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RAGS to Riches Thursday Morning Thriller 26th March 2015

At the start of the Spring term a system of RAG marking was introduced across the school with the aim of increasing the speed of marking for the teacher and increasing the levels of engagement with the feedback and reflection upon the feedback from the pupil. We decided to focus just on the use of the RAG colour scheme for simplicity initially.  As a school we have asked that RAG marking is completed once per unit of work as a minimum.

The Thursday Morning Thriller from 26th March is the story of how Meg Sayfoo has found the process of implementing RAG marking from a Business Studies perspective.

Meg introduced her session by sharing feedback that she had received from myself and the Head of Humanities Sunny Gunessee.  In short this was that Meg was marking in great detail, including formative comments, recognising good work with stickers and generally providing an incredibly detailed and rich dialogue to the students, however it was all a bit one sided.  The work that Meg was putting in was not being matched or exceeded by the students,  they were not responding to the very useful feedback that Meg was providing.

This made Meg reflect upon what she wanted from marking:

  • Students to actually identify what they had done well, what needed improving and what wasn’t right at all.
  • A better understanding of the exam board and mark scheme.
  • A greater use of specialist terminology and technical language.
  • Students producing a meaningful response to the provided feedback.

RAg start

The key starting point was to model expectations; high quality responses that were deconstructed to allow students to learn how to perform the process of writing an effective Business Studies response.  Once that modelling was complete the students undertook a diagnostic test that would allow Meg to complete a gap analysis and use RAG marking to address these gaps.  She found that the common problems were students not using the case study to show application; students not developing their arguments and thinking about their significance, or using specialist terminology accurately.  To address this issue Meg took students backwards to help develop their interpretation skills before starting work on the actual written response.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 19.46.07

The next key step was to start to help students understand what RAG marking was; what does each colour mean? To help with this Meg produced a Business specific RAG decoder.

You can download the RAG decoder here: RAG explained

RAG example  Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 19.51.41

It became clear that once students understood the concept of RAG and had their marked work returned they needed some support to be able develop their work further.  To achieve this Meg produced a learning mat that has the key prompts and information needed by a student. As a school we are working hard on making students better at writing like a subject specific expert and this resource is explicitly aimed at supporting this. Meg makes use of this resource in lessons and tests.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 19.56.35

You can download Meg’s Learning mat here: Business Learning Mat

After the RAG marking and student engagement with the feedback Meg makes strong use of DIRT time. As a school we complete this using a green pen but the key thing in the picture below is the student response to the RAG marking that has previously taken place.


The final stage in supporting students to be able to do this is the removal of the support structures.  Meg reported that students made significant improvements in their written responses very quickly.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 20.04.52

Meg asked students for their perspective on this style of marking, their responses are below:

“I feel that RAG has helped me evaluate my work and take that into my exams and earn me top marks and makes me confident in my writing.”

“I believe RAG has been a great help when identifying how to improve my answers, especially 9 markers. After receiving feedback I went up at least a mark every time.”

“I feel that RAG has helped me a lot since Miss has introduced it to us.  I know feel confident when writing my 9 mark question.”

From my perspective (As deputy for T&L) I am very happy to hear this feedback from students as I know that they will pull no punches if they feel that they are undertaking something which has little value to them.  Meg mentioned that now the time taken for her to provide feedback to a class is under an hour when before she was spending about 8 hours per class set of books!  This is another important point for me as it allows more efficient working for teachers, helping to maintain a balance!

Meg summarised her journey like this:

  • Students use the mats in every lesson and every test.
  • They are learning to be more self-reflective and take more ownership over their progress.
  • Students are actively seeking how to watch their marks increase.
  • Students who were achieving 5 or 6 out of nine are now averaging 8 out of nine. On three nine mark questions in one exam that is a whole grade difference,
  • Students that were on the 3 or 4 border are now getting 5 or 6.
  • So another year of this and we are well on our way to success.

If you are interested in finding out more information about RAG marking try using the #RAG123 hashtag on twitter.

You can download Meg’s full presentation here: RAG presentation



4 thoughts on “RAGS to Riches Thursday Morning Thriller 26th March 2015


  1. Pingback: RAG against the machine! | Purple Pedagogy - April 28, 2015

  2. Pingback: What impact will using RAG mats have on the engagement and the focus of Year 11 students (particularly disengaged boys)? | Purple Pedagogy - June 22, 2015

  3. Pingback: Using Solo Taxonomy for Analysis of Performance in PE | Purple Pedagogy - September 6, 2015

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