Straight from the horses mouth HMI came this advice on marking, feedback and scrutiny.
When carrying out scrutiny of books in relation to marking/feedback.
Do you scrutinise books for compliance or to look for evidence of effectiveness?
Compliance - following the policy - ticking every box. Does it have a learning objective, is it presented well, does it have two stars and a wish? Green pen, red pen, pink for think, green for great, etc etc! Basically, that's not what matters. Its what is effective that matters!
Effectiveness - Does the marking/feedback make a difference to the learning? Does it help the child to move their learning on? Has it impacted over time? E.g. Has the feedback been consistently used to improve work or is the child still making the same mistakes? So, do your teachers provide feedback which has impact on the progress of children's learning? If so, what does that good feedback look like?
Note - if lots of feedback is about quantity of work, presentation or effort there is something wrong with the standards being expected in the class and/or with the activities. Focus needs to be on improving quality of work.
Another focus point for scrutinies should be looking at how the curriculum is structured. Does the evidence in the books show a pattern of building on skills and them skills being developed? Are activities limiting the children? (E.g. boxes for writing).
One very important point an inspector noted was the 'I can't believe they were this level last year' syndrome. This is not acceptable and will not be listened to. If a child is working say at Y3 ARE - the work set for them at the very start of Y4 should be the same. Work should not be easy for them to 'settle' them in. Every day counts and we should not waste them.
The inspectors then reiterated the OFSTED myths that came out recently. We do not ask for a prescribed way of marking.
We do not prescribe how often marking is done.
BUT WE DO WANT TO SEE MARKING AND FEEDBACK THAT HAS IMPACT ON LEARNING AND PROGRESS.
I'm a deputy head in Scarborough, England and love using media and tech to develop writing. I'm also a keen advocate of Learning Without Limits and believe in a games based approach to developing mathematicians.