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Engaging with educational research at the The St Leonards Academy
19 December 2017
Teachers at The St Leonards Academy have analysed research into effective feedback and have drastically reduced the expectation of written comment marking, with positive results for both teachers and pupils.
Led by a group of teachers studying for a Masters in Education at the University of Brighton, through the University of Brighton Academies Trust scholarship scheme, the project has shifted the senior leadership team’s position of certainty regarding best practice for written comment marking. Whereas previously this was imposed and maintained, the new approach encourages teachers to investigate and analyse the impact on pupils.
Chris Dean, Assistant Principal, The St Leonards Academy explains: “With the effectiveness of written comment marking in doubt, our leadership team recognised the opportunity for improvement if teachers could find alternative ways to mark the work of the 200-300 students they may teach in a large school like ours. Our research posed the question, could written-comment marking time be better spent on activities with a higher impact or providing better feedback.”
Teachers in the maths and history departments scrutinised students’ books to assess what types of feedback produced the most improvement and devised their own marking policies. Empowered to share their learning, so that the whole school community benefits, teachers then shared the results at staff meetings and ‘teach and meet’ sessions, which are part of a wider programme of Continuing Professional Development.
Helen Howard, Director of School Improvement, University of Brighton Academies Trust comments: “I am absolutely delighted that this project is delivering improvements for our pupils and tackling workload issues which can have a dramatic impact on our teachers’ well-being. Engaging with educational research in this way is a key part of the Trust’s vision and a tangible example of how our link with the University of Brighton benefits both our pupils and teachers.”
The majority of teachers at The St Leonards Academy are involved in the project which also includes strands looking at: meta-cognition sometimes known as ‘learning to learn’ approaches; surface and deep learning; and collaborative learning.