Do I have to write learning outcomes for all of my lessons?

What do you think about your own learning-outcome writing? It’s fascinating to hear the range of teachers’ responses to this question. Too often, I hear: ‘I usually write those once I know what I’m going to do’. There’s good and bad in this answer.

The ‘good’ is that this teacher probably knows their subject very well and doesn’t feel the need to spend much, if any, time on lesson planning. We need this level of vocational expertise in FE! But if we look a little closer, they’re also saying: ‘This is what I’m going to ‘do’ for 2 hours’. But that isn’t education.

There are two words I use so often that an observer might say I’m evangelical about them. These two words can be used to precis the whole of pedagogy, the whole of our FE & Skills system, indeed, the whole of education. These two words are: ‘stuff’ and ‘difference’. There’s the ‘stuff’ we do, and the ‘difference’ we make. But which is most important?

And which do most quality systems seem to focus on?

So when a vocational expert goes into a lesson without a lesson plan – a plan that has been created explicitly to achieve specific ‘differences’ – there’s a very strong chance they’re going in to just do a load of ‘stuff’. Those learners who could probably learn most of the stuff without us may still do very well in these types of lessons, but time and again, we see lessons that keep learners busy, but do not result in every learner being positively ‘different’ by the end.

But the training session ‘Learning Outcomes for Independent Learning’ isn’t just about the art of writing catalytic outcomes – outcomes that will change what we will do to achieve them – it’s about a revolution in FE and Skills. Big words, but please hear me out.

Think of the best learner you’ve ever had in one of your classes. I don’t mean someone who was gifted with your subject, I mean someone who was just really good at learning. Why? Why are they so good at learning? What is it about them? Now look through your last month’s lesson plans for any learning outcome written specifically to develop the expert-learning traits you prize most highly. Did you find any? That’s the revolution. Just imagine what might happen if you wrote at least one learning outcome for every lesson that proactively developed the expert learner…

And that’s what this Friday’s training session is about: ‘Learning Outcomes for Independent Learning’. Here are a few comments from previous delegates to give a hint of how attendees might be ‘different’ as a result:

  • ‘I found this training really helpful. I found the colour coding of the elements of the objectives has really helped me to develop my sessions better. It has already helped me to improve how I structure my planning, through using the objectives as my staring point.’ Barnsley Adult Skills & Community Learning
  • ‘A cauldron bubbling with ideas and possibilities.’ Coleg Cambria
  • ‘You know when you know you’re going to a wedding/other gathering where there is going to be a lot of extended family and you just think ‘Christ, this is going to be a painful few hours’ and then you get there and the ones you’re worried about being there aren’t there and you end up having a good time, make some new friends etc. It felt like that.’ Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies

Full details and booking information can be found here: You’ll even find a quiz at the top of that page so you can check your thinking beforehand.

Do join us if you can at 13:00 on Friday November 12th in Zoomland and do please share this post, or tag people in the comments who might find this session valuable.

Best wishes



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