Dear Ms Smith,

When I opened Tom’s Maths book this evening to help him with his homework, I was shocked and upset to see that none of his work had been marked for the whole of this term. What is more, his English writing book remains unmarked since the end of September, despite my wife drawing attention to this previously; that is eleven pieces of work he’s been asked to complete by you which you have failed to mark.

Marking of children’s work is a fundamental part of the process of teaching and learning in school. Surely it is your professional responsibility as Tom’s teacher to check his work in order to assess his understanding and to plan for the next steps in his learning. Marking indicates teacher satisfaction and positively reinforces expectations. It indicates strengths and weaknesses and how a child can improve performance. It provides an opportunity to praise achievements, raise self-esteem and identify areas for improvement. It demonstrates the value and respect due to children’s efforts and provides an indication to parents about their child’s progress.

By not checking Tom’s work, you may be inadvertently reinforcing misunderstood concepts or bad work habits. “Children learn from their mistakes” might be a cliché, but it is a true one, provided that their mistakes have been identified and they have been shown how to avoid them next time.

It is also extremely demotivating to a child if they feel their efforts are not being recognised. We worked hard with Tom on his first Maths homework of the year, encouraging him to present his work neatly and to take pride in what he does. We emphasised the importance of using a ruler for straight lines and showed him how to set out his work neatly. We assured him that his teacher would acknowledge the extra effort he’d put in. To us this was part of the parent-teacher-child triangular partnership which is so essential to good learning. It still hasn’t been marked! It was completed on September 8th! That is three whole months ago!

It wouldn’t have taken much to show you appreciated his efforts: a smiley face, a sticker, a positive comment even. Instead there was nothing, not even a big red tick.

It is quite apparent to us that Tom’s standards and motivation, even his self-confidence, have slipped as the term has progressed. We’re talking about a bright, positive child here, one who has always had an enthusiastic attitude to school!

My wife and I feel most let down by this matter. We feel you have seriously neglected one of your basic duties as a teacher and that Tom’s education is suffering as a result. A copy of this letter will be sent to the Headteacher.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Rogers