Flash (Fast Logical Aspirational Student Help) Marking is a school-developed approach, from Meols Cop Research School in Southport.
In FLASH Marking, teachers give skills-based feedback rather than grades in KS4 English. Skills required to access the top band of GCSE English and English Literature performance are translated into short codes that teachers use when marking work. These codes are also used in lessons to teach the skills and for teachers to track strengths and weaknesses across their classes and by students to make peer- and self-marking faster, focused and more useful. The intervention was designed to improve attainment in Key Stage 4 English Language and Literature and to reduce workload (particularly from marking) for teachers.
Although a growing body of research has pointed to the value of providing students with high-quality formative feedback to improve progress and attainment, there is still a lack of research evidence on the most effective approaches and methods that school leaders and teachers might choose to employ.
Some studies have linked teacher workload (and specifically associated issues of marking/feedback) with negative impacts on teacher satisfaction and retention: as a result, there has been a growing interest in finding more efficient and effective methods for providing high-quality feedback which can still promote pupil learning.
The FLASH Marking intervention was developed by school leaders at the Meols Cop Research School in 2015 – 16. After some success in the EEF Research School setting and initial piloting with local schools to test the implementation of the approach, an efficacy trial was planned. This was designed to be one of the largest trials of feedback approaches in schools conducted in the UK, aiming to examine the impact of FLASH on pupil attainment at the end of year 11 and on teacher workload. However, the 2020 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the cancellation of GCSE examinations in 2020 meant that it was not possible to undertake the trial as planned and estimate the impact of FLASH Marking on English Language and Literature attainment.
The implementation and process evaluation activities undertaken show that the intervention was viewed largely positively by teachers responding, who reported that the training was helpful, it had reduced their marketing workload and they believed it to have benefitted pupils.
However, the wider effect of the pandemic meant that the post-intervention teacher survey response was far lower than would normally be expected and therefore these findings are based on a smaller sample.
The EEF has no current plans for a further trial of FLASH Marking.