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SMART Outcomes - Annual Reviews

Annual Reviews 

If you haven't already, we would recommend that you first read our One Minute Guide on Annual Reviews.

Click here for the Integrated Assessment Team's Annual Review Session which aims to provide an:

•Understanding of the review process

•Awareness of time scales

•Knowledge of how to complete the New Paperwork

•Provide key dates for the year

You can also watch the session.

SEND Outcomes Guidance

As well as this page, there is also useful information on the CDC website.

What do we mean by ‘goals’ and ‘outcomes’?

  • Goals are what a child/young person (and their family) want to achieve.
  • Outcomes are what they actually achieve.


  • Tony’s goal is to secure a supported internship by the time he leaves college.
  • The outcome will be whether he has started a supported internship by the time he leaves college, we’ll know if he has achieved this.

Goals/outcomes may be to:

  • Maintain a child or young person’s situation (e.g. to continue to live at home), or to
  • Change their situation (e.g. to improve their employment skills)

Goals and outcomes are not:

  • Services (e.g. short breaks)
  • Activities (e.g. going swimming)
  • Outputs (e.g. speech and language therapy session)
  • Resources (e.g. 5 hours of TA support)

Focus on outcomes

An EHC plan should be written in collaboration with, parents, children and young people and the content should be outcomes driven.

A good EHCP will have had the child / young person at the centre, with them and their family fully involved in identifying what is personally important to deliver the outcomes they seek.

Types of outcomes

We define outcomes as being either:

  • Long term – the Preparation for Adulthood outcomes:
    • Good Health
    • Preparing for Employment
    • Independent Living & Housing
    • Friends, Relationships & Community.
Long term outcomes must link with CYP aspirations (The Aspirations Pathway should be used to help inform these outcomes):

- They must have an element of being ‘time bound’ however these are overarching outcomes.

- They must indicate a ‘so that’ or ‘in order to’

  • Medium term – what will be achieved by the child or young person by the end of a particular ‘phase’:
    • Early years
    • Primary (Key Stage (KS)1/KS2)
    • Secondary (KS3/KS4/KS5)
    • Further education.
Medium term outcomes must be an interim step towards a long term outcome usually by the following year.
- Must be SMART

  • Short term (up to a year)
    • Improve attendance 
    • Take up of extra-curricular activities (football, badminton)
    • Increase reading age
    • Improve social network (eg. seeing friends outside of school) 

Short Term outcomes must create steps towards the Medium Term.

- Must be SMART
- Recorded and Reviewed in a My Support Plan (MSP), the MSP template can be found here.

Are Outcomes achieved?

Questions to ask, to check if outcomes have being achieved…

  • What would it give you? (People skills, travel skills etc.)
  • What would it do for you? (More confidence,  independence etc.)
  • What would it make possible for you? (Be able to get a job and travel there alone)

Other questions to ask include:

  • When, where and with whom will you work on this with?
  • How will you know when you have achieved your outcome?
  • To further support achieving the outcome, you could then ask:
  • What barriers are stopping you from reaching your outcome?
  • What (else) could you do instead?

An example:

Four hours of access to a ‘mock flat’ - this is NOT an outcome, but a resource to assist in achieving an outcome.

What would that:
Give you?

  • Time to experience what it is like to live independently in a flat

Do for you?

  • Provide me with an insight to what skills are required to live in a flat
  • Help adults understand with what other skills I require help with

Make possible for you?

  • Independence
  • Move closer to potential job opportunities
  • Feel confident

Outcome: To be able to live in my own flat independently becoming less reliant on my parents/carers.

Writing SMART Goals

Short term SMART goals should underpin long and medium term outcomes.

Goals should define clearly and unambiguously what is to be achieved, how that achievement will be seen or measured, and over what timeframe. Therefore, goals can be defined by the acronym SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound

Goals that are not SMART, means it becomes difficult to tell if they have been achieved or not and the degree of success.


Exactly what is it that you want to achieve?

Is it clear and understandable by all?

Who: Who is involved?

What: What does the child or young person want to achieve?

Where: Identify a location (if appropriate).

When: Establish a time frame.

Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Why: What are the specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the outcome?


What it is you need to do to achieve the goal.

How will the child or young person and/or service provider know when a goal has been achieved?

What evidence could be used to show if the goal has been achieved?

What will be different if the goal is achieved?


This has to be something you can do over time.

Is the goal possible, is it fair, taking into account the current situation?

Are there contributing factors to consider such as additional resources?

What will successful completion look like?


Are they likely to achieve the goal within the timeframe?

Why is this goal important?

What will have changed/improved as a result of the goal being achieved?

What will successful completion look like?

Time bound

If you don’t know how much time you have, you don’t know when to take action.

When should the goal be achieved by?

How often should progress be reviewed?

Have review dates/progress checks been built into the process?


Smart Language

Below are some words/phrases that are commonly used when developing SMART goals, but a lot of the time these are unclear/ambiguous. This is a small break down of how to make them SMART:


10 times more, once more, 25 times more?

Give quantity as a percentage – 15%

or a number – 25


Unless you specify what improvement will look like, it’s a matter of opinion.

State what improvement is expected.  


The standard or level required to do something ‘successfully’ is a matter of opinion, unless it is specified.

Good communication

Can mean different things to different people. Better to specify – written or verbal skills? Feedback, counselling, advice or presentation skills?



Will mean different things to different people – if you don’t want to have a debate about it, record what ‘efficiently’ will look like when the outcome is set.



Is once a year enough?

Be specific!


Aim to

It is difficult to evidence that you have aimed to do something, and your time would be better spent getting something done instead! Also, to aim to do something implies an element of doubt– this is not SMART.



Is a matter of opinion unless clearly stated what this looks like.



Is this really achievable? Use 100% in an outcome very carefully; you should allow for a small margin of human error. Are you setting the child or young person up for failure?



You should be able to define what ‘effective’ looks like.



Can be interpreted in different ways – better to specify within half a term, a term or a year.



Implies finishing something, but used on its own doesn’t give us any information about what is actually required. A completed piece of writing is not the same as a well structured piece of writing.

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Annual Review - FAQs

This document provides answers to some common questions about annual reviews

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The Bradford SEND Local Offer is a free and impartial service provided by Bradford Council. The information contained within the website is available for the purposes of identifying services and provision that are available to children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. This information does not represent a recommendation or an endorsement of a Service or Provider and neither does the Bradford Council or its partners make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the information.

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