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Is time on our side?

As highlighted in recent news articles, there has been plenty of publicity into the work load of teachers and the presence of stress in the profession. Even last month, the BBC suggested that 75% of teacher staff across UK have experienced mental or physical stress. This is an increase from a previous study on the topic. Article to view here:

With this is mind, it drove home one of the aspects of the research that Hannah and I have been asked to partake in on behalf of our school, Swavesey Village College (SVC). The other side of this research project is to enhance the use and quality of dialogue in the classroom. This is something that was identified by students in our Survey monkey as something which they find beneficial. Furthermore, SVC staff identified that verbal marking/feedback is something that they don't do very often. Could this be due to the worry of accountability and evidence?

Hannah and I presented this data to the Senior Leadership Team and shared our ideas about progressing this research forward. We created a ‘working group’ which involves a representative from each department area to try and implement more verbal feedback into their subject areas. Our main concern was that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to verbal feedback would just not apply to every single subject area.

With that in mind, I trialled a verbal feedback session with my Year 11 students who had completed their mocks a week earlier. The verbal feedback session took roughly one and half hours and I was lucky to have a double period with them to complete this in. This gave me approximately three minutes to sit down individually with each student and go through their paper highlighting the positives and negatives. On reflection, I believe that the feedback was beneficial both to myself and the students. It allowed me to compile further evidence on what the students needed to do to further improve and also areas of future revision. The quality of the dialogue felt much richer than if I was talking to a student as I moved around the classroom during a ‘close the gap’ lesson. I looked back over the green pen improvements for this trial class and they had done a fantastic job. Moreover, they had completed their reflection sheet in sufficient detail and awarded themselves a "How to Improve" point (H2i) based off our conversations. Overall, I would say it was a success in terms of having the desired outcomes for the students. However, the main issue was with the time in which it took.

This is a point which Hannah and I have raised in subsequent meetings regarding the research and with our working group. Not only is time a barrier, but keeping a class on task whilst giving out the verbal feedback to a student could also be a potential problem. With this in mind we aim to gather the results in from the working group and see what successes they have had with implementing verbal feedback with their own departments.

Overall, I would say that so far it has been an eye-opening experience in terms of researching student/staff views and implementing the trialling of 100% verbal feedback. Verbal feedback is something that I definitely found myself doing with previous GCSE year groups in after-school revision sessions where time allowed me to go through a paper in 10-20 minutes – not 3! However, this has definitely given us food for thought!

Mark Langton

Geography Department

Swavesey Village College

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