Below you’ll find, over the coming weeks, a Top 10 Outstanding Teaching Ideas section with plenty of top tips to make your teaching outstanding – in no particular order!

#10 – Outstanding Objectives

Even though we’re starting at number 10, I’m going to start off with the fundamental starting point for any lesson, let alone an outstanding one. You’ll have plenty of people who are against lesson objectives, saying that they stifle creativity and are too prescriptive etc. etc. Nonsense. How on earth do you expect children to learn anything if you haven’t got a clear idea about what you want them to learn and how you’re going to get them there? They don’t HAVE to be shared with your class at the beginning every time, but at the very least YOU have to know what they are!

Learning objectives and success criteria (SC; coming up later) are the fundamental tools that allow children to engage in their own learning. The learning objective needs to relate to what you want the children to learn and not what activity you’re asking them to do. In a bit more depth, you need to separate the objective from the context of the learning, making sure you focus the objective on the learning you want.

Open and closed learning objectives
Learning objectives tend to be either closed or open. Closed learning objectives tend to be knowledge-based, are either right or wrong, and are achieved in the same way by all children. Some examples:

  •   to be able to use speech marks
  •   to know the days of the week in Russian
  •   to be able to multiply two 2-digit numbers together.

Open learning objectives describe skills for which there will be a difference in quality from one child to the next. Two children could both write an opening to a story, including all the elements you would expect it to have, but there may be a vast difference in the quality of the writing. This second type of objective, obviously, gives you more scope to provide effective, developmental feedback.

Some examples of open learning objectives:

  •   to be able to think of an effective simile
  •   to be able to write a description of a setting for a story.


If you are able to separate the learning objective from the activity and make it clear to the children, then they are able to transfer the skill associated with that objective across all subjects.

Here are some ideas of the different wording you can use depending on what you want the children to learn from the lesson:

  •   know that . . . (knowledge)
  •   develop/be able to . . . (skills)
  •   understand how/why . . . (understanding)
  •   develop/be aware of . . . (attributes and values)
  •   reflect on . . . (metacognition)

So there you have it, some ideas on how to make you learning objectives effective and worthwhile – more about learning objectives in the book ‘How to be an Outstanding Primary School Teacher‘.