Project GOAL

This website presents the project GOAL evaluation results. GOAL stands for Guidance and Orientation for Adult Learners. It is an Erasmus+ funded project that sought to develop new models or expand existing models of guidance and orientation for low-educated adults in six countries: Belgium (Flanders), Czech Republic, Iceland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Slovenia. Project GOAL ran from February 2015 to January 2018, and was coordinated by the Flemish Government’s Department of Education and Training. The evaluation was carried out by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) in partnership with local evaluation teams in each country. Details about the project set-up and implementation can be found on the project website.

Key Findings

guidance tools

Most countries had a range of pre-existing tools to draw on when developing the counselling instruments that would work best with clients in their target groups. Very few challenges were reported by the teams in any of the stages that occurred when optimising the tools: successful mapping exercises were carried out; the relevant tools were adapted and applied in the field; and counsellors were able to acquire the skills they needed to use the tools to the best effect.

Where teams did encounter challenges, these were primarily related to the complexities of working with the vulnerable and hard-to-reach cohorts targeted by GOAL. Working successfully with immigrants for example, may require programme staff to have access to quality translation services. Collecting data from clients with low levels of education can be a complex process. Although the process of collecting monitoring data, and other data, from clients, was generally successful, and indeed was ultimately felt to have enhanced rather than detracted from the work of the counsellor, there were some barriers to integrating work on the GOAL project with the existing processes in some organisations. A clear example of this is the challenges the team from the Netherlands experienced in getting organisations to commit to using the Literacy Screener.

Overall the six programme teams were successful in their aims of developing and using tools to improve the quality of guidance. Seven themes emerge from the national findings on this process:

  1. Not every tool is right for every counsellor with every client: effective use of tools involves the selection of the right tool for the individual client-counsellor relationship.
  2. The process of collecting monitoring data on clients can serve as an effective tool for structuring and developing counselling sessions.
  3. No strong need to develop counselling tools from scratch emerges: it is feasible to develop effective tools for the target group from existing resources.
  4. Selecting which existing tools are best suited to the target group starts with a mapping exercise which at its most rigorous will involve close evaluation by experienced counselling staff.
  5. The range of tools included in the mapping exercise, and the range of expertise involved in their development, is broadened and enhanced where collaborative working practices such as method groups are employed, with consultation across a number of policy and geographic areas.
  6. The use of social media can be a powerful tool, enabling more frequent, informal contact between the counsellor and client, with the aim of keeping the client active in the counselling process.
  7. The definition of counselling tools should include tools such as manuals and flowcharts that support the work of the counsellor.

What emerges strongly from the national findings is that: a) counsellors require a toolkit of resources to support counselling, and this toolkit needs to contain instruments that support every stage of the counselling journey; b) from this toolkit, what clients need is a bespoke service with the tools that best serve their individual needs selected by a counsellor whose competences mean they have the knowledge, expertise, and sensitivity to choose and to use the tools. For the target group it is especially important that: a) the range of tools include those that are able to uncover the psychological factors that underpin the client’s situation; b) that the tools enable the client to be an active participant in the guidance process.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A COUNSELLOR

Iceland
Iceland

"GOAL interview: a client came to discuss a program for validation of employability skills, in which she is going to participate."

"In-house discussions with other counsellors and project managers on an unexpected issue with a student. We tried to solve the issue together. We had to contact another school."

Lithuania
Lithuania

“Presentation for unemployed people about possibilities to get involved into the Goal project and get free of charge orientation and guidance.”

“Orientation and guidance of adult people. 2 clients are consulted: they are unemployed and have plans for learning a new profession in order to find a job.“

Netherlands
Netherlands

“The prison population and educational needs of the detainees are far from homogeneous.”

 “Usually, there are 6 to 8 detainees at a time, each with an individual program. I guide them. The guidance can be focused on basic education, vocational education or specific courses detainees are taking at that time”

Slovenia
Slovenia

"Working with clients gives me energy and brings me joy, because between individual sessions I can see progress, changes, new beliefs, enrolment in education programmes and I can build good relationships with my clients."

 

"The feeling that I do a lot of good for my clients is priceless."

Czech Republic
Czech Republic

“At the start of every session, counsellors try to gather information about the client, his or her position within the family and wider friendship circles, and his or her health. They also explore the client’s feelings, ideas and motivation.”

“Based on the client’s answers, the counsellor selects ways to proceed in order to meet the client’s needs and goals.”

Flanders
Flanders

"All information, agreements made and steps taken during sessions are written down in the registration system"

“Even the names of persons clients have been talking about are registered in order to remember the whole communication line and, more importantly, to avoid them having to say things twice. It creates a sense of trust with our clients.”

TESTIMONIALS

from clients, counsellors and stakeholders

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