Powerful Peer Assessment by @MissEnglishHead

Note: These are just some examples of how I am tackling the new 2017 Spec. I welcome all feedback including areas that you think I may have missed or got wrong. The aim of this blog is help other like-minded English teachers to tackle this immeasurable beast of 2017 Eng Lit/Lang, not to misguide anyone!

This blog is all about how you can ensure that your students, whichever year they’re in (and, realistically, whichever subject they’re in!), are always focused on every aspect of an effective piece of writing (Lit or Lang). I use tick box peer assessment after all extended pieces of writing so that students can see exactly where they are and what they need to work on. Below, I discuss an English Language example, how to make them and why they are useful. English Literature examples are included at the very bottom.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by MissEnglishHead and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here. 

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I am a strong believer in students, right from year 7 up to year 11, having their eyes on the prize and knowing exactly where their strengths and weaknesses are. However, how do you do that effectively in a climate where everything is changing, where the teacher is still learning what exactly everyone needs to know and workload is ever increasing meaning giving a student an accurate reflection on all of their skills is near impossible? Whilst it is certainly not a panacea, I swear by my method of peer/self-assessment as a way to ensure that all students thrive.


Step 1:

Find out what it is that the students need to be able to do before their exams. If we take 2017 AQA Eng Lang (for example), these are the two main AOs.

writing AOsOne could very easily just display this and explain what it means to students. However, we all know that teenage minds are 20% fluff, 40% daydream about their one true love, 30% hunger, 5% things they shouldn’t be thinking about and only 5% work… if that. Therefore, do we really expect them to not just smile and nod as we dissect these rather abstract AOs for them?

Thus, let’s look deeper into what they need to do. Below are examples of the mark scheme for the highest “Level” (Band in old speak…) but it is easy to see how it differentiates down.

writing mark schemewriting mark scheme 2

Step 2:

Turn the core ingredients of a high level answer into a list of success criteria for a piece of work (we are focusing on 2017, Eng Lang Paper 1, Section B at the moment) and display this in a table with “Yes”, “No” and “Sometimes”/”Not Consistent” at the end.

self assessment card cred

This is an example of a self-assessment card my top set year 9s completed for the specimen question about a train, with a couple of labels demonstrating how the mark scheme trickles down to this. As it is only for year 9, there are extra elements I would add in for a top set year 11. Nonetheless, it is indicative of how I use peer/self-assessment to fully dissect student strengths and weaknesses.

Step 3:

Add in any extra room for comments by students and then set the students free on the exam question/task you have designed. When they are done and you have given them time to proof-read their work, give each student a peer/self assessment card and a different coloured pen (my school’s policy is purple…) and set them free on marking.

Usually, after 1-2 attempts at the very start of the year with me fielding lots of questions and making sure that students take it seriously, students can complete this accurately AND provide effective comments (either to themselves or their peers) without much support from me, across any topic.

filled in peer ass rotated cred

As you can see, this student has many ticks in the “yes” column as it was his final assessment for the module. However, students have said how beneficial they find the cards at any point in their modules as they know exactly what they need to work on.

Step 4:

I then say that they must act on anything they got a “No” or a “Sometimes”/”Not consistent” in by redrafting that paragraph/sentence or looking up spellings for example. This soon trains them to go beyond what they initially thought they could do.

So why does it work and do you find that there are any issues with it?


  • I believe that it works because it gives students so much more detailed feedback than I ever could on so many pieces of work
    • Every piece of extended writing they do is peer or self assessed and then I pick pieces to also mark in depth and give specific improvement tasks on.
  • Moreover, this is a highly effective way to hit Ofsted guidance that there must be evidence of progress in books.
  • Also, it hits marking policies which require students to act on feedback.
  • Furthermore, students go beyond what they ever thought they could do.
    • Once you get past the idea of “Well, I’ve written it once so why do I have to write it again/improve upon it?!”, students start to improve massively because the next time they do a piece of writing they can look back at the clearly pointed out mistakes they made and avoid them from the start.
  • Additionally, it is differentiation to the max as every student has their own tasks to act upon and has incredibly detailed feedback.
  • BONUS: It really engages poorly behaved students as they start to compete over who got the most “Yes” ticks and it is also chunked into small enough piece for them to remain engaged.

Issues to avoid:

  • You must ban comments such as “write more” or “handwriting” and ensure they use the “yes” and “no” ticks to inform comments.
    • I HATED peer/self-assessment before I developed this as it is too easy for students to just write “Good work!” on a rubbish piece or to set themselves targets for next time which they totally ignore.
  • You must give them a suitable amount of time.
    • For a self-assessment card of this size, I would expect it to take a whole lesson to fill in the card and then act upon to a satisfactory standard. I often like to play music and call it a “chilled lesson” so that students believe it is easy when, in actual fact, they are going above and beyond their comfort zone.
  • Do make sure that you wander around the room for quality control.
    • When they are trained in how you would like them to do it, I would argue that it is MORE valuable than you always marking their books as it forces them to think about what the marker wants. However, you must always be monitoring them as:
      • a) All students deserve regular teacher marking
      • b) You will always get 1-2 students who don’t take it seriously…
        • …I often find that these students need a couple of experiences of re-doing it at break to get them back in the spirit of things… 😉

So there we have it…

My beloved peer/self-assessment cards! I use these roughly once a week with most of my classes (across all years) as it trains them to constantly be thinking about just how intricate a high quality piece of work is.

Give it a go and feel free to give me a comment and/or a tweet with any feedback. If it fails miserably for you, I am more than happy to talk through it with you further. I have recently trained the whole school on this and have seen success in Art, Maths, French and our EAL department (featuring some students who can barely read or write!) and they have loved it so, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

More examples of the cards:

peer ass An Farm cred

^An example of 2017 Eng Lit – Animal Farm (Explanations of PETAL/ PEEETTTAAAAL/ PETAETAETAAAAL coming soon in a blog!)

peer ass poetry cred

^An example of 2017 Eng Lit – Poetry

All peer/self-assessment cards are my own. Thanks to AQA for the screenshots of AOs and mark schemes etc.

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