How to make marking mangeable

Jane Wood-Chambers

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Marking is an intrinsic part of teaching and one of the essential elements of any lesson. Along with key questioning, discussion and explanation, reading, assessing and then marking what a pupil has written triangulate the learning. How else do you know if what you have taught has been learnt and more importantly used and applied?

Marking can, however, be daunting, overwhelming and unless managed properly with a clear and insightful policy, be a waste of time!

How then do we make marking work for us, in terms of time taken to do it and meaningful to the pupils?

The first thing to remember is that all written work must be marked!

Some of my rules for marking:

  • Marking should also be done before the next piece of work is completed in that subject. There is nothing more soul destroying than opening your exercise book to see that your last piece of work has not been marked.

  • Mark against the learning objective; if you were teaching poetry and the LO was to write a haiku poem then the marking should look at whether or not that was achieved. Spelling and handwriting are secondary and the pupils themselves can check their spellings and evaluate their handwriting once the LO has been marked against.


My comment may look like this:

You can write a haiku poem! (firstly, always be positive) There are 3 lines and the first and last line has 5 syllables. The middle line only has 6 though. How many should it have? Can you look at the class example and see if you can rewrite the middle line at the beginning of our next English lesson?

  • Allow the pupil to read the comment at the beginning of the next lesson and also allow time to complete any corrections or to undertake any extension activity.

  • Make sure the pupils know what they are achieving when you mark their work. Indicate if they are on track, above what is expected or if they need to put extra effort into their work or get extra support. Communicate the outcomes of the marking as well and contextualise it. This should be done every 2-3 weeks and certainly 4-5 times a term. The pupils are part of the process and can be involved in their own assessment cycle.

laptop writing

A few additional hints for reducing the marking workload!

1. When planning your unit of work or your lesson think about the activity that you are going to ask the pupils to do for each lesson in each subject. Recording all their learning is not always necessary. Pupils can have class discussions that are fed back from their groups and notes can be made to ensure all pupils answers are marked against the learning objective; a simple trick by a name if they understood.

2. Verbal feedback can be given to pupils as you walk around the classroom and advise on handwriting and the joins.

3. Pupils can mark one another’s pieces of work against the learning objective and the outcome can be fed back to the class from a sample of pupils.


Oh, and make sure that you try and mark in school. Getting into the classroom early, making yourself a coffee or tea and putting on your favourite ‘working’ music will set the scene.

Give yourself at least 60 minutes to mark 30 books and remember that the impact of completing the marking that you will have on your pupils learning and their well-being is huge!


About our Community Expert


Jane Wood-Chambers
Editorial Advisory Board Lead

Over 27 years of educational experiences in a number of settings. Developed a clear vision and ethos for inclusion which puts the child at the centre and a clear understanding of how to support, engage and nurture the individual.

Ability to train all staff through effective and reflective continual professional development in behavioural management techniques that begin, establish and maintain change in all.

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