“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not therefore an act, but a habit.”
Scholar exercise books are a mirror into their habits and their daily experience of school.
- Just as we have sky high standards of behaviour and uniform presentation, so too do we expect exemplary presentation of exercise books.
- The exercise book is a record of learning in each subject. Exercise books must be presently cleanly, such that they can be used for revision at the end of each term.
What you will find in an exercise book:
- Exercise books will include:
- Read now texts and responses.
- Exposition that shows modelling of key skills.
- A record of some deliberate practice activities. Other deliberate practice activities may be completed on mini whiteboards or as speaking tasks.
- Knowledge check tests and scores.
- Checkpoint tasks and refinement activities.
- Daily review activities do not need to be recorded in the exercise book and may be completed on mini whiteboards.
Standards of presentation:
- All exercise books at AGFS will have the below features:
- All work has a date and title, which is underlined with a ruler;
- Handwriting is legible
- 1 line through mistakes
- Correct colours used:
- Black biro pen [no gel pens] = class work
- Blue pen = refinement
- Green pen = peer assessment
- Red pen = teacher feedback
- All refinement is in a yellow, highlighted box.
- No doodling, no loose sheets, no folds in sheets.
- Checkpoint tasks clearly marked in a red box. Refinement tasks are placed in a yellow box.
- Teachers should not mark exercise books if presentation does not meet the above expectations.
- Teachers will instead issue a sanction and scholars will be required to rewrite their work/ fix their presentation before the work is marked.
Support in place to promote excellent presentation:
- In lesson 1 of each term, there will be a specific focus on producing neat, well-presented work. This is the standard scholars will be held to for the rest of the term.
- Scholars will be rewarded with golden tickets for excellent presentation of classwork each time their exercise book is reviewed by their teacher.
- Year 7 scholars will write in pencil throughout September and focus specifically on presentation. Scholars will receive their AGFS pen as part of matriculation.
- After each knowledge check data drop, teachers will be asked to refer any scholars in Year 8-11 whose presentation in their exercise books has fallen below expectations. Scholars may then be asked to write in pencil for a period of time, or be referred to handwriting intervention, or be asked to rewrite sections of their book.
The presentation of scholar work will be monitored discreetly via learning walks and termly book looks.
Marking and feedback standards
‘Marking should serve a single purpose – to advance pupil progress and outcomes. Teachers should be clear about what they are trying to achieve and the best way of achieving it’. (Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking, 2016)
- In the 2016 report from the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group it was noted that written marking has become unnecessarily burdensome for teachers. Recommendations were given for marking to ‘be driven by professional judgement and to be “meaningful, manageable and motivating’ for students (EEF, Marking review, 2016).
- Consistent marking and feedback across our school is important; at AGFS this comes from the high standards our teachers have in regard to progress in lessons, and the direct impact feedback has on our students' outcomes. Practice may vary from department to department, but all departmental policies encompass the six feedback standards as detailed below. These shared expectations of marking and feedback help teachers in our school to be clear about what is required of them, ensuring feedback makes the maximum impact and is meaningful, manageable and motivating.
- Teachers at AGFS do not respond to myths or fads regarding marking and instead embed effective marking strategies; these can vary from subject to subject. Senior leaders, as suggested by the Independent Teacher Workload Review Group, have challenged ‘the false comfort of deep marking’ (Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking, 2016) with an understanding that the time taken to mark does not always correlate with successful pupil outcomes and leads to wasted teacher time. A teacher should only write in a pupil’s book if it is going to impact on progress. (McCabe, DFE, 2018)
Scope of feedback policy:
- Acting on the findings from Independent Teacher Workload Review Group, our policy focuses on giving feedback in lessons using the following methods:
- spoken or written marking
- peer marking
- ‘If the hours spent do not have the commensurate impact on pupil progress: stop it.’ (Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking, 2016)
- Marking and feedback should be motivational for our pupils encouraging them to be independent learners who always seek to improve their work and do their best. Writing in depth comments on student’s work or being universally positive has been proven through research to be ineffective: sometimes oral feedback or challenging comments are more effective and allow for more rapid pupil progress. If the teacher is doing more work than their pupils, this can become a disincentive for pupils to accept challenges and take responsibility for improving their work. (Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking, 2016)
- The aims of marking and feedback at AGFS are therefore to:
- inform pupil progress
- have a positive impact on pupil outcomes
- be a good use of teachers’ time
- Written marking supplements the extensive list of other methods deployed at AGFS to give scholars feedback:
- Group and individual verbal feedback in all lessons
- Preliminary and end of year revision, examination and refinement cycle for all subjects/years
- 6 x progress reports sharing the results of knowledge checks, checkpoint tasks, end of unit assessments and data linked to learning dispositions and key enabling character traits.
- 2 x parents evenings per year
- Weekly and termly target setting activities through the character programme.
- Annual form tutor overview report
- Peer assessment
How scholars receive feedback in lessons:
- Scholars get verbal feedback every lesson, through mini whiteboard activities, teacher monitoring and whole class checking for understanding activities.
- Scholars receive self and peer feedback during review activities.
- Written feedback is received for checkpoint tasks only, which take place according to the sequencing of each curriculum plan.
- Scholars must act on feedback through refinement in blue pen.
- Literacy errors are addressed where appropriate. This does not mean teachers will correct every single spelling error – rather they will address common spelling misconceptions and key terminology in a variety of ways.
- Progress reports are sent each half term.
- Due to the frequency of lessons in music, art, PE and drama in Key Stage 3, checkpoint activities do not take place. Instead, scholars receive formal feedback at the end of each lesson. Scholars will be clear whether their work is below, at or beyond the expected standard and what they need to do to improve. The record of this feedback will be shared in a variety of ways, according to the needs of each of these varied subjects.
Expectations for checkpoint tasks:
- Record of checkpoints
- Must have a red box around them so this is clear.
- Stored in exercise books in time sequence.
- Section A: Knowledge
- Section B: Application of knowledge
- Weighting of knowledge and skills to be decided by each faculty.
- Frequency of checkpoints
- Checkpoints will take place no later than after the 6th lesson. A double, ‘growth’ lesson counts as 1 lesson.
- In subjects that are taught fortnightly at KS3, a marking and feedback activity must have taken place before the end of each half term.
- Monitoring and marking of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG)
- SPAG is checked during intentional monitoring in every lesson and corrected live.
- SPAG is marked and labelled explicitly in each checkpoint.
- Format of feedback in checkpoints
- A percentage score is given for each checkpoint to allow scholars to track their progress over time.
- SPAG errors are identified.
- A clear next step is given through the ‘AGFS whole class feedback’ sheet (see example below).
- Sequence of a typical refinement lesson following a checkpoint
- RN: Scholars review the whole class feedback sheet and reread their work. Scholars add their score to the mastery tracker in their exercise book and set an appropriate next step.
- DR: ‘Quick win’ common misconceptions are reviewed and corrected.
- EXP: Discussion of exemplary work/ review of metacognitive steps in more challenging questions.
- DP1: Scholars independently correct errors.
- DP2: Scholars redraft/ improve a section of their work.
- DP3: Scholars apply the new knowledge or skill in a different context.
Monitoring the quality of feedback and marking:
- The school will monitor the quality of feedback using a range of methods as set out below. Where feedback is of exceptional quality this will be celebrated. Where feedback fails to meet the required standards leaders will address this through line management processes:
- Great Teacher Rubric observations
- Learning walks
- Discussions with students
- Department review of feedback
- Student panel interviews
- Department meetings
- Termly book reviews
- Pupil progress data
- Student/parent surveys
- Conversations with scholars regarding feedback given in their lessons will place a great emphasis on finding out about the quality of feedback rather than looking at one discrete aspect of the feedback policy.
Sample whole class feedback sheet:
Elliott. V, Baird. J, Hopfenbeck. T, Ingram. J, Thompson. I, Usher. N, Zantout. M (2006). A marked improvement? A review of the evidence on written marking. Education Endownment Foundation. University Of Oxford.
Independent Teacher Workload Review Group (2016). Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking.
The Learning Profession (2017). Our Valuable Feedback That Supports Teacher Wellbeing. Available at: https://thelearningprofession.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/on-valuable-feedback-that-supports-teacher-wellbeing/
McGill. R (2017). Mark. Plan. Teach. Bloomsbury Education: London.
OFSTED (2018). School Inspection Handbook, Handbook for inspecting schools in England under section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
OFSTED (2018). OFSTED Inspection: myths. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-inspection-handbook-from-september-2015/ofsted-inspections-mythbusting
Pragmatic Education (2015). Marking is hornet. Available at: https://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/marking-is-a-hornet/
Reading All The Books (2014). Read exercise books. Available at: https://readingallthebooks.com/2014/11/15/reading-exercise-books/
Reading All The Books (2016). Giving Feedback the ‘Michaela’ Way. Available at: https://readingallthebooks.com/2016/03/19/giving-feedback-the-michaela-way/
Thornton (2016). Marking Crib Sheet. Available at: https://mrthorntonteach.com/2016/04/08/marking-crib-sheet/