Teachers still using ‘deep-marking’ techniques, despite lack of evidence that it helps pupil learning

Time-consuming ‘triple-impact’ system is used widely, but there is no official requirement to do so, study says

Almost three-quarters of teachers use a time-consuming “deep-marking” technique, despite there being no official requirement to do so, new research reveals.

A review from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) finds a “striking disparity” between the huge amount of effort invested in marking books and the limited evidence showing which strategies have a positive effect on pupils’ progress – especially in the case of extensive written feedback.

The research has been published after a union adviser complained of a “cult of marking” on social media, with teachers boasting about the time they spent going through pupils’ books.

Further evaluation is needed to determine whether any benefits that result from triple-impact marking are “large enough to justify the time required”, the report concludes.

But some degree of “dialogic marking”, either verbal or written, had been shown to have some “promise”, the research finds.

Some schools remain unconvinced that Ofsted will not look for triple-impact marking – also known as deep marking – even though the inspectorate clarified in a “myth-busting” document more than a year ago that it does not require “any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is clear that teachers should not be expected to use deep or triple marking. And teachers should be trusted to focus on what is best for their pupils and circumstances.”


This is an edited version of an article in the April 29 edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available at all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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