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Research School Network: What is FLASH marking?

What is FLASH marking?

by Meols Cop Research School
on the

This is a school-developed approach in which teachers give skills-based feedback rather than grades in KS4 English. All of the skills required to access the top band of GCSE English and English Literature performance have been translated into short codes that teachers use when marking work. These codes are also used in lessons to explicitly teach these skills. This approach enables students to develop their metacognitive skills, by taking a proactive role in their learning.


To put it simply, all feedback is written using shorthand codes that correspond logically to specific skills. This approach significantly reduces time spent on marking. Not only does it speed up the marking process but students receive their feedback more quickly – something they seem to love.


Sean Harford, national director for education at Ofsted, has stated: There is remarkably little high-quality, relevant research evidence to suggest that detailed or extensive marking has any significant impact on pupils’ learning.” So why bother doing any, I hear you ask? If we don’t, students will think: why bother if no one is looking? Flash marking enables students to see themselves climbing (sometimes in very small steps) up the ladder of success towards the elusive Grade 9.


I used to get extremely frustrated that I would spend what seemed like an eternity marking books with an array of motivational comments and next steps for students to build on, only to find they were frequently ignored or passed over while they focused solely on the grade/​mark awarded. By adopting a no grades” policy – students in English do not receive any grades/​marks, except for mock examinations – this has been eliminated. Now pupils engage with my comments!


Flash marking enables students to take a proactive role in their learning by regularly revisiting previous targets, embedding improvements in their future assessments and evidencing where they have been met. Consistently using codes in feedback ensures competency and creates more reflective learners that genuinely understand how to improve their work.


The analysis of skills informs future planning and required intervention. This approach not only reduces the amount of time required to mark work and also provides a more diagnostic approach to recording data that should improve planning and intervention.

The trial will start from September 2018 with a focus on year 10 students studying English and English Literature. The trial will run for two years.

For further information, please contact me on info@​flashmarking.​co.​uk

Sarah Cunliffe
Subject Leader for English
Specialist Leader in Education

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