England's Mounts Bay Academy is "a learning community that aspires to success for all without exception," according to the school's principal, Sara Davey.
"All young people are grade A students; it is our job to nurture the very best in each person by removing barriers to learning and identifying every child’s strengths and talents," Davey says.
Davey is unveiling the Cornwall school's new marking system that takes aim at teacher comments on students' work.
Specifically, it bans one troublesome color ink from appearing on paper: red.
From now on, teachers at Mounts Bay will record their written comments and feedback using green ink pens while students will use purple ink with their replies, according to the Cornishman in Cornwall, U.K.
"I think it was felt that red ink was a very negative color," Vice Principal Jennie Hick told the Cornishman.
“Students make more progress if it is a dialogue and the new system is designed to help that," Hick added. "A teacher will make two or three positive comments about a student’s homework and point out perhaps one thing that will take them to the next stage.
“A lot of us in the past have skimmed over the teacher’s comments and just looked for the final overall mark but by asking students to respond with purple pen forces them to read the teacher’s comments and helps them to create a real conversation.”
While Hicks insisted the red-ink ban for the school serving 11- to-16-year-olds is “certainly not about us going all soft and fuzzy" — adding that many primary schools have similarly eschewed the color with positive results — not all education watchers are in favor of the move.
“In my own experience of 35 years in teaching is that children actually prefer teachers to use red ink because they can read comments more easily," Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, told The Cornishman.
“The problem with using a color like green or blue is that it’s not clear," McGovern observed, adding that “ lot of schools seem to have a culture where they don’t like criticizing children but actually this helps them.”