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The importance of feedback

Marking and feedback can have a huge impact on a student's self-esteem and resilience if done in a  manageable and sustainable way. The sole focus should be to further enhance learning so it is very important that written comments should only be used where they are accessible to learners according to age and ability. Well-constructed feedback tasks prompt an effective response from pupils so to improve quality of work or reinforce learning. It should maintain a challenge for individual pupils, yet be easily executed and enable them to move forward.

For example, the challenge within the task may:


  • Refine a teaching point to consolidate or reinforce understanding.

  • Extend understanding to deepen learning or raise to a higher level of thinking

  • Address/explore misconceptions

  • Pick up errors if apparent

  • Address incomplete work and presentation issues

  • Focus a need for practice e.g. times tables, attention to place value, spellings, punctuation, grammar




Why is feedback on extended writing tasks so important?

  • It will improve student confidence and self-esteem

  • It can be used to celebrate and recognise achievement, especially for students who find extended writing difficult

  • It allows for a teacher to provide constructive, accessible feedback on a piece of work

  • It encourages and involves students in the reflection of their current learning

  • It helps to set targets for future learning for the student 

  • It helps with future planning for a teacher

  • It helps students understand the grading process they go through when doing exams




Top tips when giving feedback

  • When giving feedback, make sure you are positive and be specific, accurate and clear.

  • Provide feedback as close to the time of writing as possible. Never delay feedback beyond when it would make a difference to students

  • It should be given sparingly so that it is more meaningful

  • Feedback needs to inform the student what they have done well and what they need to do to improve

  • Make sure it relates to planned learning objectives and success criteria

  • Make sure it can be read clearly and understood

  • Make sure it indicates a next step/improvement in learning



Creating the right culture within a classroom

To build student confidence and resilience when it comes to marking and feedback, the climate in the classroom needs to be one where learners of all abilities believe:

  • It is okay to make mistakes.

  • There’s no need to conceal your difficulties.

  • It is okay to be stuck.

  • It is normal and acceptable to get something wrong.



The five stages of feedback

1: Show success

2. Indicating improvement/ next steps

3. Giving an improvement suggestion (Question, specific task)

4. Making the improvement

5. Checking the improvement 



Stages 1- 3 will be done in line with a school`s policy on marking and feedback. 


Stage 4 - This step is crucial, as students need to be given time to respond to the written prompt, thus enabling them to ‘close the gap’ and improve their work further. Students are unlikely to embed any suggestions for improvement and apply them to later work unless they are given time to respond to the feedback. 


Stage 5 - Another crucial step in the feedback process is when teachers follow up on the marking set and make sure that students have acted on the advice given accordingly. From a teacher`s perspective, they can see that students are making suggested improvements, which should result in progress being made. It also holds students to account by making sure they are applying themselves to the best of their ability. This allows them to become more of an independent learner where they take more ownership for the quality of the work they are producing. 



Self and Peer assessment

There are two good reasons for promoting and developing self-assessment and peer-assessment with your learners:

  • It enables more pupils to receive immediate and good-quality feedback on a more regular basis. This will be in addition to what the teacher does for the class. 

  • It helps students to take more responsibility for their own learning.


For this process to be really effective, students should be taught the skills that will enable them to do this in such a way that their comments take their own learning and that of others forward. To help achieve this,  a teacher should consider how to do spend time modelling good-quality answers and processes as students need to know “what good looks like”.  Teachers need to model “good” for them or, even better, use examples of other learners’ work to show them “what good looks like”.



Examples of how to use dialogue marking more effectively


Low quality: Do question 2 again 

High quality: Can you see a pattern in your previous answers that will help you answer question 2 again so that you improve the quality of your answer?




Low quality: This is wrong

High quality: Why do you think this part of your answer is incorrect? Explain why




Low quality: You need to explain your answer in more detail

High quality: How can you include connectives such as `as a result, therefore, this could lead to` in order to develop your argument in more depth?



Low quality: There is not enough knowledge of `topic x` shown in your answer

High quality: How can you include more facts and figures of `topic x` in your answer to improve the quality. Look at previous answers to help achieve this. 



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