Marking is hot – what about KS1?

Blogs and commentary about marking, feedback and Ofsted expectations are swarming the Twitter threads at the moment. Discourse and argument abound with helpful, insightful and erudite posts like these from Mary Myatt, Heather Leatt,Teacher Toolkit and Michael Tidd.

For me the links to marking in primary settings are few and far between, especially in KS1. Tim Taylor has prodded into the depths of primary marking, as well as providing links to many blogs on the subject. Even he makes comment about the lack of lower primary commentary. Why is this? Are there not enough Key Stage 1 bloggers out there? Or are we spending our time doing other things? Does anyone have ways of using DIRT effectively in KS1? Maybe in EYFS and KS1 most schools have it sorted. Certainly in our EYFS the next steps work brilliantly alongside the learning journey process.
Last year, when teaching Year 6, I did some research into the effect that DIRT had on learning behaviour in Upper Key Stage two, and saw some great changes in attitudes from children in only a few short weeks. I took this back to my school and we have implemented DIRT using symbols for responses as a time-saving technique. Primarily, this is used for Maths and Writing. I am still monitoring the effectiveness of this – especially in the children’s responses.
Now I am in Year 1, first time for many years, things are different. DIRT has to be instant, alongside verbal feedback, with the individual child. Improvement and reflection needs to happen straight away so they have the work in mind. We talk, all the time. We share ideas for improvement as they happen, in whole class teaching so they can take it away when they work independently.
I have created a DIRT format, focusing on key areas that are relevant right now for the children.I want to get this right. I want them to have secure understanding of these foundations and then move on to new ones each half term. There are only a few, but they are manageable. For some, inevitably they will be too easy – those will have challenges to fulfil. For some, they may be on these for a longer period, that’s ok too. I’m not doing this for Ofsted, observations or even the rest of the school. This has to work for my children, my cohort – the dialogue must be between the children, the staff and me, all working together to TALK about how we can get better together, and then talk some more. If Ofsted can’t find it, they will have to ask for it, then they will see marking in action.