Just last week, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph, I joked with fellow parents that teachers would surely soon be banned from marking schoolwork. How, after all, could those traumatic “red ticks and crosses” survive in our “we’re all winners” culture? Well, turns out it’s already happening. According to a survey of 6,250 teachers on the Teacher Tapp app, only 42% feel obliged to mark their pupils’ work – down from 61% in 2018. The decline was particularly sharp among secondary school teachers, from 71% to 41%. The main reasons? Teachers say they’re concerned about “upsetting pupils” – and that correcting work is “too much of a burden”.
What a disgrace. It’s bad enough that these teachers consider a “key part” of their job description “too onerous to bear”. Even worse is the idea that children shouldn’t have their work marked to avoid making them sad. Some teachers insist that verbal feedback is more important, but “when do you find the time to talk to every single child in private about his or her work”? Others are asking pupils to mark their own work or that of their fellow pupils, as if struggling pupils will have their feelings hurt less by a “jeering classmate”. The whole point of school is to prepare children for life – not to mollycoddle them so that when they do emerge into the real world they can’t cope. Life can be hard. The sooner children learn that, the better.