I have never liked targets. It perhaps stems from my own days at school when I remember being forced to fill in a record of achievement every term from the age of 10. I just could never think of any targets to set myself. I still struggle now; I don’t do things like New Year’s resolutions and performance management sends shivers down my spine. It’s not that I’m not ambitious because I am; probably far too much, and I have lots of things I’d like to achieve or try my hand at.
Thinking about targets came about from our INSET day last week; our head wants us to develop a whole school approach to target setting that ‘works’. Having spent some time researching it we were presented with an oh-so-uninspiring PowerPoint informing us that all the research on the effect of targets on children’s progress seems pretty sketchy at best but we need to tick the Ofsted boxes so we’re going to do it anyway.
We used to have MUST, SHOULD, COULD targets for each unit of literacy and maths, which were obviously hierarchical. Our head did not like this so it was discussed* and decided that we would set three targets per class for literacy and maths (so as not to increase workload too much), broadly based on each ability group having a different target. I’m not entirely sure how this is any different. The only way I can see that targets have any chance of working is for them to be individual, personal to the needs of each child.
And then there is that fine balance that has to be kept with teaching and learning and how much focus is placed on each child’s target. If you don’t focus on it at all the child is not likely to meet it and then fail, but if you focus on it to much it becomes a detriment to other areas. Children will meet their target but other areas may suffer. It has been suggested that we spend at least one starter per week on them in both subjects.
Obviously, I have quite a negative view of targets, probably because they have never helped me so I don’t really see the point. I would love to know if anyone has cracked it and found something that works and really does have an effect on the children. Then I might be convinced to use them.
*I use that term loosely