Debate: Setting targets

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By John Coe is General Secretary of the National Association for Primary Education

Setting targets – is it for the children or school performance? It’s make your mind up time for the Government

John Coe

The teachers had worked hard to assess their children. Every facet of their lives had been taken into account. There had been intense discussion and at times differences of professional opinion, but in the end the assessments and targets for the future were agreed and sent to the local authority. Then came a shock. The authority returned the targets to the school; having raised them without any consultation. The targets the school had set were too low.

This is a school where the view of children embodied in The Children’s Plan is strongly supported: ‘Every child is unique and will benefit most from an approach tailored to their needs. That approach will take into account children’s different rates of progress and their different backgrounds and life experiences’ (Chapter 3 paragraph 3.34). The teachers had carried this out to the letter, yet back came the targets, considered to be insufficiently challenging and out of line with the authority’s own targets.

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