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Strengthening written feedback

This session will help teachers focus on effective written feedback as a crucial element that enables all pupils to make progress. Pupils should have an expectation that the feedback they receive will explain what they have done well, with reasons, and where and how they can improve.


To explore a variety of approaches to support effective written feedback.


By the end of the session participants will have identified the types of written feedback that help pupils to improve.

Introduction (10 minutes)

Introduce the session by asking participants what makes effective written feedback and why it is important. Take some feedback and make the following points.

  • The learning objectives and learning outcomes need to be the reference point for a teacher's written feedback. These need to be shared and made clear to pupils in advance of their attempting the task.
  • Effective feedback depends on the pupils being clear about what is expected of them. Pupils should have an expectation that the feedback they receive will explain what they have done well, with reasons, and where and how they can improve.
  • Pupils should be given written feedback that provides clear evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses, prompts further thought and reasoning and identifies the next steps in their education.
  • To be able to identify the next steps in pupils' education, a teacher needs to have a secure understanding of progression in the subject and be able to recognise pupils' misconceptions and challenges in the context of the subject.

Activity: Written feedback (25 minutes)

Give participants Handout 4: Pupil work (PDF-24 KB) Attachments . The pupil was asked to collect, record and analyse the data from a coffee-shop survey in which customers were asked to rank aspects of service and food on a five-point scale, and to draw conclusions.

What would written feedback look like for this pupil?

Ask participants to:

  • identify the knowledge, skills and understanding that this pupil demonstrates
  • identify the next steps that the pupil needs to make
  • write comments that evaluate their strengths, prompt further thought and identify the next steps in the pupil's education.

You may wish to structure this activity by providing pointers or modelling one of the potential responses.

Encourage participants to see three sets of interrelated issues.

Plenary (5 minutes)

Conclude this activity by making the points that, to be effective, written feedback needs to:

  • be planned as part of the learning sequence
  • be presented at a point where the pupil is able to act on it to make a difference
  • refer back to the learning objectives, learning outcomes and success criteria.

Clarify your expectations on how this activity will inform their future work.