What keeps me awake at night - These outdated rules are wide of the mark

17th January 2014 at 00:00

Marking is slowly destroying my passion for teaching. Not because I don't think feedback is important but because of the outdated, irrelevant criteria we have to adhere to.

We now have detailed instructions on how to mark a book, what to write and how to write it. This completely takes away control from the teacher over how best to use feedback in the classroom. We teachers know which students benefit from certain approaches, which perform better after written or vocal feedback, how best to handle certain pieces of work and so on.

It wouldn't be so bad if the methodology prescribed to us - which we have to use to gain good ratings from inspectors - worked. It doesn't. I flick from page to page only to find the same mistakes that I commented on less than a week before.

What is this overly prescriptive feedback advice based on? Why has the judgement of teachers been overlooked in favour of an ineffective, one-dimensional approach?

It is complete bureaucratic madness. It is the type of control that drives teachers out of the profession and stifles the passion and creativity of those remaining. Why can't we judge on outcome instead of attempting to predetermine one?

I achieved good results as a teacher for many years using a marking methodology that worked for me and my students. And yet if I want to pass an all-important inspection I must now change my method to one that I can see has no positive impact at all.

You have to ask where it will stop. How far away are we from having downloadable presentations with set scripts that we must relay like robots?

Yes, we need some sort of common idea of what good teaching looks like, but this should be a broad church where all methodologies shown to be effective are welcome, not a singular approach dreamed up by someone who rarely sees how a real classroom operates over an extended period of time.

For now it is only a marking methodology that we are being forced to adhere to; I fear that soon our whole profession will be reduced to following a predefined script.

The writer is a teacher in Abu Dhabi

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Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk.

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