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This month’s #blogsync calls for our thoughts on marking. Initially I thought I had nothing to say on this topic but as the month has progressed I’ve changed my mind. So here are my thoughts.

I rarely mark! There, I’ve said it. If I do it’s just to satisfy a work scrutiny for our HT. (Please don’t let her be reading this!) Now before anyone rushes off to report me to Ofsted there is a very good reason for this lack of marking. There is not one single reader or writer in my class. Therefore my marking would have little or no impact on the children.

As you probably know the children in my class are all, in educational terms deemed to be low achievers. In my opinion, due to the amount of effort they need to put in, they are the highest achievers. To give you an example of this, one of my students uses Clicker 6. For those of you who don’t know Clicker 6 is a specialised program for children who struggle to write. When I want him to write his views on a topic I give him a choice of 3 contrasting views. One of my fab TAs programs 3 single cells with a symbol and a word to help him. He has a switch attached to his wheelchair and he selects the required cell by using his head to operate the switch. It may take this young man 30 minutes to scan across the cells and choose his preferred option. This takes tremendous effort from him and gives me and my staff deep joy. After this almighty effort there seems little value in me writing a cursory ‘well done’ on his work. What would be the point in writing his next steps for learning or levelling his work for him? None whatsoever! Therefore I rarely do it.

What we have instead is an online portfolio of work. Photographs are taken of the work, it is levelled and can be used for moderation purposes or for Ofsted. We also have achievement assemblies every Friday and the children receive certificates and trophies for exceptional effort. Postcards are sent home to parents to show how proud we are of their children and this is valued by our families.

All of this is more meaningful to our children than a marking regime which they have no hope of understanding. To see the smile on their faces when they receive a trophy is a sight to behold. Therefore this year, I rarely mark.