How much does your school spend on marking?

I have yet to meet a single head or senior teacher who can answer this off the top of their heads, but it is easy to work out using government-published figures.
  1. Teachers work 55.7 hours/week total1, and spend 9.4 hours/week marking2. That’s 17%.
  2. The average teacher salary is £28,9513, but we have to add the employer’s NI contribution of 13.8% to give an employer cost of £32,946, ignoring all overheads.
  3. 17% of £32,946 of is £5,601. That’s what we spend on marking per teacher, per year.
  4. The average secondary school employs 654 qualified teachers, so the total cost per school is £364,053.
I’ll repeat that. The average state secondary school spends well over a third of a Continue reading

GCSE Exam Practice modules coming this September

Exam results

This September, we intend to launch a new series of professionally written and edited online practice GCSE exams, entirely auto-marked.

The aim will be to raise GCSE results by at least one grade level for students who practice regularly.

Planned features:

  • All GCSE question types, including multiple choice, short-text and long-text
  • Exam-timed questions
  • Instant, automatic marking
  • Formative feedback
  • Student motivation features
  • Select questions by keyword, topic and difficulty

There is a huge pile of work to do between now and then. New software modules to be written – some of them using advanced AI. A whole authoring and editing process has to be created and populated with talented individuals. But there is nothing we’ve not done before. What this project does is for the first time pull together skills we have developed over the last 25 years into a single, amazing, product.

I’m excited!

This one accounting small change could save every teacher 8 hours per week

Here is a fairly typical budget for a smallish 5-teacher department in a mid-sized secondary school:

There is a third item that is usually accounted separately, cost of cover staff. If the average teacher is off for 1 week per year – whether for illness, external training or other reasons, they are covered by a supply teacher costing the school around £200/day.

  • £200 * 5 teachers * 5 days per year = £5,000/year.

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Cover staff are notoriously Continue reading

Timed questions help students get in ‘flow’

It all started one warm Friday afternoon about 12 years ago. I was observing a Y10 class in a fairly typical mainstream secondary school. They were taking a test using Paperless School, a now-defunct system that I had designed.

One pair of boys particularly caught my attention. They were lolling back in their chairs, chatting about snooker and doing their absolute adolescent damnedest to project a “too cool for school” attitude. Once in a while they would click on an answer on the screen so they could lay some vague claim to still being working.

Engaged with the task they were not.

Realisation slowly dawned that, as system designer, this was my fault. I had to take responsibility for Continue reading

February 2017 authoring online CPD

Author
Practicalities

  • Starts Monday 27th February
  • Completely online
  • 15 minutes per day, every day for 2 weeks
  • Choose your own time of day
  • CPD certificates will be issued on successful completion
  • To apply, take the pre-test, which is open now.

The course runs through a student account on Yacapaca, which you can sign up for at the end of this post. It uses some features you will be familiar with, and some that are not available to general users.

Philosophy

Unsurprisingly, I teach using the same philosophy I embedded into Yacapaca. Learning is your responsibility; my job is to provide the structure. In this case that includes pointers to useful content, collaborative activities and Continue reading

A very short primer on gamification

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Yacapaca is a gamified formative assessment system. I want to discuss briefly what that means, and how we interpret it in software.

Gamification is the art of making things you want to do anyway more fun, and more motivating. To understand why this is so powerful, I recommend this 12-minute TED talk by Seth Priebatsch because it is a lot more fun and motivating than the Continue reading