Marking, Feedback and “Closing the Gap” Policy
This month has seen the launch of the new Marking, Feedback and “Closing the Gap” policy at our school. Our feedback policy has been due to be updated since Estyn (in a very positive inspection) noted that the consistency of written feedback needed to be, well, more consistent. Creating a new policy has been high on the school’s agenda but I have always had my concerns as to whether a consistent, whole school approach to marking was possible or even desirable across a range of subjects where marking would look so different. Reading this blog by Tom Sherrington (@headguruteacher) was a turning point in realising what sort of whole school policy we should be developing. In the blog, Tom describes the “closing the gap policy” : I thought this was fantastic. When you think about it, it does seem obvious that the whole purpose of formative assessment (in terms of marking books) is to identify “learning gaps”, give feedback to the pupils and then (crucially) for the pupils to act on the feedback to close the gap. This idea, along with evidence of why feedback matters, is articulated in this excellent blog by @shaun_allison. There is no single and correct way to give “closing the gap” feedback and it will probably look very different in subjects as diverse as ICT, History and Maths, However, even if the feedback looks very different in each subject area, if we can give feedback which pupils act on to close the gap, we have our consistency. More than that, we will improve the knowledge/skills/performance of our pupils which is, of course the whole point. The working party put the finishing touches to the policy and it was launched in January of this year. The challenge for HODs is to develop their own “closing the gap” policy which works for the students in their subject. This will then be launched in September with an INSET morning later in the year booked in for departments to share their “closing the gap” strategies and better share best practice in their area. The policy is nothing more than a set of principles. Deparatments need to tweak/change their marking policy so it adheres to the principles. The golden thread is this idea of “closing the gap”. This is our policy in its entirety (although the Literacy marking appendix section is not included as we are working on a cluster wide set of symbols): So there it is. The academic year of 2015-16 promises to be an exciting time at school as we develop and refine the principle of closing the gap. The aim is that acting on feedback becomes the absolute norm for all of our students in every subject. If you would like to download the document click here. My headteacher is very pleased with the finished article and if all teachers in all departments can get our pupils to “close the gap” this can only help to raise standards. One possible bone of contention is that closing the gap by pupils requires some curriculum time. Time, like any resource is finite. It is not always easy to find this time for pupils to close the gap. However, what is the alternative? The alternative is that we mark books, we identify misconceptions and learning gaps, but then we just plough on regardless. This is clearly nonsensical. When I asked my headteacher if I could share this resource he told me that we are always happy to share at Penyrheol and besides, most of the ideas have come from other people…………(very funny and very true) On that note, these are just some of the blogs that helped shape this policy and are ideal further reading: Fast Feedback by @dan_brinton Feedback Matters by @shaun_allison Adventures with Gallery Critique by @atharby Feedback on Feedback by @ewenfields Can I be that little bit better at…..making feedback stick? by @davidfawcett27 Have we got Feedback backwards? by @HuntingEnglish RAG to clean up marking and Giving summative tests formative impact by @ListerKev Closing the gap marking – twilight CPD by @chrishildrew More on marking by @MaryMyatt What if feedback wasn’t all it is cracked up to be? by @Andyphilipday Abandonment and enhancement-assessment and expected learning gains by @LeadingLearner Taking a look at books by @TeacherToolkit (where I will certainly be “borrowing” some monitoring ideas) Feedback Archives by @LearningSpy Has anyone tried a “dot round”? by @Doug_Lemov (and TLAC2 is a must buy btw) Moving from marking to feedback by @HFletcherWood Back to Marking by @ChrisChivers2 As always, feedback is welcome (and of course I will aim to act on the feedback).
Post publish edit: Preflight Checklist credit @dan_brinton and the 2nd Dirt Poster credit @anacastillo333
Further Reading update: here is the Whole School Feedback Policy from Huntington School shared by @HuntingEnglish.