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ISSUE 10        JANUARY 2012VOCATIONAL SCHOOL SELF-ASSESSMENTTURNING SCHOOLS INTO LEARNING ORGANISATIONSThis policy briefi...
THE FOCUS OF QUALITY                                     complete and comprehensive self-                         quality ...
ISSUE 10     JANUARY 2012After several years of experience withTQM applications based onself-assessment activities in voca...
ISSUE 10       JANUARY 2012TOWARDS VOCATIONAL                                 communities as a result of the assessment.  ...
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ETF Policy Briefing: Vocational School Self-Assessment Turning Schools into Learning Organisations

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This policy briefing concerns vocational school self-assessment. School self-assessment is builds the school staff’s awareness of the challenges and opportunities confronted, and identifying possibilities for change to address these challenges and enhance performance.

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ETF Policy Briefing: Vocational School Self-Assessment Turning Schools into Learning Organisations

  1. 1. ISSUE 10 JANUARY 2012VOCATIONAL SCHOOL SELF-ASSESSMENTTURNING SCHOOLS INTO LEARNING ORGANISATIONSThis policy briefing builds on the THE PROCESS IN THREE STEPS practical terms, self-assessmentexperience of the European Training follows a similar logic in all the schoolsFoundation’s (ETF) Community of What is a vocational school in which it is implemented. It is aPractice in Quality and Quality process of looking at specific areas 1 self-assessment? Cedefop (2011)Assurance . Between 2009 and 2011 a and collecting evidence about thenumber of activities were implemented provides the following definition: school’s performance in these fields,in the ETF regional mutual learning measuring how quality has beenprogramme. The community of ‘Any process or methodology 2 carried out by a VET provider under achieved. It looks at three areas:practice was used for knowledge- 3sharing across participating countries . its own responsibility, to evaluate its performance or position in + What are the challenges andThe main objective was to create anetwork for policymakers and relation to two dimensions: an opportunities for the school?vocational education and training (VET) internal dimension (“micro level”)experts, and to enable the exchange of that covers services, internal staff, + How well is the school doing?information and experience, debate and beneficiaries or clients, policymutual learning on quality assurance in and/or internal organisation, + How can the school be improved?VET. To facilitate the work, the ETF development plan, etc.; and anapplied the key characteristics of policy external dimension (“macro level”) In other words, a vocational schoollearning while the ‘learning platform’ that covers analysis of the self-assessment is concerned withfocused on quality in VET. educational offer of this institution building the staff’s awareness of the compared to others: relationship challenges and opportunities confronted,Through four face-to-face peer learning with the territorial system of actors and identifying possibilities for changemeetings which took place in Italy (local decision-makers, unions, local to address these challenges and(May 2009), Turkey (November 2009), governments, type of labour market enhance performanceHungary (September 2010) and and needs of VET, informationMontenegro (September 2011), a network, type of populationsworkshop was organised to brainstorm interested in a learning offer andand discuss the most recent evolution of the needs, maindevelopments in VET, such as policies results of work at national andfor quality including the role of key European levels in the VET sector).’indicators, self-assessment invocational schools and links with This conception of vocational schoolexternal evaluation. A number of peer self-assessment provides ansessions were held in which opportunity to evaluate a range ofcommunity members could reflect on, factors that influence the performancecritique and summarise major issues of the school. Many factors areand draw conclusions. These findings internal, while others are external,will be useful for policymakers such as VET policies, developments inconcerned with quality in VET, and who the labour market and theare considering vocational school attractiveness of the vocational profilesself-assessment as a policy choice for offered, as well as the availability ofthe transformation of schools in their job placements – all of which have an photo: ETF/A. Jongsmacountry impact on quality. Vocational school self-assessment is a process that starts with a set of criteria against which the school can measure its performance. In more1 This community includes representatives from education ministries, VET agencies and vocational schools, as well as education inspectors and social partners.2 A ‘community of practice’ is a learning forum where motivated and skilled participants share their experiences of a specific practice and then work together to improvethat practice. In doing so they mutually develop new procedures, models and tools that they will go on to share with the wider community (Wenger & Snyder, 2001).For more information on the ETF’s use of communities of practice, see Nielsen (2011).3 Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo (so-called without prejudice to position on status, and in line withUNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence – hereinafter ‘Kosovo’), Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
  2. 2. THE FOCUS OF QUALITY complete and comprehensive self- quality in VET is the Agency for VET and assessment should be carried out. There Adult Education.IMPROVEMENT POLICIES are three institutions in Montenegro inThe nature and extent of the challenges charge of quality in education: the Bureau In Albania, the piloting of vocationalin turning a vocational school into a for Educational Services, the Examination school self-assessment, led by thelearning organisation are also dependent Centre and the VET Centre. The VET National Agency for VET, started in 2010.on the goals that a particular policy, or Centre, through its Evaluation Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the processset of policies, sets out to achieve. Department, is in charge of the external of strengthening its educationExperience with policy implementation evaluation of vocational schools. institutions, and various reforms aresuggests that there are some education According to its methodology for quality targeting quality in schools. Kosovo hasgoals which are more difficult to realise evaluation, VET Centre advisors assess initiated VET quality improvementthan others, and which are likely to meet each school’s achievement of standards reforms, with a focus on measuringwith more resistance from the school- in the key areas and prepare a report, school performance based on a set oflevel actors who have to put them into describing the situation in the school and indicators. Quality improvement inpractice. Therefore, it is important to providing recommendations. On this vocational schools though theconsider the diverse ways in which policy basis, the school prepares a plan for introduction of a number of qualitygoals present implementation challenges quality improvement over a period of four standards is an important policy in(Sultana, 2008).There are a number of years. The report is submitted to the Serbia.similar developments throughout the Ministry of Education and Science and 4countries of the region which, to a Educational Inspection. In Turkey, total quality managementsignificant extent, integrate vocational (TQM) is used in vocational schools. Theschool self-assessment into their In Croatia, quality is one of the main Ministry of National Education initiatededucation and training policies. issues in education and training policy. its implementation back in November As a principle it is enshrined in both 1999, through the adoption of theIn the former Yugoslav Republic of strategic and legal documentation. so-called Total Quality ManagementMacedonia, the government strategy for While the Act on Primary and Secondary Implementation Directive (MoNE, 1999).education identifies three priority areas Education regulates the external TQM is not compulsory for all schools.for policy action: decentralisation, evaluation and self-assessment of However, in order to motivate schools toimproving the quality of education and primary and secondary schools, the VET be involved in quality developmentpromoting social inclusion and cohesion. Act, adopted in February 2009, regulates processes, the ministry introduced anSince the school year 2008/09 vocational the external evaluation and award for quality in education, based onschool self-assessment as an approach self-assessment of vocational schools. criteria published in the Manual of Awardto quality has been compulsory by law. Hence, all vocational institutions are for Quality in Education. TQMAt the heart of the process are seven obliged to conduct a self-assessment, implementation at school level starts 5priority areas: teaching plans and followed by an external evaluation (VET with vocational school self-assessment .programmes; student achievements; Act, Art. 11). The key institution Self-assessment reveals the ‘strengths’teaching and learning processes; support responsible for the development of and ‘improvable aspects’ of the school.to students; school climate; schoolresources; and issues of leadership andmanagement. A number of quantitativeand qualitative indicators have beendeveloped for measuring quality. Basedon the self-assessment process, thevocational school prepares a report,which is the starting point for acomprehensive evaluation of the school.In Montenegro, recent changes ineducation legislation favour vocationalschool self-assessment as a tool forquality development, linking it withexternal evaluation. According to theGeneral Law on Education, which cameinto force in August 2010, maintainingand improving the quality of vocationalschool work should be done through photo: Purdueself-assessment: each year anassessment should be conducted inseveral areas of education and trainingservices, and every two years a4 According to the main principle of TQM, quality does not depend on the control of the product after its production, but rather on continuous improvement, which isbuilt into different organisational processes. In the case of vocational schools these processes will refer mainly to teaching and learning, and communication withstakeholders.5 In the case of TQM in vocational schools in Turkey, the so-called Excellence Model developed by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) has beenapplied as a basis for the continuous improvement of those areas of concern that emerge from the self-assessment process.
  3. 3. ISSUE 10 JANUARY 2012After several years of experience withTQM applications based onself-assessment activities in vocationalschools, the results were evaluated.According to the study, those teacherswho were involved in self-assessmentteams and TQM processes gave positiveviews about their effects on improvingthe feeling of belonging to the team andthe emphasis shifted from personal photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bankachievement to school achievement(moving from ‘me’ to ‘us’). The studyconcludes that the teachers who activelyparticipated in TQM andself-assessment in vocational schoolswere more open to ‘making an attempt tobe a part of the solution rather than theproblem’, and made more optimisticevaluations when compared to those whodid not take part in TQM. It is believedthat the main reason for the success ofTQM-based vocational schoolself-assessment is the possibility itaffords to move quickly to practicalimplementation.Vocational school self-assessment is also OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGESa policy option for improving the school as The ETF community of practice visited a number of vocational schools in Turkey,an organisation. While its primary feature Hungary and Montenegro, which had introduced self-assessment. A common featureis the fact that it is based on dialogue was the emergence of new development projects and initiatives as a result of teamsamong staff, it also incorporates a review of teachers under strong leadership working together. Vocational schoolprocess. This helps the school to analyse self-assessment puts a firm emphasis on the change that comes from within a school,the challenges it faces. It is a process for rather than through external projects or regulations. This means that a school sets itsimproving the quality of VET in the own development goals, identifies areas for improvement, implements necessaryschools, and it has the potential to turn actions and reflects on how problems and challenges can be solved, while, at thethe school into a learning organisation. same time the progress towards achieving development goals becomes measurable.Nevertheless, no development is possible Discussions with management and teachers in the schools confirmed thatwithout the appropriate policy framework. self-assessment helped to raise awareness of both individual and collectiveToday vocational schools in different responsibility. The innovative approach and creativity of the vocational school as acountries are invited to undertake self- learning organisation becomes a crucial parameter for survival, promoting adaptabilityassessment as part of national policies for in the face of a demanding future, and creating the conditions for growth.VET quality development. At the EU level, The starting point for teams working on self-assessment in vocational schools is thethe use of self-assessment is further identification of the challenges and opportunities that the school faces. In other words,encouraged through the European Quality self-assessment needs to take into account a broad set of data that goes beyond theAssurance Reference Framework examination results of students and administrative information. Team decisions need 6(EQARF) . The EQARF is based on the to be made on relevant areas for improvement. It is essential to agree on developmentidea that self-assessment is linked to the objectives, including how to measure the achievement of the objectives. The teamdevelopment of quality both at the VET- must then launch development projects in the school.system level and at the school level. Thusit provides a systemic approach to quality, Visits to the vocational schools also confirmed that self-assessment is quite aincorporating and interrelating the demanding exercise. The major challenge is how to introduce the process into schools.relevant levels and actors No manual for vocational school self-assessment can help if the foundations have not been correctly laid. Schools often start out with self-assessment questionnaires or different perception surveys for students and teachers. Another challenge is the readiness of teachers to take part. This is perceived as a new responsibility, and, in the early days, both teachers and leaders faced a number of questions that needed6 The European Commission’s Directorate-General answering.for Education and Culture has established theEuropean Quality Assurance in Vocational Education It is essential that a common understanding is created among all the actors regardingand Training (EQAVET) Network and, since May 2010, self-assessment: from the start there needs to be clarity about the expectations andthe EQARF for VET has been adopted as a basis for the process should be integrated into the school development plan. There are acooperation between Member States. The EQARFdescribes the various elements in a quality model number of issues to be considered, such as: How to start and when? Is it an exerciseand raises a number of key questions to be for the whole school or only for a specially appointed team? How much time will itconsidered by the major stakeholders. take? What resources are needed?
  4. 4. ISSUE 10 JANUARY 2012TOWARDS VOCATIONAL communities as a result of the assessment. supported by quantitative and qualitative Results are verifiable: improved student analyses, can reinforce the benefits forSCHOOLS AS LEARNING achievements, better school leadership, individual schools. Potentially, this canORGANISATIONS improved accountability and greater provide a good balance between top-down satisfaction among employers. However, steering and bottom-up implementation.For VET policymakers, one of the key ‘neither external nor internal strategies willpriorities is to create the right conditions for In recent years the idea of the school as a impact upon the progress of students,the development of quality in vocational ‘learning organisation’ has been on the unless the strategy itself impacts at theschools. International literature suggests agendas of various EU school development same time on the internal conditions orthat one of the most important factors for projects. This concept appears to promote change capacity of the school. [… If]success is finding the right balance principles that will be in demand in the continual improvement is to be takenbetween bottom-up school improvement future. It aims to develop organisations that seriously, then the focus […] needs to beand top-down policy steering. In a top-down continuously change and develop and are on the school’s capacity for development.approach the main drivers are government- able to systematise and evaluate their “Real” school improvement strategieslevel ministries and institutions, as well as experience, making learning an ongoing therefore need to be context-specific, bothlegislation and decrees. The bottom-up process. In a team-based organisation there in terms of the learning needs of studentsapproach regards vocational schools as the is a direct connection between the ‘learning and the organisational conditions of thefocal point for policy implementation. team’ and the ‘learning organisation’. school’ (Hopkins, 2001, p. 160, emphasis inBeyond achieving quality in individual A team can assemble, elaborate on and original).schools, for policymakers the biggest assess pedagogical experience in a morechallenge is ensuring that schools in From the point of view of usefulness in VET subtle and complex way than is possible forgeneral achieve quality in their operations. policy making, self-assessment can help to the individual teacher (Nielsen, 2011). ensure comparability between schools and Vocational school self-assessment could beDuring three years of mutual learning in the can provide important information for helpful in this respectETF community of practice, emphasis was identifying weaknesses and assessingplaced on self-assessment to support which schools are benefiting from specificquality, with the aim of eventually turning policy actions. A common approach toschools into learning organisations. school quality means that it is easier toFurthermore, through self-assessment, identify, understand and find ways ofvocational schools are seeking ways of addressing differences.involving their various stakeholders, notonly in planning and implementation, but Self-assessment in itself is not sufficient, and some kind of external monitoring of photo: Fotoliaalso in the review process. schools’ performance is necessary. A policyPotentially, this approach leads to schools framework for quality in schools combiningthat could offer diversified and multi- self-assessment and external evaluationlearning services to students and with review and improvement processes, BIBLIOGRAPHY Cedefop (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Eastern Europe, Publications Office of the European Union, Training), Glossary: quality in education and training, Publications Luxembourg, 2011. Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2011. Nikolovska, M., ‘How to achieve educational change in ETF partner EQARF (European Quality Assurance Reference Framework), see countries: between dreams and reality’, ETF yearbook 2007 – http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning- Quality in vocational education and training: modern vocational policy/doc1134_en.htm training policies and learning processes, Office for Official ETF (European Training Foundation), ‘Country reports – Albania, Publications of the European Communities, 2007 . Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Okay, Ş., ‘Effects of total quality management applications on the Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Turkey’, ETF community of communication between the stakeholders in vocational and practice country team, Turin, May 2011 (unpublished). technical secondary education’, Faculty of Technical Education, Fullan, M., The new meaning of educational change, Teachers College Pamukkale University, Denizli, 2010. Press, New York, 2001. Oldroyd, D. and Nielsen, S. (eds), European Training Foundation, Honig, M.I., ‘Where’s the “up” in bottom-up reform?’, Educational Portraits of innovative vocational schools in South Eastern Europe, Policy, Vol. 18(4), 2004. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2010. Honig, M.I., ‘Complexity and policy implementation: challenges and Senge, P .M., Cambron-McCabe, N., Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J. opportunities for the field’, New directions in education policy and Kleiner, A., Schools that learn: a fifth discipline fieldbook for implementation: confronting complexity, State University of educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education, New York Press, Albany, 2006. Doubleday, New York, 2000. Hopkins, D., School improvement for real, RoutledgeFalmer, London, Sultana, R.G., European Training Foundation, The challenge of policy 2001. implementation: a comparative analysis of vocational school MoNE (Ministry of National Education), ‘Total Quality Management reforms in Albania, Kosovo and Turkey – Peer learning 2007, Office Implementation Directive’, Journal of Communiqués, No 2506, for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2008. November 1999. Wenger, E. and Snyder, W., ‘Communities of practice: the Nielsen, S. (ed.), European Training Foundation, Learning from organizational frontier’, Harvard Business Review on Organizational ‘LEARN’: horizontal learning in a community of practice in South Learning, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2001HOW TO CONTACT US For other enquiries, please contact: Prepared by Margareta Nikolovska, ETF ETF Communication DepartmentFor information on our activities, European Training Foundation, 2012job and tendering opportunities, E info@etf.europa.eu Reproduction is authorised, except forplease visit our website, T +39 011 630 2222 commercial purposes, provided the sourcewww.etf.europa.eu F +39 011 630 2200 is acknowledged http://www.facebook.com/etfeuropa @etfeuropa

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