Kate’s group have shared their reflections on marking strategies in this post:

+, -, = (Plus, Minus, Equals)


According to the traditional way of using this method, teachers mark students’ work in relation to a previous piece of work. I have adapted this slightly to allow students to reflect on their own work. In English, and at Key Stage 3, we use the cold/hot method assessment. This means that students complete an assessment with no teaching and, as a result, they are given individual EBIs which will help move their learning forward. After focused teaching, students complete the assessment again. In order to help ensure that students act on their EBIs, I encouraged my year 8 group to consider how they had improved and whether their work was any better. This was something that we discussed at the beginning of the lesson. I found this really useful as students seemed to be actively trying to meet their EBIs and, at the end of the lesson, students were keen to discuss how they had improved- no one wanted to admit that their work was worse (-), or even the same as their previous attempt (=). This is a strategy that I am going to use with all of KS3.


Dot Marking


I have tried dot marking- this has revolutionised my marking time. Instead of a class set taking 1-2 hours, it now only takes me 30-45 minutes. The students are now clearly used to this method of marking and are able to engage fully. I have used up to 5 coloured dots each with a specific EBI and one extension activity for those who have completed all VCOP and LOs to a high enough standard. To develop this further, I am going to use + = – to assess the quality of the TUT.




I have adapted dot marking slightly- I created the coloured sheet and students simply stick them in and complete the relevant task displayed.

The TUT slide can take a bit of time to get right as you want to make sure that there are tasks that will challenge all abilities and allow all students to move on in their learning, but once that’s done it can make marking a much simpler process – as your aim in marking becomes much clearer and much quicker.



Margin Marking

Students find their own mistakes and correct them.


I have tried margin marking with years 7 and 8 and, although they have found it challenging looking for their own errors, I intend to continue using it now and, hopefully, students will become more independent.




I have used margin marking with year 7 and year 10. I agree that it encourages students’ independence. However, I have found that year 7 are more enthusiastic and are more engaged with the process. I do also think that students need to be ‘trained’ to use this effectively.


I have tried margin marking with Key Stage 5. I have found that this has worked really well as TUT has become embedded within their everyday working routine. However, I have needed to exercise my professional judgement when marking some students’ work as they require a bit more support.

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