Hundreds of schools across Britain have decided to ban the use of red ink for marking the papers of pupils as it is considered ‘confrontational’, ‘threatening’ and ‘demoralising’.
The traditional ‘red pen’ highlights the errors, makes them noticable, but this is now considered to be too upsetting and could make children feel useless and just give up trying.
At one school, the Marking and Feedback Policy states:
Marking should be in a different colour or medium from the pupil’s writing but should not dominate. For this reason, red ink is inappropriate.
At another, the Marking Code of Practice states:
Work is generally marked in pen – not red – but on occasion it may be appropriate to indicate errors in pencil so that they may be corrected.
Some believe that the red ink has a negative effect, implying that the work of the pupil on a particular occasion is ‘not good enough’. It obviously wasn’t good enough, otherwise it wouldn’t need correcting, but don’t upset them by telling them that!
One school highlights the bits that are really good in one colour and uses a different colour to mark areas that could be improved. OK, so what about the traumatic effect of only seeing ‘could be improved’ all over your paper?
Don’t tell them off, no such thing as failing, no right or wrong answer, don’t upset them with red ink….what next?