Swot Shop

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Isn't it strange that none of the recruitment ads shows an enthusiastic young teacher tackling a pile of marking? Now why might that be?

Marking - along with everything else - has had a makeover in recent years. It's now assessment and should be diagnostic and objective. It should give the pupils encouragement about their achievements with clear targets for improvement.

Teachers should include a written comment to explain any marks awarded, and grades should fit in with the marking policy as laid down by the department, school, LEA, EAZ, the DFES and the United Nations. (I think I made that last one up - but let me know.) Quite how this fits in with splashing red marks over 50-odd books while tucking into a pizza in front of Sex in the City is difficult to say.

Marks out of 10 are most definitely old hat. The vogue is for an attainment grade alongside a mark for effort. When young Brooklyn gets Z-minus for attainment alongside A-double plus for effort, he's supposed to be encouraged and motivated by the higher grade - hmmm. Still, this has to be better than the system operated in some schools whereby objective marks across the ability range are never awarded. Children reach GCSE under the impression that they are doing well, only to be faced by distinctly average grades in the exam.

Along with marking comes the mark book, as evidence of all those barren evenings spent correcting spellings, only to discover that committee may have two middle 't's, but commitment has only one.

A mark book full of grades can be casually flaunted during staff meetings. This can help to intimidate those who still appear to have a social life. And, when inspection comes around - dread thought - the ability to trace Darren and Tracey's woeful progress over five terms will no doubt prove invaluable.

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