Implications for future programme development
The neutral and independent character of the service came out as one of the important quality criteria: especially in Flanders, where the educational landscape is very much divided into different educational networks (within the formal system) and additionally providers in the non-formal system are available, it is difficult to get independent advice on the best study options. Advice that is given by providers can be in the interest of the provider. The neutrality of the GOAL service is a strong added value that can be used to convince politicians and policy makers on the necessity of the service.
Other key characteristics that guarantee high quality guidance are:
- the non-mandatory character
- a customised and tailor-fit approach
- a step by step approach
- the focus on personal empowerment
A custom-fit approach is time intensive and requires high interpersonal competences of the counsellors (as mentioned earlier).
In order to achieve the above described quality characteristics for a future guidance service we propose an organisational structure of the service that is based on the principle of a central back-office at Flemish level and locally embedded service points, according to the following model:
Local embedment of a GOAL service that is readily accessible and approachable for the target groups of low educated adults:
Networks should be established, developed and maintained in a way that they optimally support the GOAL service by reaching out to the target groups and systematically lead adults with learning demands and/or needs to the GOAL service. Complementarity to existing services should be clear: the GOAL service distinguishes itself from other services by focusing on learning demands and learning needs. If clients have other demands such as support to get employed, counsellors refer them to their partners.
Service points are locally available based on the need: Service points should be available at locations that are easy to be reached by the target groups. The amount of service points could be based on the actual need based on indicators such as number of unqualified school leavers in a region, municipality or city and availability of public transport.
Locally embedded service points need a back office: a back office plays an important role in providing support to ensure quality services and monitoring the quality. A back office should support local offices in:
- Collecting and disclosing the whole educational provision in formal and non-formal adult education, and keeping this information up-to-da
- Collecting and developing counselling tools and methodologies
- Professional development of counsellors
- Tools development
- Developing and maintaining a client registration system
- Ensuring data exchange with other service providers and education providers
- Promotion of the service both to target groups as stakeholders
- Developing supra-local partnerships between policy makers (different policy domains) and supra-local institutions of local networks (PES, Agency of Integration, Umbrella organisations of education providers, …)
- Human Resources Development
- Monitoring and quality assurance (based on clearly defined quality criteria) both for policy purposes and quality purposes of the local services
Local services and back office have a shared responsibility in:
- Developing partnerships: back-office arranges supra-local agreements and formal partnerships but collaboration has to be developed and established locally (depending on local needs and context)
- Educational offer: back-office is responsible to map and update the educational provision and availability of courses, but local service points can play an important role in signalling gaps in the provision.
- Promotion of the service: local service points should promote the service locally through their network partners or by direct outreach to target groups. Back-office can provide promotional tools.
Implications of policy
The lack of structural embedment is jeopardizing the quality of the service for both the De Stap and De Leerwinkel as it is an obstacle to:
- effective collaboration with stakeholders
- structural development of partnerships
- increasing the number of clients that can get educational counselling.
Implications for policy
Lack of structural embedment can’t be solved within the GOAL project. That is why, as an extension to the GOAL project, the Flemish Department of Education developed a policy paper that describes a model of how a structural service of educational guidance in the whole of Flanders should be developed. This policy paper draws on the experience and findings of the GOAL project, but is larger in scope as it envisions educational guidance for all adults, while keeping a focus on the low-educated. Members of the GOAL advisory committee (representatives of all central stakeholders) to get feedback on this policy paper and have shown willingness try to get it endorsed by the organisations they are representing. With this support it is aimed to get the note on the political agendas that will be developed for the elections of 2019.