Advice on marking

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02 November 2016
Marking is time-consuming but important. It's an integral part of the teaching process and should benefit the pupils.

Marking isn't the only way of evaluating pupil's work, but it is a very visible mechanism. You can find out more about best marking practices here.


  • When you give work back, give the pupils a few minutes to look over your comments and ask you if there is anything they don't understand. You can make your marking helpful and encouraging with the following points.
  • If a piece of writing is riddled with errors, try to find an opportunity to take the pupil aside and ask them to read it to you. Write a few of the sentences out underneath for the child to see the correct version. It's clearer and not so deflating as masses of correction marks.
  • Spelling corrections arise out of writing activities. Pupils with learning difficulties can only manage one at a time, and dyslexic pupils can manage one or two per week but for other pupils propose a few per piece.
  • You don't need to correct every error. If there are only a few errors per page, mark them all. In others, mark several of the most obvious ones on each page.
  • At the end of a writing lesson, give pupils time to confer with each other in pairs to look at each other's work and help each other to find their own and each other's mistakes.
  • Write positive comments to encourage pupils to correct their weaknesses, for example 'I like your ideas and choice of vocabulary, but please concentrate on keeping it neat as well,' not 'This handwriting is dreadful'.

A few points to relieve the strain

  • Use stickers and stampers with words like 'excellent', 'terrific', 'super work'.
  • Where possible, mark in class with pupils marking their own or another's books, then you just have to collect and check them.
  • While the pupils are working, pick their books up one at a time and mark what they have done. This saves you time, and enables you to point out mistakes to pupils as they go along.
  • Collect books open at the right page.
  • Try to mark at the most time-economic point in the day.