The boot of my car visibly dips under the weight of 60 exercise books to mark

07 June 2017 | by Lauren Nicholson-Ward


I use a wheeled suitcase to take my marking home every evening. An actual suitcase. I had previously bought a specially designed contraption, but it quickly collapsed under the weight of the paper that had been over-ambitiously crammed into it. As I wheel my trolley down the school corridor, the PE staff make sarcastic remarks about my going on holiday. I can only just lift it into the boot of my car, which visibly dips under the weight of 60 exercise books to mark.

I have a complicated relationship with marking. There is something wonderful about opening a book and realising that a student has produced something far more sophisticated than you had been expecting. There is a simple pleasure in feeling the pride that someone has put into their presentation and a joy in finding little illustrations of a new concept in the margin. Some of the children’s books are beautifully creative, full of colour, with neat rows of perfectly formed letters, symmetrical tables and meticulously labelled diagrams. Others contain illegible scrawl, unexplained fingerprints, incomprehensible sentences and drawings so unintentionally amusing that have me spilling my coffee.

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