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Hundreds of schools have banned their teachers from marking in red ink in case it upsets the children. They are scrapping the traditional method of correcting work because they consider it "confrontational" and "threatening".
Pupils increasingly find that the ticks and crosses on their homework are in more soothing shades like green, blue, pink and yellow or even in pencil.
Traditionalists have condemned the ban sweeping classrooms as "absolutely barmy", "politically correct" and "trendy".
They insist that red ink makes it easier for children to spot errors and improve.
The red pen goes back further than most schools, having been developed during the mid-19th century when ammonia-based dyes became available.
But the opposition to using red ink is now a worldwide trend with recent guidelines to schools in Queensland, Australia warning that the colour can damage students psychologically.
There are no set guidelines in this country on marking, and schools are free to formulate their own individual policies.
Crofton Junior School in Orpington, Kent, whose pupils are aged 7 to 11, is among hundreds to have banned red ink.
Its '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. Teachers must be sensitive about writing directly onto pupils' final work."
Head teacher Richard Sammonds said: "Red pen can be quite de-motivating for children.
"It has negative, old school connotations of 'See me' and 'Not good enough'.
"We are no longer producing clerks and bookkeepers. We are trying to provide an education for children coming into the workforce in the 21st century.
"We use highlighter pens in all colours of the rainbow Â apart from red.
"There are pinks, blues, greens and fluorescent yellows. The idea is to raise standards by taking a positive approach.
"We highlight bits that are really good in one colour and use a different colour to mark areas that could be improved."
Hutton Cranswick Community Primary School in Driffield, East Yorkshire also has a ban.
Its 'Marking and Feedback Policy' reads: '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.' Shirley Clarke, an associate of the Institute of Education, said: "Banning red ink is a reaction to years of children having nothing but red over their work and feeling demoralised.
"If since Victorian times, teachers had used blue ink to highlight good work and red for areas of improvement, people probably would not have got so upset about red ink.
"But when children, especially young children, see every single spelling mistake covered in red, they can feel useless and give up." However, she warned that children could soon realise that green is the new red.
She said: "In actual fact, the colour of ink used to mark is irrelevant. It would be equally damaging to keep covering a child's work in green ink, picking up on every mistake.
"It is all about the balance of the marking, pointing to a child's successes as well as where they could improve so that they do take it all on board."
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Banning red ink is absolutely barmy.
"Common sense suggests that children learn by their mistakes and occasionally they need upsetting to teach them to pull their socks up.
"Self-esteem has to be built on genuine achievement, not mollycoddling, which only harms children in the long-run.
"Red ink is the quickest way for pupils to see where they are going wrong and raise standards. "This is politically correct, trendy teaching gone mad. I give teachers who have ditched their red pens nought out of ten. They've failed."
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