Thursday, 1 April 2010

Peer marking and a policy not to correct spellings.

I try not to use my blog as a soapbox - can you feel the BUT coming here...
I attended my oldest son’s Review Day last week – it’s the new way of doing a Parents Evening. At Parents Evenings my parents had the opportunity to speak to each subject teacher and find out how I was progressing, however for the Review Day Neil had to take a day off work and we got to speak to someone who had never met our son but had been given the task of collecting a list from his form tutor which comprised of a sentence from each subject teacher: it was like playing Chinese whispers, but not as funny.

Teacher: Sam is a bit behind with his English target.
Me: Why?
Teacher: I don’t know. That’s all it says here.
Rinse and repeat...

I was anxious to ask about spelling. Sam’s spelling is atrocious: his history book contains numerous references to the Black Deaf. When I was at school spellings were corrected. At Sam’s school it is ‘school policy not to correct spelling mistakes unless they are made in English’ (the subject English, not the language).

I was also anxious to ask about marking. Sam’s work is almost never marked. The teacher told me about peer marking, the wonderful new way of marking work – the kids mark their friends’ work and vice versa, apparently it’s brilliant and saves the teachers lots of time. My parents are teachers. It’s entirely possible that I will give in one day and get a PGCE too. Saving teachers’ time is a good idea. However, Sam is attempting to revise for his exams right now. The majority of his work has not been seen by his teachers, it has been marked by his mates. When he has got things wrong there are no corrections, no comments, no observations. Some of the answers which are marked incorrectly are correct. How can he revise if he doesn’t know where he has gone wrong and if on some occassions when he appears to have got it wrong, he has actually got it right?

In the week before the Review Day we were informed in a letter from the Headteacher that he was certain that feedback from the event would be even more positive than that of the previous year. Sure enough, we were subesquently told that this was the case. I feel like I’ve taken part in a rigged election. My feedback was negative. None of the parents I have spoken to admit giving positive feedback: I want a recount.

Other things I want:
I want someone to help my son with his spelling.
I want teachers to mark his work.
At Review Days I want to talk to someone who has met him and knows his name.
I want to meet his subject teachers and find out where and how he can improve.
I want him to get homework that doesn’t involve copying things from the internet.
When Sam started school in 2001 I took it for granted that he would get these things. Silly me.


  1. That's ridiculous, I can't believe that! At this rate you may as well not do your PGCE if the kids are qualified enough for the job.

  2. In the interests of fairness and balance I did check out the research (it took self-control not to put research in inverted commas there) about peer marking and it seemed to be very much in favour of it however I have no idea how/why because it doesn't make sense to me.