By Dr. Helen Wright MA OXON. EDD, PGCE.
Chair of the Advisory Board at Mark My Papers
18th August 2019
The start of a new academic year brings a flurry of emotions for teachers, young and old – excitement, dread, optimism, renewed commitment to making a difference … all of these, bundled in a bubbling maelstrom which at its best can feel like riding the crest of a giant wave. At the heart of every teacher’s consciousness, however, sits the determination that this will be the year when they manage to balance every demand on their time and energy, and to be their very best selves, able to serve to their greatest capacity.
Come two months into term, however, and the task becomes all that much harder, what with the accumulated tiredness from the intense emotional demands of helping to shape and guide the lives of hundreds of students, plate juggling, and then – wham! – the pressure of report-writing and examinations. Somehow these tasks are just assumed or expected of teachers, although now, with a greater understanding of the danger of overload, more and more emphasis has been given in recent years (theoretically, at least), to reducing teacher workloads: a gradual move to replace teachers with external invigilators, for example, and (in some schools) innovative approaches to communication with parents re reports. All of these moves (and others) are designed to help teachers do what they are actually employed to do, ie focus on their students and guide their learning.
Using a trusted external network of trained examiners to support teachers is a natural extension of this approach – as schools across the U.K. and in other parts of the world have been finding out. Why expect a teacher to spend hours marking past papers, when these can be easily and cost-effectively outsourced to people who are expert in the task, enjoy doing it, can turn it around in a few days, and will give detailed and helpful feedback? And, moreover, because the entire process is anonymised, are free of the bias that comes with knowing specific schools and their individual students? I have been won over by what Mark My Papers does in this respect, and this is one of the main reasons that I have become such an advocate for its work.
Building the relationship between Mark My Papers and schools has led to multiple positive spinoffs for schools, a growing number of whom are using MMP for departmental training, moderation to support grade improvement, and accurate grade predication – all bringing the expertise of qualified and respected examiners directly into the school in a really efficient way. Above all, this supports teachers in their quest to do the very, very best they can for their students. A goal absolutely worth supporting.