‘Tyrannical’ marking policies are undermining teachers, union claims

“Tyrannical” marking regimes that dictate how often schoolwork should be marked and in what colour pen are “undermining” teachers’ professionalism, a conference has heard.

Delegates at the NASUWT teaching union’s annual conference in Cardiff heard that schools are using fear of Ofsted to impose highly-prescriptive marking policies.

Louis Kavanagh, of the union’s Solihull branch, said the practice was being used to “demotivate students and devalue teachers.”

“It is for the teacher to decide the purpose of marking; they know when marking is and isn’t necessary,” he said.

“Conference should be gravely concerned that in too many schools over-engineered, imposed and impossible marking regimes are being used in support of highly subjective and out-of-context judgements of teachers to unfairly and unscrupulously deny pay progression,” he said.

“We must halt this injustice.”

Richard Skilbeck, of the Dudley branch, claimed teachers were marking work “up to and beyond midnight” because they had used their PPA time.

Susannah Burns, of North East Hampshire, said: “I am a teacher of young people, not a robot. Please trust me to be professional and mark student work with appropriate frequency depth and encouragement that helps me to help my students the most.”

Faye Mylward, also of NE Hants, said “pernickety and patronising marking diktats” were sapping individuality. “What teacher needs to be told to tick or underline?” she asked. “It’s insulting.”

In the recent Workload Challenge launched by the Department for Education, 53 per cent of teachers said excessive marking was contributing to unnecessary and unproductive workload.

Delegates voted unanimously in favour of the motion to ask the union’s executive to consider additional action short of strike action on the issue.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said that while marking and assessment were important elements of a teacher’s work, too many schools were imposing “unproductive and debilitating” regimes.

The union had yet to find a policy justified on educational grounds, she claimed.

“In too many schools we are dealing with poor management practices, often imposed by those who do not teach and therefore have no awareness of the burdens they are inflicting.

“The NASUWT will continue to support members in opposing and rejecting such unacceptable practices.”

Related stories

Ofsted: teachers swamped by marking needed for inspections, heads claim – November 2014

Workload Challenge: teachers tell government how to ease their burden – November 2014

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