How SMART is your target setting?
'The Sheffield College transforms lives by offering outstanding education and training'
(The Sheffield College Vision, 2016)
If we are to transform lives then we must ensure that the learners' experience with The Sheffield College is personalised, challenging and leads to high levels of progress. Target setting is one important tool to support this work.
Target setting is essential for learners for the following reasons:
- Engaging in the process helps them to maintain motivation for achieving their goals
- Progress can be more effectively measured
- Success can be celebrated, praised and rewarded
- Additional support and further actions can be put in place when necessary
- It fully supports a positive engagement approach to behaviour
Targets can (and should) be related to a range of aspects of the learner's personal and professional development.
Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare:
- Attendance and punctuality
- Life skills
- Study skills
- Digital skills and presence
- Health and wellbeing (physical and mental)
- Collaborative working skills
- Other employability skills such as presentation, time management and customer service
- Independent working skills
- Professional behaviour and conduct
- Respectful behaviours and actions
- Awareness of staying safe
- Preparation for next steps
- Engagement in extra-curricular and enrichment activities
Their studies (specific and of high challenge):
- English skills
- Maths skills
- Subject specific skills
- Subject specific personal attributes and behaviours
Targets are generally set at the start of a course, unit or subject but they should be continually reviewed, added to and changed as required throughout the year. This setting and reviewing can often take place in tutorials but for the learner to make real progress then targets should be a central part of their English lessons, maths lessons, core subject lessons and workshops too.
Targets should always have a deadline but these can be of varied length:
- Short-term targets - To be achieved by the end of a lesson, workshop or day. Perhaps to be addressed by the end of a week.
- Medium-term targets - To be achieved in a number of weeks, perhaps a half-term.
- Long-term targets - To be achieved over a term or longer- these are more likely to be achieved if they're broken into smaller short-term targets.
It is essential that learners are involved in the target setting process either through staff developing targets jointly with learners or through learners taking ownership of their targets and consulting with staff for their agreement. There may be some instances where it is necessary for staff to set targets for learners to achieve (often in cases of particularly low engagement in learning for whatever reason).
Targets can be set, not just by teaching staff but support staff, employers, peers, managers and even parents too.
Although targets must be set, students have many choices about how they engage with this process:
- In workshop portfolio
- As part of a paper-based ILP
- On assessment sheets
- Sticky notes
- On a blog
- End of lesson diary
- Classroom display
Wherever targets are held, it is vital that they are regularly reviewed so that levels of progress can be measured.
Start of the year
Encourage learners to set overall targets at the start of the year. Use balloons, stars, kites...
Encourage learners to measure their progress towards achieving a goal- this can be particularly effective during a workshop session.
Making learners targets can be beneficial for some learners as they're reminded what they're working towards.
Start of the year
Good Practice Example- Highbury College
In the case study, this college are seen to be doing the following:
- Strengths and areas for improvement are used as part of assessments and feedback but also during all lessons- ‘What am I good at and what do I need to improve?' is a mantra for all of these learners.
- Targets range from being personal, through long-term career goals to group targets around conduct and behaviour in the early part of the course.
- Confident use of the college VLE means that if a student cannot attend college, they can still access their Personal Learning Plan from home and download resources to complete work.
- During a longer workshop lesson, timelines are drawn-up: learners set initial targets and each hour of the session these are reviewed, changed and added to accordingly.
- No time is wasted: a mantra from staff of ‘not wasting time, not falling behind’ ensures that learners know from the start of their course that it is an expectation that they keep busy in learning, setting and meeting their targets.
- Progress is indicated in their work portfolios through use of sticky markers as a method of visual tracking.