Child-led Target Setting
Effective target setting can make a profound difference to your children’s progress. Quite a bold statement, but one I am confident is correct.
The word effective is the crucial word and the one that makes the profound difference. If you can set targets which are clear, realistic and relevant to the child then they will have a great impact. I will explore in this post a few ways of establishing a target setting culture in your classroom which places the role of setting the targets in the hands of the children – and this works from KS1 to KS4.
I have tried many ways of providing children with targets and monitoring their use. The most effective way is one I set up last year when I undertook an action research project as part of my performance management. What I set out to do was to develop a child-led system for target setting. I felt that if you put the majority of the target setting role in the hands of the children then it would have more of an impact as they would be invested in it.
I started by looking at target setting for writing, as it was the most straightforward subject to set targets in and to track. I researched and made a set of ‘I can…’ statements for every sub-level for writing, from 1c to 5a (made before we found out levels were disappearing). Below is an example of one (click it to view it in more detail):
Each child was given a sheet that related to their end of year target. This, therefore, outlined all the steps their needed to take to achieve that end of year target.
At the start of every lesson each child would choose an appropriate target from the sheet (which was stuck in their book). Some of the time I would tell each child which target to choose, most of the time I would tell them to choose a specific target or one that related to a certain feature (e.g. punctuation, paragraphs, etc). Occasionally I would ask the children to look and choose any target that they think is relevant to today’s work.
After choosing an appropriate target the children would copy their chosen target onto a ‘Next step’ slip of paper, which was then stuck under their date and title.
This whole process looks cumbersome, I’m sure, but actually flows really well. The emphasis of it is to make it clear to the children what they need to achieve during the school year so they can reach their end of year target. It’s up to them to make the strides to achieve this targets and it’s up to them to keep track of what they need to do next.
Having clear and appropriate targets set out from the start of the year helps focus the children and make them aware that they need to work hard and make progress. It also helps when it comes to reviewing each child’s progress. The target sheet shows all the things the child has achieved and/or needs to still do to improve. This helps when you have SLT reviews or parents’ evenings.
I would encourage you to set up a system in your classroom where the children are in control of setting and monitoring their own targets. Obviously with the end of levels as we know them, and a move towards other ways of recording progress, having a system where you can clearly show the children the steps they need to take to improve will be beneficial. I’ve found a system of child-led target setting was a powerful tool and I’m sure you would too.
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