We have been working on our assessment policy. Alongside this is our marking and feedback policy that clearly forms a large part of this. We have been having many interesting debates and conversations around this. However, we have been going forwards and backwards with how we ‘mark’ work in class. We keep asking ourselves what the purpose of marking is – ‘why’ we mark in the way that we do.
We know that verbal feedback and observation can often be the most effective and useful form of assessment. However, when we last did our book scrutiny, we found it difficult to unpick what really helped children to improve their work in regards to teacher/peer/self assessment/marking.
Children in our school are used to using their ‘purple polishing pens’ to show where they have improved their work based on feedback (either self/peer/teacher), but how do we know the ‘impact’ of this? Let’s take the English books for example. It can be difficult to ascertain the real ‘progress’ that is taking place day by day just by examining the marking and feedback in response. The only real measure is in talking to the children and seeing if they can actually explain how they would improve their work and ‘how’ they know that.
The other day, I walked into a classroom to be asked by the teacher to go and speak to a pair of children who had come up with their own form of assessment. In this particular class they had been focusing on effective feedback and really thinking about what would help them to constantly make progress and improve their writing skills. The pictures below show you what they came up with. It is a system that might look familiar – but the thing is….these children had never used a system like it before. They had created this themselves because they thought it would help them to pinpoint specific things from the success criteria that they felt they needed to improve. So, with the use of small tab post-its – they chose the criteria (using different colours) and then began using those same colours to highlight their work to get them to think about how to improve on these specific things. Absolutely awesome! But I was kicking myself!
Again, here is the evidence that children know how they learn and can improve better than anyone. They hold the answers! While we were in the staff room debating about what worked best, the children already knew! When asked the right questions, children usually can come up with better processes and procedures than a team of adults ever could. This is why pupil voice is so vital and central to all that we do as a school.
Children need to be consulted about the majority of the school policies and practices that feed into a school. After all, they are the ones who are mostly affected by them in the first place.
We all talk about ‘pupil voice.’ However, why hadn’t we approached our pupils about the most effective marking and feedback? Why hadn’t they been consulted first on what worked best? We asked them all the questions about how the marking and feedback helped them, what was most useful, how to improve, how they knew how to improve……but we never asked them to develop their own assessment system that they thought would be most effective. We only had them give opinions on things we already had in place.
So, go back to the very beginning and set your pupils the following task…
If you could develop your own assessment/marking/feedback policy to use in our school – what would it look like? What would be most effective? How would this system ensure continual improvement? Would it be different for KS1 and KS2?
Let me know the results…….