14 Time Saving Tips for Planning and Marking

Many teachers feel like they don’t have a life during term time with the endless amount of planning and marking that has to be done. Here are my favourite time saving tips that I found useful in making the most of my time in school and taking my life back during evenings and weekends. 


1) Create a Template - Create a standard template for sheets that you use a lot, this could be fact files, storyboard templates etc. Have them all saved ready to go so that you only have to briefly edit them no matter what topic they’re being used for.

2) Work Out Answers Ahead of Time – This may add a few extra minutes to your planning but it is so worth doing. You will then be able to mark as you go when in the classroom and can reuse these questions and answers for future classes shortening your future planning.

3) Plan Lessons Accordingly - Depending on what else you have that day or week. If you have two heavy marking lessons in the morning try to work your planning so that in the afternoon there are lighter marking lessons. A group project, art or a practical lesson in the afternoon often brings less marking. Plan your whole week looking into the whole terms modules to see what you can move around to make your life easier whilst also giving the children quality teaching and learning experiences. 

4) Plan a Fast Finishers Box - We have all been there, where the work you have planned to take an hour takes some children 10 minutes. Having to then think on your feet to push them further and manage their behaviour can be quite stressful. Plan a box of activities, these could be phonics or GPS for writing lessons, research questions for humanity lessons or various different questions for maths. Train children to go to these boxes when they are finished. This always worked really well in my classes, most children completed their work as they were eager for a  challenge and it also helps with their behaviour as they are occupied. I used to plan a variety of generic tasks in different boxes to put out for each type of lesson. I’d plan them at the start of term so only 6 times a year, I could then reuse them or slightly adapt them.

5) Planning for the Classroom – Create speech and thought bubbles or boxes for your working walls. Laminate and write things on them in a whiteboard pen, this can be easily rubbed off and then replaced with vocabulary or maths challenges to reflect changing topics. 


1) Manage Your Priorities - I always wanted to mark what I had done that day however it just wasn’t always possible without working until midnight. If you need the books marked for maths by tomorrow but children aren’t doing science until next week, then start with maths. Then if you have time do science then great, but if not do a couple of books and spread them out over the week.

2) Mark the Group - If children work as a group mark the sheet they worked on and then photocopy it rather than having to mark all of them after they are photocopied. 

3) Child Marking – Give out the same pen/ colour you mark with and allow children to mark their own work. This is only suitable for older children as they will need training in how to do this, and it does involve an element of trust. I would often have my TA sit with the group of children that were most likely to amend their answers or I would sit with them. Once you have your groups together, reveal the answers and give them time to mark. Ask the children to leave blank any answers that they got wrong so you can check. This method does depend on your cohort of children, but I found it was always worth a try and usually the children loved being given the responsibility, trust and ownership of their learning.

4) Print Labels, Next Steps and or Challenges – If you know you were looking for children to use an adverbial phrase in a particular piece of writing for example, have some labels printed ready made up that say, ‘can you add an adverbial phrase’. You can then stick these into the books of children who haven’t and avoid rewriting the same thing over and over again. Same for maths, if you have a particular question as a challenge, print it on a label and stick them in all books that apply rather than rewriting them. Check that this is ok in line with your school’s marking policy. If it isn’t then it is always worth mentioning it to SLT as a time saving or wellbeing initiative to lessen the pressure on staff. 

5) Get a Stamp – If you give out house points or a different equivalent for work, get a stamp that says it rather than writing it in each time. This may only save a number of seconds but it all adds up and can help you with the flow of marking.

6) Group the Work – If you have given different tasks to different sets mark the same work first, even if the children are in different classes as then you are not having to stop and think about the work or which work it is. You will become accustomed to the answers and your flow of marking will improve.

7) Mark As You Go - While students are doing their work, you can walk around and mark as they go. This way, you also pick up on the students who are struggling and can offer support.

8) Leave the Books Open - Get the children to stack their exercise books open at the page they've been working on and then fold a tables worth closed together. You can see at a glance which books still need marking, they're in handy to grab sets and it saves time finding the pages. I did this even when I taught year 1!

9) Always Think of Data – Whilst marking or teaching make a note of children who are excelling or are achieving lower in certain topics. At the end of that topic, when it comes doing data or if you are writing reports you will have your list of students and topics to hand without having to remember what happened weeks or often months before. 

The above are just some of the tips that worked for me, it is always best to check with your schools policy to see if you can implement these into your working day. Just because they worked for me they may not work for you, finding your own unique teaching style and way of doing things takes time, however when you find something that works well, share it. 

Do you have any tips for planning or marking? Share them with us by tagging @kentschooljobs on Twitter and @kent-teach on Facebook!

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