Teachers are spending an excessive amount of time on detailed marking to appease parents, despite "sketchy" evidence about its effectiveness, a teachers’ conference has heard.
The claim came as teachers at the NASUWT conference voted to consult members on national strike action over “unsustainable” levels of workload.
Last year, a Department for Education-commissioned report on marking said there was “little robust evidence” to support the use of extensive written comments when marking pupils’ work, and said school leaders “must have the confidence to reject decisions that increase burdens for their staff for little dividend”.
And Ofsted has told its inspectors not to look for detailed marking.
However, Andy Grady, from Burton-on-Trent, told the conference this morning that marking was “probably the biggest percentage of our workload”, despite research being “pretty sketchy” about its effectiveness.
He told delegates: “Slow, ineffective marking is worthless. The phrase 'catching up on my marking' should be banned.”
He added: “I think some teachers mark heavily because of parent-aphobia, they've got the fear of parents that they will see that the book is not marked excessively.
“I think the message we need to get over to parents, the public, is that marking is not all that it's cracked up to be.
“I've got a colleague who gets excellent results, really excellent results, but he barely touches his books. I'm his head of department. I leave him alone.
“Parents, if your child is not succeeding by all means question the quality of teaching - and I love taking those phone calls.
“And question whether your child is being taught how to be an independent learner, because they need to be taught how to be independent before you moan about the books being marked.”
The effect of marking on teacher workload has raised several times from the podium was the first two days of NASUWT's conference, with many delegates complaining about demands for deep marking, triple marking, or the use of different coloured pens when giving pupils feedback.