What does an ideal exam schedule look like?

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The death of controlled assessments and GCSE grades led to increased pressure on schools, their leadership, departments and students to pull out all the stops in a terminal examination – in English, four of them!

The days of dishing out past papers a few weeks before Year 11 leave or once in Year 10 at Christmas are over.

Relieving staff of coursework moderation has been replaced by the heavy burden of exam marking three to six times a year.

Many schools have seen the light and are outsourcing marking and have gone so far to publish exam schedules on websites, newsletters and social media channels.

I did lead English across three federated schools in Suffolk for 3 years from 2009 to 2012 and have led English departments since 1996 until becoming freelance in 2015.

I still mark exams for four exam boards and numerous schools though – so I’ve definitely walked the walk, so to speak.

So if a cruel fairy waved a wand and plonked me back in a school of 800 with a department of five tasked with raising attainment, this is what I’d do in terms of assessment calendar.

Year 10

November (just after half term): full set of exams, set in lessons in controlled conditions split into one hour chunks. September onwards would see students being taught about the exam contents and coached in sections.

March (just after half term again, as pupils and staff are exhausted): full set of exams, on a timetabled fortnight with the hall being used.

June: see March.

Year 11

November or December: full schedule of internal exams, in a mock month.

March: see above.

Now this blog post will hardly win the Booker Prize for originality, I know, but it does give some decent guidance (I think) from a classroom veteran and one who doubled results over 5 years in a school in North Lincolnshire.

There is a cost to your school if you go the whole hog and outsource the lot – or you can have a pick n mix approach with your English department.

Outsource English papers only and mark Lit internally, as some do.

What you will have though is consistent, objective marking with a list of useful bullet points for staff, students and school leaders to use.

Better still, that department will smile from being unburdened and your exam results will rise.

Want to know more for the next academic year?

Get in touch today.

Before I’m fully booked up!

Why this new marking venture came about

I’ve blogged repeatedly on my company website about my GCSE Marking service and when I first launched that business and left teaching for good, marking became a good source of both income and satisfaction.

I have a big network of teaching friends and from various exam boards on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as long red pen experience, which made this a logical next step.

Get Pro Copy Ltd is a freelance copywriting service, where I get contacted for marking by many individual schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts.

Read moreWhy this new marking venture came about

Not drowning but waving – from a sea of red pens

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I welcome lighter nights, the clocks going forward, the shutting off of central heating until October (well at least here in Norfolk), but spring and summer for me comes with an added bonus: GCSE English Language exam marking.

I mark all year round for various exam boards, schools, multi-academy trusts and colleges, mainly GCSE English Language and English Literature papers, from September to July, ad infinitum.

Read moreNot drowning but waving – from a sea of red pens

GCSE English Language marking – work smarter

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I’ll come clean now.

I am a marking expert.

That’s not me giving it “the Big I Am.” It’s fact. I marked in 1988 for the NEAB (I think?) and have done ever since, on and off, with internal exams as an English teacher, head of English since 1996 and with exam boards across GCSE and A Level English Language and English Literature for some of my 31 year career.

I’m a master craftsman with a red pen; an artist at interpreting and applying mark schemes; a ninja at giving diagnostic feedback.

Ok, that is me getting carried away – but you catch my drift?

Read moreGCSE English Language marking – work smarter

Raise attainment at GCSE and raise departmental morale

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I am a sucker for punishment, a man with a sad admission: I am embroiled currently and will be, until July, in GCSE English Language and GCSE English Literature marking.

Mock exams and real exams for various exam boards, schools and multi-academy trusts.

I’m good at marking too: I can spot errors, apply a mark scheme consistently and give individual feedback to students and departments about what needs to be improved for those magical level 4 – 9 milestones.

Read moreRaise attainment at GCSE and raise departmental morale