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 £38,2463, but we have to add the employer’s NI contribution of 13.8% to give an employer cost of £43,524, ignoring all overheads.
  3. 17% of £43,524 of is £7,399. 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 £480,935.
I’ll repeat that. The average state secondary school spends just shy of half a million pounds a year on marking.
  • Is it worth that much?
  • Could it be done more cheaply?
  • What would be a better use of those resources?


  1. Classroom teachers in local authority secondary schools, from the Teachers’ Workloads Diary Survey.
  2. as above.
  3. Compare school and college performance, Workforce and Finance section.
  4. As of Jan 2012 there were 3,268 state-funded mainstream secondary schools in England. There are 3,184,728 secondary pupils and a pupil:teacher ratio of 15:1.  3,184,728/3,268/15=65. It may be more useful to you to quote the number of teachers in your own school, and multiply that by £7,399.

Xiaoice: the revolution just happened

7bab4aadae979479720a71bc699b945eIf you had to put one date on the Industrial Revolution, it would probably be 1776. This was the date when James Watt installed his first Atmospheric Steam Engine; an engine that for the first time did more work than the horses required to feed it with coal.

It changed everything. Industrialisation led to huge increases in personal wealth and opened new possibilities for ordinary people that even kings could not previously have aspired to.

James Watt’s engine came the better part of a century after the first steam engine patent had been issued (to Thomas Savery, in 1698), but looking back, we see this was the inflection point.

In the same vein, I nominate 2014 as the date of the computer revolution. Yes, 2014, just two years ago. Why? Because Continue reading

My letter to the new Education Minister

Nicky MorganDear Nicky Morgan

May I add my voice to the many congratulating you on your promotion to Education Minister.

I would like to draw your attention to an unfortunate, and probably unintended, consequence of the disapplication of National Curriculum Levels by your predecessor.

The NC Levels are a national system of criterion referencing that gives English education a significant strategic advantage. The principles are Continue reading