Implementation and aims
In Flanders the GOAL-project focused on all 5 intervention strategies which are closely interrelated to provide quality guidance services. These interventions were combined in order to improve the quality of the service on one hand and on the other hand to promote the service amongst relevant stakeholders to reach the target group of low educated adults.
To increase the service quality, the existing service was assessed to identify specific needs in GOAL for the target group of low educated adults. Analysis showed that the quality of the service is very much linked to the approaches, methods and competences of counsellors and the tools that they use. A good overview of these tools and methods was however lacking. To address this gap, all guidance tools that are used in sessions were mapped, and additional guidance tools to support the counsellor were developed. Also the need for a quality assurance framework to assess and monitor the quality of the service and the organisation was identified at de Leerwinkel and consequently a quality plan was developed based on the experiences of the GOAL-project.
Strengths and achievements
Clients, staff members, stakeholders and policy makers agree on characteristics that determine the quality of the service:
De Stap and de Leerwinkel are neutral services that provide independent information and guidance. They do not have any interest in orienting clients towards a particular educational institute or field of study.
The non-mandatory character makes GOAL easy accessible. Clients enter the service out of their own will and are free to exit at any time as no commitments or conditions are linked to participation.
With a customised approach, GOAL contributes to the personal empowerment of vulnerable clients.
The step by step and custom-fit approach reduces the likelihood of clients dropping out of the guidance process.
Counsellors have a comprehensive understanding of the complex domain of education and are able to locate relevant information and make education and information more accessible to clients.
Not only do policy makers and stakeholders acknowledge these traits, clients are also generally satisfied with the provided service.
Quality should not only be measured based on results and outcome, but on all segments and aspects of the service.
Challenges and barriers
Increased referrals lead to higher work load
Improved partnerships and a better functioning network could have a negative impact on quality. If an increase of referrals by these partners, as a result of better collaboration and better visibility of the service, doesn’t go along with a rise in manpower in order to provide the service to more clients, the quality can be at stake. Moreover, the lack of time resulting from the heavy workload counsellors face, leads to limited opportunities to participate in staff training. This might negatively impact quality as counsellors have to keep themselves up to date with a broad range of information linked to different domains.
Thin line between educational counselling and social/psychological counselling
Due to the multi-problem background of many clients, the counsellor needs to find a balance between identifying and solving learning barriers and maintaining professional boundaries. Educational counselling is not social or psychological counselling.
Lack of structural embedment of GOAL service
No long term commitments or structural collaboration strategies are developed as network partners are not sure about the continuity of the service.
Baseline and progress across GOAL’s five intervention strategies
The table below provides a brief evaluative summary of the quality of different aspects of the GOAL programme in Flanders, comparing quality at the start of the evaluation (baseline) and at the end. In this table, we provide numerical ratings for each of the five intervention areas, and an explanation of that rating for each category. These ratings and explanations are provided for the start of the evaluation and the end, with the aim of briefly summarizing key issues and change over time. In addition to provide ratings and commentary for the five core GOAL intervention areas, we also address overall service quality and policy interest/support. The latter is a key factor in determining future programme sustainability.