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A Guide for Parents about Teaching and Learning at Culcheth High School

At Culcheth High School, we make a clear distinction between marking and feedback.

Marking happens when a student has completed a piece of work. It happens at a set point and its purpose is to check that the work has been completed correctly. Marked work helps to identify what a student understands and what is still not secure. It can identify errors and misconceptions.

In every subject, at planned points each year, all students complete Quality Marked Assessments.  These QMAs are marked in detail and students are awarded marks for these pieces of work. QMA marks are tracked over time to monitor progress towards student targets.

In Years 7 – 9, core subjects complete six assessments per year; the number in other subjects depends on the amount of curriculum time.  All assessments are QMAs

In Year 10 all subjects complete six assessments per year. There are 5 QMAs and 1 PPE per subject.

In Year 11 all subjects complete five assessments per year (to reflect the shorter academic year). There are 3 QMAs and 2 PPEs per subject.

QMAs are the main pieces of work that a teacher will “mark” for your child. The QMA programme is a school-wide assessment programme and, where a subject completes six QMAs per year, this equates to a minimum of one piece of quality marked work per half term. At times, some subjects and some teachers may plan to complete additional work beyond this that will be marked. Often this work will be completed and marked, in preparation for the next round of school QMA assessments.


The school uses an agreed set of literacy marking codes to help support students’ literacy development in their work and these will be used more frequently, not just on QMAS. But there is no policy to use literacy codes on all class work.

Between QMAs, lesson by lesson, students receive feedback on their work and learning rather than class work just being marked. This is because feedback has more impact on learning. Marking is done by the teacher, normally after the learning process has been completed. Evidence shows that students focus on the mark awarded more than their teacher’s comments. Whereas, feedback happens in the classroom 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, many different forms and it is most important to recognise that not all feedback strategies can been “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.

The Feedback Policy can be viewed on the school website. In addition to this, each department has its own subject specific policy to illustrate what feedback looks like in their subject.

To help you identify feedback in the learning process, below are some suggestions  about what feedback looks like at Culcheth High School. 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 white boards, 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 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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