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Marking and Feedback

At Culcheth High School, we make a clear distinction between marking and feedback. We place significantly more emphasis on the importance of feedback rather than marking in promoting high-quality learning for all students at Culcheth High School.


Not all work that students produce requires marking. When work is marked, it may simply be an acknowledgement of the work completed, some errors highlighted to be addressed, or an overall grade to reflect performance on the piece of work.

QMAs (Quality Marked Assessments) are always marked and grades shared with students.


Feedback is more powerful and makes a bigger impact on learning than marking.

It is school policy that every student, in every year group will receive quality written feedback on one ‘Core Task’ in each unit of work they study. The aim of this quality written feedback by the teacher is to move the learning of every student forward or deepen learning further. The feedback given by the teacher should lead to an action being taken by the student, so that they are involved in the process and learning as a consequence.

To parents and carers quality written feedback will look like very detailed marking. Its purpose is to check that the work has been completed correctly and address any misconceptions or errors. This type of quality written feedback will often also show students how to improve their work even further, for example, this could be applying the stages of a mathematical method more accurately, using more complex subject vocabulary or structuring more technical and accurate sentences and paragraphs.

Each year, all departments plan the core tasks for every year group and unit of work, so there is consistency across the teaching groups in school.

In some subjects, the QMA is the task that is most purposeful to receive quality written feedback. Therefore sometimes, the QMA will be the task that receives quality written feedback that students act upon.

However, in other subjects, QMA will only be marked (graded), but the more detailed quality written feedback will happen on tasks that fall between QMAs and focus on either new learning or practising knowledge, understanding and skills ready for the next QMA.

When quality written feedback is given the school uses an agreed set of marking codes to help and support all students to improve their literacy and writing skills. For example, identifying spelling errors, capital letters, paragraphs and grammatical issues to address.

‘All the Other Feedback'

In lessons, between QMAs and Core Tasks, there will be a wide variety of other very regular feedback activities taking place in many other ways.

At Culcheth High School, teachers work hard to embed feedback into the classroom immediately, at the point where it makes the most impact on learning.  This type of feedback will not usually look like ‘teaching marking’ in student books. Evidence shows that the most effective feedback, to improve learning, happens in the classroom as the lesson is taking place and involves the student in the process; it is immediate and is designed to help students make even more progress in their learning.

Feedback can take many different forms and it is most important to recognise that not all feedback strategies can be “seen” by looking in student books. However, over a period of time students and parents should start to see a feedback dialogue building up in a student exercise book or file. For example, you should see some work marked with quality written feedback, you may then see some redrafting or correcting, a sequence of lesson activities that develop the areas of weakness, then a retrieval quiz to review learning or a practice piece of writing. Sometimes teachers will lead whole class feedback by giving students a model answer, or drafting a model answer together on the classroom board to demonstrate the structure, decisions on content or mental process or planning the answer or procedures.

The whole school Feedback Policy can be viewed on the school website. The whole school policy sets out the school's general principles and expectations for feedback. However, departments are given a level of autonomy to then set out what really great feedback looks like in each subject. Different subjects require different feedback approaches. All department policies are also available below, at the bottom of this page.

To help you identify feedback strategies used at Culcheth High School see the list below. However, please note this list is intended for exemplification only and is not a checklist of everything you will see in all books. Individual department practices are detailed on our website.

  • Using mini whiteboards, apps or online quizzes to review learning of everyone in the class quickly to identify misconceptions, uncertainties or errors in learning. This would then be followed up with lesson activities planned to tackle and address this.
  • Teacher marks a code or symbol or annotates a section of work in a lesson to be reviewed. These actions require the student to make the corrections in the lesson themselves.
  • Question and answer activities during the lesson to review current knowledge and understanding.  Discussing the answers to any misconceptions and making notes as a class to record this information.
  • Mini quizzes as a starter or concluding activity. Many teachers will often review and mark these as a class before the end of the lesson. Students sometimes use red or purple pens to show this feedback.
  • Ending a lesson with a “question to try” to see if students can apply the work covered in the lesson. The teacher would not “mark” the class notes completed together, but would focus on checking and providing a comment to the student on how they have got on with the “question to try”. These questions can be differentiated within a lesson depending on ability and understanding of the work.
  • Highlighting or annotating work according to the mark scheme or success criteria for the lesson.
  • A class discussion about the success criteria for a piece of work, for example keywords to use, structure, technique, skills. Students may be asked by the teacher to record the notes from this discussion before they begin the work. Sometimes students will record these feedback discussions in a different coloured pen to stand out from their class notes.
  • Every classroom has access to a visualiser and these can be used to great effect in lessons to model good examples of work, either by the teacher completing a task live to demonstrate or by sharing and discussing student work.
  • Prepared stickers, sheets and activities can enable quick feedback and actions during and after lessons. Then feedback points can be ticked or highlighted in relation to a piece of student work.
  • Verbal and immediate feedback forms a significant and important element of the teaching and learning process in all classrooms. Initial or simple student responses are not simply accepted as correct. Teachers craft questions and prompts to enable students to deepen and length their answers and therefore their understanding within a subject. This feedback is immediate and means
    that student learning moves forward immediately during the lesson.
  • Improvement phase, DIRT (Directed Improvement and Reflection Time) and improvement boxes are phases in a lesson when a student is directed and guided to redrafting, or improving on a piece of work or a section of work. This may be indicated by the teacher using coded marks in the margin or highlighting a section of work. This redrafting may take place in a different colour pen, or in a highlighted box in a specified area of their book.
  • Verbal feedback is given one-to-one or in small groups on how to improve upon a piece of work. This may be via teacher to student, or student to student as part of a wider peer assessment discussion.
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