From education to employment

Case study: Reviewing feedback and marking in schools

With Others We Succeed (WOWS) is a school improvement consortium consisting of 18 primary schools in the Wigan West area.

In this group, 15 ran a research project investigating how they could implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Group on Marking.

Project outline

All the participating schools agreed to follow the same project structure:

  1. review of current practice across the WOWS consortium of schools
  2. evaluate current practice against the 3 principles of effective marking identified in the final report of the working group:
    • meaningful
    • manageable
    • motivating
  3. establish features of good marking practice to be trialled in WOWS schools
  4. evaluate the modified approaches to marking against their impact and effectiveness in achieving the 3 principles.

The new approaches varied across the schools, but included activities such as:

  • using marking codes
  • highlighting learning objectives
  • verbal feedback during lesson time
  • peer assessment

Teachers were no longer required to record verbal feedback in children’s books and written feedback was significantly reduced.


  • gains in reduced workload were seen in every school. There was a dramatic reduction in the time spent marking and recording, and an improvement in teacher morale
  • the application of the principles contained in the workload report helped to relieve the burden of marking processes
  • there was no negative impact on pupils as a result of the changes, and some schools reported gains in pupil progress and engagement with the learning process

In all cases, the governing body was kept informed of developments, as were parents and carers. The impact of the strategy on pupils remained the focus of attention, rather than areduction in teacher workload.

By adopting this focus, the schools gained support from their governing bodies, parents and carers.


The Education Endowment Foundation has produced a DIY Evaluation Guide that gives advice on how to evaluate the effectiveness of new interventions or strategies.

The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University has designed an effect size calculator to help with the data analysis.

The schools that carried out the Workload Challenge research projects produced conference-style research posters as a more digestible version of their project reports.

More information

Related Articles