SMART Targets in Education don’t work

It’s been a while since my last post, as if my blogging self has been asleep.

But over the last week or so, like the dimly heard sound of someone knocking on the door early in the morning, I have slowly become aware of something that has, I think, bothered me for a long time: SMART Targets. Or I should say S.M.A.R.T. Targets.

I have a few things to say about them, but today I’ll limit it to this: SMART Targets don’t work because they are targets for the teacher, not the child. Too much of what we do in UK schools is focused on teacher performance and not enough on the performance of students. I have an idea of what SMART Targets for teachers could look like, which I’ll post on a future date. The actual SMART Targets that get set are in fact limiting and distracting.

Limiting because there is so much more to be achieved in education than the words off a spelling list, or some times tables facts, or a grade in a test.

Distracting because they take the teacher’s eye off the big picture they are trying to achieve and get them frantically focusing on the minutiae. This just makes things more frantic in schools (I have a series of posts tagged #franticeducation if you’re interested, but broadly speaking, my contention is that frantic teachers and frantic schools are bad, whereas calm teachers and calm schools are good).