Achieving a whole-school marking policy that satisfies students, parents and teachers might just be impossible. Dr Bernard Trafford instead urges a focus on some simple tenets of good feedback...

Feedback. Sometimes it seems as if our lives are ruled by the demand for it. As a school leader you can’t disappoint an applicant for a post, a school place, a prize or almost anything else without being asked for detailed feedback to the disappointed candidate.

Teachers are constantly required to give “useful feedback” on any piece of work they assess, frequently with the exhortation to make sure that their comments are encouraging, too.

It is hard to argue against such expectations. After all, if someone’s homework, competence, classroom performance, candidacy – or anything else into which they have put a modicum of effort – is to be formally assessed, it is arguably only reasonable to assume that they should be told how well they did and why, perhaps, their efforts didn’t come up to scratch.

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