What is the objective behind an objective?!

  • WALT
  • WILF
  • TIB
  • AIMS

What the hell do all of these mean? which one should we use? what is the difference?


These are the questions I found myself asking as I walked around our school. We have amazing staff and the lessons they teach are next-to-none- but to be honest, a lot of approaches to this vital concept were wide-ranging and very different. We need consistency- not for us- but for our kids.

Admittedly, staff were honest enough to share that the difference between lesson objectives and outcomes and the various acronyms used to portray them can be perplexing at the best of times.Therefore it is time to make the record straight.. for Westfield Academy teachers anyway.

Lesson Objective: By the end of the lesson- what knowledge will the pupil have learned? An overview if you will. The most important question when planning your lesson is ‘what do I want them to know at the end of those 6o mins?’ Teaching backwards if you will. A fantastic book on this is by ‘Teaching Backwards’ by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns.


It is imperative that your objective is not placed on a power point slide or resource and never referred to. This should be the starting point of the lesson- an open discussion where learners are engaged and excited about the next learning exploration they are about to endure. The lesson objective should enable challenge for all. This should be visible and drawn back to throughout the lesson.

The Lesson Outcome: Now this is the the breakdown of HOW the pupils will achieve their learning and reach that final destination. Outcomes discuss the skills pupils will use and develop to reach their goal. Think of a mountain climber..his objective is to reach the summit, his outcomes are the skills he will require to reach it- his toolkit, mindset, physicality- the skill building and endurance. The Outcomes should be embedded during the lesson, and must be linked to grades / levels. They should link with the I-A-R cycle and be referenced and reviewed throughout the lesson.

So what skills should they be using and developing within a given lesson?


Bloom’s Taxonomy helps us to understand the skills pupils should be using and developing. Our lessons should gradually build in difficulty and challenge; therefore the starting point should consist of lower order skills, building gradually to higher-order.

Here is a printable resource to help with lesson planning and ensuring you incorporate high order skills within  your lessons.


So, it goes like this:

  • the students enter, they are welcomed and settled by our classroom expectations of meet and greet, waiting at their tables and equipment checks
  • a hook engages, excites, reminds and gives a taste of what is to come
  • objectives are shared, the mountain climb of an achievable challenge, and the stages of how this climb will be done, the outcomes, are explained.
  • stages of the lesson, the Input-Activity-Review cycle will address the skills on this journey, and review them.

And if you want students to write down the Outcomes to support their skills acquisition, reviews, and ultimately the success of their learning, then just do it!

Learning Direction: What would Iggy do?

In ‘Gimme Danger’ Iggy Pop talks about saying it (a song) in 25 words.Simple and to the point. Something to stick in the mind. Not counting repeats, No Fun manages it in 22 words.


This is  what the learning direction is. A clear teacher exposition of where the students will get to by the end of the lesson, of what will be learned by the end of the hour. Once settled in the class, and hook delivered, this is what students need to Big Picture their learning journey.

But this is not the lesson outcomes. Fellow travellers with the learning direction, outcomes break this learning down into activities, stages and mileposts, and as we progress through the stages of Input Activity Review, we need to keep on coming back to them in our Reviews, referencing the journey, with the learning further informed by gradings and Blooms. The outcomes peg the journey for the students, giving that clarity, progression and challenge.

The outcomes  must be challenging for all, informed by our context sheets and knowing the students, and as Dame Sally Coates writes, ‘enabling lessons to enter the sweet spot of uncharted cognitive territory just beyond the students’existing skill level’, on the boundary between boredom and anxiety (Csikszentmihalyi).

So the Direction is informed by James Osterberg, the Outcomes by Csikszentmihalyi.

A good combination I feel.

Westfield Academy: This is us…

We have a short promo about our Academy here in Watford, not to be confused with Yeovil’s Westfield, or the shopping centre.

We pride ourselves on working and learning with colleagues from all backgrounds and experiences,  so if you are interested in a look around or further information with regards teaching and career opportunities just get in touch through this Blog.