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. 

Key Findings

Developing and sustaining partnerships and networks

The six GOAL teams succeeded in their objective of building partnerships and networks through which potential clients were identified and referred to counsellors. Partnership working has been multidirectional – upwards towards policymakers and the policy environment, “downwards” towards potential clients, and laterally towards other organisations serving the target groups – and has led to expanded understanding of and interest in GOAL across a range of groups and interests.

As analysed in detail in Chapter 7, countries reached their recruitment targets through referrals, in large measure due to the relationships that were forged with partner organisations who worked with the same target groups and shared similar ambitions; “reaching in” to these organisations was the key to successful outreach. To take Flanders as an example, staff members of the two organisations invested a large amount of time and effort in developing strong collaborations with partner organisations. These partnerships have not only been developed with educational institutions but also with local authorities, labour market actors and important social services. GOAL came to be considered a valuable player in this service landscape, a fact that was reflected in the strong rise of referrals from other organisations. The 2016 year report of de Leerwinkel shows an increase in referrals of 33% in 2016 compared to 2015.

Across countries, the key features of partnerhip success were that:

  • Partnership and networks with organisations from other policy areas gave GOAL staff access to more potential clients than they would ever get from individual adult education institutions, or even the wider adult education system.
  • For the most part, the partnerships and networks strengthened in the GOAL project built on existing relationships rather than starting afresh, meaning that there were established working patterns and a good degree of trust between organisations, even if these agreements were only entered into on an informal basis.
  • Due to the quality of the information exchange, the promotion of the GOAL service, and the time and efforts put in by GOAL staff, “buy-in” was achieved. Although, as explained in this chapter, there had been fears that some partner organisations would view GOAL as a competition to their own work, these fears were largely unfounded and GOAL came to be viewed as both a good thing in its own right and an enhancement to the work of the partner organisations.
  • The high quality of the working relationships during the project produced an ambition from multiple partners to make these partnerships extend beyond the life of the programme.

Teams faced some challenges in the day-to-day operation of the partnerships and networks:

  • Partnerships and networks take time to establish and require intensive work and use of resources to maintain them.
  • In some countries partnerships were characterised by an uneven balance of effort. Some networks experienced passive partners, or partners whose own bureaucratic processes impeded the network’s processes. Not all partners were equal.
  • Not all possible partners were willing to become involved – this was especially a problem with regard to employers. This barrier highlighted issues both about where adult education sits in priorities (especially where there is no policy focus) about separation of like organisations in different silos.

Ultimately, the countries were unsuccessful in their second objective of achieving a formal basis for the partnerships. There were a number of contributing factors to this. Limited finances were a factor, as these impede the ability of GOAL pilot projects to transition into long-term, sustainable services. Finance is in turn influenced by the general lack of policy commitment to education guidance and to adult education in most European countries. Education-focused, client-centred guidance is an under-recognised and under-supported area within a sector (adult education) that is itself under-recognised and under-supported. There are thus numerous hurdles to clear with regard to increased policy support for services such as GOAL – not least the challenge of making other policy areas aware of the potential value of adult education guidance. That being said, this evaluation finds that the GOAL pilot largely succeeded in this task, at least on an organisation by organisation level. The more challenging task is to translate that success into broader policy support and structural embedment. The need for partnerships across a broad range of  organisations is vital to future GOAL-like services.

The adult educational system does not seem to be the most effective way of reaching out to the target group, as this system is not one the target group normally engages with. This highlights the importance of and need for successful collaboration with other services, enabling a cross-organisational referral system. 



"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."


“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.“


“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”


"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.”


"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.”


from clients, counsellors and stakeholders


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