monitoring is different to many other schools, and I’m aware from colleagues who visit us, that our approach interests them whether they agree or disagree with it! I can’t hide my dislike of grading observations or tightly imposed structures for monitoring ‘marking’-BUT we do what works for us and is best for our staff and students. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t ‘Ofsted savvy’ –I need to know what they are up to support schools via our Teaching School remit and watch the subject specific current inspections like a hawk, just in case! Their outstanding feedback criteria is what you might expect [they seem to like the word incisive!] without dissecting every word and I would imagine most schools have something similar in their own policies. In Michael Tidd’s post above he gives the EEF description of feedback and we can discuss the use of oral, written or any other form of feedback at length in another blog-this one simply shares some of our current and proposed practice!

Teachers provide pupils with incisive feedback, in line with the school’s assessment policy, about what pupils can do to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills. The pupils use this feedback effectively

Pupils are eager to know how to improve their learning. They capitalise on opportunities to use feedback, written or oral, to improve.

 The questions that I asked faculties to feedback on will become apparent as you read through their responses. I’ll begin with English.

SF 1

SF 2









I’ve explained in previous blogs that I like staff to experiment with their feedback to find what is best for them and their classes within a loose whole school policy.

I will always suggest that if well-known marking acronyms/phrases are used that E is added for evidence and examples-e.g. What Went Well [Evidence of what was so good] Even Better If [Example provided] to make peer critique even tighter-same for 2 stars and a wish which is used occasionally with some of our younger lowest ability students as part of their transition from primary.

The English faculty have thought long and hard about finding quick feedback strategies which will impact both on actual specific English needs and staff workload in creating the most effective intervention tactics. They shared their new idea with the rest of the staff-this might be the last time we see some of the above slides! I can’t do justice to this using pictures and words but will explain it more after a term or so of trialling it. The maths faculty have already told me that they like this and as both faculties have begun to meet together to discuss their research project [another blog!]-watch this space!


You can see that they have designed a set of symbols to allow them to mark quickly and then use the symbols for the students to interpret and respond to as part of the feedback and dialogue process. They hope that the use of symbols and agreed intervention criteria will be easier for them to track and give a bit more time to actually intervene purposefully to support students who have struggled with certain aspects of their learning. Looks good on paper and I’m delighted to see them innovate and I will be fascinated to see if this is something that makes a difference to both sets of learners [students and teachers]





Each teacher discussed different aspects of their feedback and the risk taken during observations. A more detailed discussion will take place in September to decide faculty learning, teaching and feedback priorities-this is to give our middle leaders a real grasp of what is currently working well and areas that need professional development and will feed into the whole school SIP.

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

TM- A variety of dialogues completed during dirt. The use of questioning allows pupils to develop their answers.  Students are challenged linking to their targets to push to the next level & grade. Students will be asked to prioritise, explain or asked the other side of an argument. With regards to GCSE questions – aimed at pushing pupils up to Level 3 of mark scheme. GCSE questions often link to skills e.g. P.E.E ensuring pupils either fully explain their answers or include relevant data to justify their answers

MD- After first book monitoring purple pens were introduced which evidenced improvements and feedback which was then checked and improvements grades were issued. This strengthened the 3 way marking process that was already in place and made it more visual.

GT- The use of level up activities within history from both peer and teacher questions has really allowed pupils to develop and improve on exam questions across KS3. Pupils use the mark scheme and their own understanding to ask questions that really push pupils to close the gap on their target grade. This is then re-marked and if successful pupils are given a ‘level up’ grade. I also really enjoyed using Helens ‘What’s missing’ activity with pupils which has allowed them to use peer providing to highlight how pupils could improve their exam answers to increase their grade/mark. It served as a great way for pupils to see where they could improve their work before redrafting it.

HY- 7.7 feedback responded which has been developed throughout the year, they have enjoyed dot marking which works well with low ability. Assessment slips show students clearly what level they are on and how to reach the next level. Students know exactly what they are working on and towards. DIRT stickers are used to show they have overcome learning challenges.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

ED – Low ability year 9 learning case study material on Bangladesh and retaining information was really rewarding for them and myself. Also this same group used dictionaries and GCSE text books to learn meanings of key geographical words to enable them to understand geographical text. Through this they were able to use the terminology to complete 6mark GCSE questions. Using this terminology allowed them to reach the higher marks within the question.

TM- year 10 using PEE chains. Helped them structure their 6 mark extended answers and allowed the students to gain more confidence. Over time these were withdrawn and now the students can answer there question more effectively.

MD- first observation – students completed a causal web with low ability year 10 GCSE. I adapted high ability task and added challenge which students more than lived up to which showed me that low ability thrive from aspiration and high expectations.

GT- The penny dropping moments within my last observation with Y8 history where they were applying their understanding in a solo taxonomy activity that had been introduced to the pupils that lesson. Penny drop was when Eve was able to make links between pictures that I had not initially thought of during the planning. This was even further developed in the peer assessment where pupils were encouraged to highlight further links on other pupil’s visual hexagons.

HY- with GCSE exam mats which include 6 mark answering techniques and command words students enjoy using these. Low ability year 10 who struggle with extended writing used these and were able to achieve higher levels in their questions.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

TM- Redrafting – y10 pupils redrafted their work after an assessment. Pupils showed great growth mind-set and it was clear they wanted to improve to do their very best. (example from Aleta attached)

MD- Based on feedback to a year 8 assessment 2 students returned at lunchtime and wanted to further improve their assessments to achieve a level up.

GT- I have found that a large range of my feedback opportunities have tested pupils resolve and has been a growth mind set challenge, especially for lower ability pupils as they have had to critique using success criteria. I have found modelling has supported this. Also, making improvements on level up and redrafting is a challenge for pupils as many do not like redoing work, as some of the more positive improvements really show the effort that have put into improving.

HY- Jasmine Evans didn’t make her target grade – she returned after school for extra support. This helped improve and reach her target showing a positive growth mind set.  

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

TM- see pictures attached showing marking.

MD- year 9 – Created a how to answer exam style question revision guide by writing on the desks. Students worked as a class to improve each desk and wipe out incorrect information collectively created an effective learning resource which has then been used when planning answers.

GT- I have found that using both peer verification has proved a really great opportunity for pupils to critique each other’s work both across KS3/KS4, it has given then a chance to develop their critique and setting targets/improvements on this. Also, I encourage pupils to write their own peer critique using WWW/EBI and setting targets/questions which are answered within the classroom.

HY- peer assessed effort in lesson of each other – BSG, different questions about group discussion, using geographical vocab and leading roles. Students self-assessed their effort and then peer assessed agreeing or disagreeing. 

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

TM- Have trialled dot marking with low ability and found it very useful. Pupils are beginning to become familiar with this process and can now identify mistakes easily. Labels stuck onto lower sets to show where feedback has been left. Removed once I am happy with responses – Pupils now have high expectations when it comes to DIRT tasks as they know I will check all work. (They also seem to hate having the labels stick out of their books so are keen to get rid of them by completing high standard work!) Mock exam review – Review after mocks to identify key areas of strength and areas for development. I have found this really helpful and it allows students to easily reflect on their work.  Fast feedback – GCSE mark scheme highlighting – When pupils answer a GCSE past paper question they stick in the mark scheme long with their answer. I then use this to mark the work, highlighting where they have hit criteria of the mark scheme. This allows me to give specific feedback which links directly to what the mark scheme is looking for without having to write lots. Use of HYs GCSE mats

MD- re-drafting – using the redrafting form students were able to use peer and teacher feedback to redraft work to show clear progress.

GT- SPag Bombs, personalised stickers, SPIT marking, Highlighter Marking – These are a variety of methods I have tried to introduce help familiarise students with peer critique and to also vary the methods used so pupils are challenged and stay engaged. SPaG bombs have allowed me to focus on improving spelling of key words across KS4, whilst personalised stickers have increased my fast feedback, high level questioning and have overall made my marking more efficient.

HY- dot marking and GCSE mats, growth mind set displays, growth mind sets efforts plenary. Introducing peer assessment of GCSE questions at KS3.

Each individual teacher please also be ready to explain the ‘risk’ they took in the recent lesson observation and explain what the impact on learning was. Where will you take it next?

TM- used a role play activity with year 8 – was worried they wouldn’t participate and be shy however they excelled and verbally used their key geographical knowledge to take part effectively. They still talk about the activity as they can remember the key knowledge of the lesson clearly. Next I would give the students more responsibility within their roles and filter this through to lower ability classes.

MD- boxing to argue – developing arguing for and against skills allowing them to be in charge of decision making exercise. Pupils had to think on their feet developing their speaking and listening skills and apply this then to 10 and 12 mark questions. This will be trialled with lower ability students.

GT- A risk I took was getting pupils to set create, set, share and peer assess their own 12 mark questions at GCSE. This was a strategy new to me as it aimed to develop pupil’s skills as answering a range of questions

HY – speaking and listening – students had talk tokens given when good geographical conversations were taking place. This was with a high ability class therefore higher order terminology was required to achieve a token. This encouraged students and helped them with answering GCSE questions. After speaking to Dave I would try giving the tokens to the students and allowing them to decide when their partner deserved a token for good use of terminology.

The humanities gentlemen have shared lots of photos of their feedback in 2015 blogs so I’ll give our geography NQT Toni a clarion call for her continual refection and refining of her feedback strategies by sharing some of her snaps.

The first 3 show some targeted questioning and then the follow up self-evaluation to see that the advice/knowledge has been met/memorised.





Toni has encouraged the students [red pen] to peer assess SPaG and BSG criteria-this was an early example [Toni began her NQT in November] and Toni would now ensure an example of an explanation was given by the peer marker. This development in her feedback is seen below.


SF17  SF18


Miss then verifies the peer critique saving her time and by supporting better quality peer critique, the learners are hopefully strengthening their skills and knowledge.


And she also finds time to teach G.C.S.E geography too!


Performing Arts

The creative ladies had an early attempt at September’s inset activity-individual colleagues will share their learning/teaching and feedback triumphs and their priorities for 2015/16 [based on their appraisal foci and professional portfolio] so faculty leaders can easily collate an overall PD need to match individual and faculty needs-this then comes to me to give me a whole school picture.


For our book monitoring or scrutiny, colleagues self-evaluate their feedback first, highlighting areas of interest before passing books representative of the different cohorts to their line manager.

Some have wonderful colour schemes to represent the different factors we are currently trialling. See Toni’s below


Book scrutiny is a professional development exercise in the same spirit as our observations are developmental-this doesn’t make them a soft option! If feedback needs to be developed further, targets are agreed upon but the whole process of collaboration and sharing of ideas means that there are always examples of great practice from within our own school to go to for inspiration and guidance. I liked Sophie’s idea of including her summer evaluation after her Autumn/winter one so that she could link and explain her own professional progress and development over this



Thank you to all who shared their ideas in part 1. Part 2 will star our scientists!

Thanks for reading












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