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Strengthening lesson plans

This session will help teachers deepen their understanding of the relationship between learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria and how these are crucial to ensure pupil progress.


To reflect on the purpose of learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria in ensuring pupil progress.


By the end of this session, participants should be able to use learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria to develop effective learning sequences to scaffold pupils' understanding of fit for purpose and audience.

Introduction (10 minutes)

Start the discussion by asking participants to consider the purpose of learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria. You may like to record these on a flipchart or whiteboard.

As you summarise the discussion, make the following points.

  • Learning objectives in lessons are important because they help secure progress towards the medium- and longer-term objectives. They support planning and help focus the teaching on what pupils need to learn, and they help pupils see the point of individual lessons.
  • Learning outcomes are important because they focus on pupil achievement and help teachers design lessons that enable pupils to do well. As important as clear learning objectives are, it is the clarity of learning outcomes which most helps pupils make good progress in a lesson.
  • Success criteria are the refinement of the learning outcomes: they provide the detail needed to help pupils understand how to evaluate the quality of their work and improve it.

Activity: Exploring learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria (25 minutes)

Give participants Handout 1a: Contexts (PDF-31 KB) Attachments . Ask them to think about what learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria might be suitable for these contexts and how they might express them when talking to pupils.

Model the development of a learning objective, outcome and success criterion by selecting a context and developing a suitable response before asking participants to complete the activity.

Ask participants about how they would explain to their pupils why this activity is important. Why is important as it provides pupils with the reason why they should persevere and provides the bigger picture. Again, use responses to model a suitable answer. Ask participants to complete the second column in Handout 1a for the other contexts. Allow time for completion before taking feedback.

Examples of possible responses are provided in Handout 1b: Responses (PDF-35 KB) Attachments .

Plenary (5 minutes)

Conclude this activity by referring participants to the possible answers in Handout 1b: Responses (PDF-35 KB) Attachments . Make the point that learning objectives, outcomes and success criteria make explicit what we want pupils to learn and therefore enable pupils to make progress.

Clarify your expectations on how this activity will inform their future work.