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 Implications

service quality

The final section of this chapter draws out the main implications in respect of future programme development. In terms of programme development it offers some lessons that may prove helpful to those seeking to establish similar services.

Unlike previous chapters, the current chapter does not include a Policy Implications section: the key influences of policy on service quality are instead discussed in the Conclusions chapter (Section 12.7), as are key policy messages.

Implications for future programme development

The programme-level factors highlighted in this chapter give rise to a number of implications for future programme development. In terms of outreach, partnership development and maintenance is resource intensive, but “reaching in” to other services is likely to provide better access to potential clients than direct outreach does. Guidance services targeted at low-educated adults will not meet those adults’ needs if they only offer “off-the-shelf”, institution-centred counselling approaches. In this process, the provision of information that is tailored to the client’s personal context, challenges, interests and capabilities is essential, as is the appropriate level of support. An aim is to empower clients to set their own objectives and make their own decisions. This provides benefits within the counselling process itself and in other aspects of life.

Quality services are dependent upon a high level of counsellor competence and commitment. Programmes should be structured so that counsellors can develop and improve their competences, ideally through a combination of formalised professional development, informal workplace learning, and access to support materials such as guidance manuals. The collection of client monitoring data can support the counselling process while also providing valuable evidence for monitoring and evaluation purposes. An overabundance of counsellor commitments can have negative impacts on service quality, as can a service model in which staff provide only a few hours of counselling a week because counselling is merely a “bolt-on” to their primary responsibilities.

Counselling models should strike the proper balance between programme resources and clients’ level of need. Programmes that are built around a model where only one guidance session can be offered would do well to target counselling only to those clients who can be expected, because of their higher levels of motivation and clarity of direction, to be able to move forward with after only one session. Programmes focused on higher need clients should be aware that such clients are likely to be resource intensive and may be slow to make measurable gains, particularly in terms of “hard outcomes” such as enrolments in adult education. Programmes that need to demonstrate high level of measurable impact may wish to to focus on easier target groups, i.e. “low-hanging fruit”. However, all counsellors should be aware that the counselling journey sometimes include backward steps alongside forward ones.

On a broader level, one of the strengths of the GOAL pilot was its cross-national nature. Programme coordinators met at regular intervals throughout the pilot to discuss local implementation experiences and findings. These meetings played an important role in encouraging cross-national learning during the life of the pilot. Future programmes would benefit from a similar cross-national model, where feasible.

 

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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