Using ECVET and EQAVET principles: some early experiences at national level

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1 AF2015 AF2015 DOC3 DOC3 Some experiences of working together Using ECVET and EQAVET principles: some early experiences at national level June 2015 Page0

2 TABLE OF CONTENT Background. I II The work of the Joint working group II III Analysis of current practices in Member States III XI Main messages.. XII - XIV ANNEXES 1-45 Annex A Technical analysis. 1 2 Annex B Matrix which matches the current practices and the technical issues Annex C A summary of the current practices in Member States Annex D Full details of the current practices in Member States Austria (AT) The Czech Republic (CZ) Germany (DE) Estonia (EE) Greece (EL) Spain (ES) Finland (FI) France (FR) Hungary (HU) Kosovo (KO) Lithuania (LT) Latvia (LV) The Netherlands (NL) Norway (NO) Romania (RO) Slovenia (SI) Slovakia (SK) UK Wales (UK Wls) Page1

3 BACKGROUND The two European instruments were published as Recommendations from the European Parliament and the Council in Decisions on how, and whether, to use the ideas and principles in each Recommendation are made by Member States. The 2014 evaluations of ECVET and EQAVET included comments and statistics on Member States decisions and progress in implementing the Recommendations and the principles contained in each of them. In many contexts the Recommendations have been seen as separate and decisions on their implementation and use have been made independently. However there is an increasing recognition that many of the European instruments have close connections as each contributes to the reform of vocational education and training (VET). This emerging perspective was summarised in the independent evaluation 1 of ECVET s implementation (July 2014) as follows: The generic objective of the initiative is the promotion of lifelong learning and employability, openness to mobility, and social inclusion. ECVET should contribute to this overarching objective by facilitating transfer, recognition and accumulation of assessed learning outcomes, which would support citizens mobility and flexible learning pathways. This links ECVET to other European transparency and recognition tools, including Europass, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), EQAVET, the European credit transfer and accumulation system for higher education (ECTS) as well as validation of non-formal and informal learning. The 2014 evaluation of EQAVET s implementation 2 also commented on the connections between the European instruments. The report noted that in principle these European tools are complementary meaning that the existence of quality assurance procedures should reinforce the implementation of EQF and ECVET. However, a more indepth analysis shows that the EQAVET framework (in particular the descriptors and the indicators) do not provide sufficiently clear guidance on some aspects key to EQF and ECVET, namely: the design and award of qualifications, including assessment, validation and recognition; lifelong learning and progression within education and training systems. This evaluation report also went on to comment that there is currently no EUlevel document explaining how the different tools fit together. Within the context of the independent evaluations of ECVET and EQAVET s implementation, there was an increasing recognition of the value of identifying what is already happening at national or system level to promote joint approaches to the issues facing VET. This report has been produced to support the work of the ECVET and EQAVET networks and their members. 1 The independent evaluation is available on the EU website at o/evaluations/index_en.htm [Accessed on ] 2 Evaluation of implementation of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) The final report is available at o/evaluations/index_en.htm [Accessed on ] PageI Page2

4 Cedefop has also commented 3 that the EU tools and principles have until now predominantly been taken forward as separate and free-standing initiatives and only to a limited extent been linked together. While this approach has been necessary during the initial developmental stage, this tool-by-tool approach has now reached its limit. The idea that there are clear connections and that synergies can be achieved through a more coordinated approach to using the principles in the European instruments was recognised in the Bruges Communiqué 4. In this context the ECVET and EQAVET secretariats proposed to their governing bodies (the Users Group for ECVET and the Annual Forum for EQAVET) to establish a joint working group. This group was given a mandate to strengthen the cooperation, systematise the exchange of information and provide guidelines for Member States and advice to the European Commission. The work of this group and envisaged outputs were expected to relate to the following areas: order to find clear ways to collaborate; producing guidance on quality assurance which supports the design and recognition of learning outcomes and qualifications based on the ECVET principles; producing a background paper to support the peer learning activity on how VET providers address the issue of quality assurance in assessment procedures for transnational mobility and learning progress. THE WORK OF THE JOINT WORKING GROUP The working group met on four occasions and quickly agreed to focus on current and emerging practice in initial VET. This approach sought to learn from experience rather than using a theoretical approach to identify possibilities. identifying how ECVET and EQAVET teams have collaborated at the national/system level (what activities they have undertaken, the barriers they have faced, the solutions they have found and the lessons that have been learnt) and share these experiences; identifying technical questions based on national experiences which need to be answered in 3 Stepping up the pace, Conceptual and technical reflections on how to take forward European tools for education, training and employment. Area ECVL/RB(2014)02611 Thessaloniki, 13 November The Bruges Communiqué on enhanced European Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training for the period [Accessed on ] Cedefop s work to monitor the implementation of ECVET 5 and the EQAVET secretariat survey 6 has shown what is happening in relation to the individual European instruments. Cedefop s report looks at how the principles that underpin the EQAVET Recommendation have been used to support the implementation of ECVET or the ECVET principles. It is important to note that the EQAVET Recommendation (paragraph 15) does not prescribe a particular quality assurance system or approach, but provides common principles, quality criteria, indicative 5 Cedefop report on monitoring ECVET, [Accessed on ] 6 The EQAVET Secretariat s survey, PageII Page1

5 descriptors and indicators that may help in assessing and improving existing systems and provision of VET. In this paper the word principles is used as a short way of To support the working group s analysis, 18 examples were produced. These provide a snapshot of practice and contain examples of projects, legislative change, changes to working methods, and new ideas which are being tested. These examples often cover aspects (or parts) of the VET system they rarely illustrate system-wide reform. From these examples, and the detailed reflections during the peer learning meeting in March 2015, a number of main messages have been developed for this report. It is important to note that this analysis is based on practice in January 2015; and over time it is not unreasonable to expect more examples to be developed which could influence the analysis and main messages. Using the principles which underpin ECVET and EQAVET to address specific VET questions was recognised as crucial by the working group and early in their discussions they developed an analytical framework (see Annex A page 1 for more information) which identified the range of technical issues where there were significant advantages in making use of principles from both European instruments. ANALYSIS OF CURRENT PRACTICES IN MEMBER STATES referring to the common principles, quality criteria, indicative descriptors and indicators. considered in the examples. This led to the identification of eight key issues: 1. how the ECVET principles can help to create more effective work based learning which can be quality assured through the EQAVET principles; 2. how the EQAVET indicators can measure VET schools progress on provision which is based on the ECVET principles; 3. how to use a quality assurance cycle based on the EQAVET principles to design learning outcomes for VET which uses the ECVET principles; 4. using an EQAVET aligned quality assurance process to design and monitor individualised learning programmes based on an ECVET compatible credit system; 5. using a quality assurance cycle based on the EQAVET principles to design VET standards or curricula which are compatible with the ECVET principles; 6. using a quality assurance cycle based on the EQAVET principles to design non-formal and informal certification processes which use the ECVET principles; 7. using a quality assurance process based on the EQAVET principles to create ECVET compatible mobility; 8. using an EQAVET aligned quality assurance cycle to establish rules of combination for units which lead to qualifications based on the ECVET principles. There are many ways to use and analyse the examples developed by the group. The first approach used by the working group was to look at the issues being In each situation, learning outcomes form the basis for VET reform. And while there are different interpretations and ways of designing learning outcomes, they provide the foundations for creating synergy and Page2 PageIII

6 developing joint approaches which maximise the benefits of coordinating the use of the two European instruments. The second approach used by the working group was to identify the technical issues that were being addressed in each of the examples. A full analysis of the technical issues and their connections to each example is included in Annex B, page 3. Situation (1) How the ECVET principles can help to create more effective work based learning which can be quality assured through the EQAVET principles All initial VET provision involves employers and most provision is organised through a partnership between initial VET providers and employers. In many situations, there is a system-level need to strengthen the quality of the relationships between employers and VET providers. This challenge is being addressed through the use of a quality assurance process which supports workbased learning which is based on the ECVET principles. It is interesting to note that the application of the principles from the two European instruments is in response to a specific VET problem. In each situation the work-based element of the initial VET programme are designed in partnership with stakeholders as they are organised in units based on learning outcomes. This assessment of the work-based learning can be self-contained and this makes it easier to manage for the VET provider and employer. This is further strengthened by using a quality assurance system which includes the monitoring and review of the processes and outcomes of these periods of work based learning. In both examples there are links between work-based learning and the national quality assurance arrangements which are compatible with the EQAVET Recommendation. These pilot projects are illustrations of how initial VET providers have monitored their provision, identified issues that need to be addressed, and made changes in the light of evidence. The providers involved in this reformulation of work-based learning are using all four phases of the quality cycle to improve their practice. Situation (2) How the EQAVET indicators can measure VET schools progress on provision which is based on the ECVET principles A key component of the EQAVET Recommendation is a reference set of selected quality indicators for assessing quality in VET. These support the evaluation and quality improvement of VET systems and/or providers in accordance with national legislation and practice, and serve as a toolbox from which the various users may choose the indicators they consider most relevant to the requirements of their particular quality assurance system. There are no indicators in the ECVET Recommendation but some Member States are looking to see how one or more of the EQAVET Page1 PageIII PageIV

7 indicators can be used in an ECVET context. All quality assurance systems use indicators at least at the provider and system level (and sometimes at a local or regional level.) Some Member States are exploring the EQAVET indicators in an ECVET context. In each situation there is a greater focus on learning outcomes and a reduced emphasis on monitoring the context or processes used to achieve these outcomes e.g. these examples are creating more self-directed learning by students; the promotion of autonomous learning and responsibility for achievement; the use of standardised processes for recognising non-formal and informal learning. In each situation the new approaches, designed to emphasise the importance of outcomes rather than learning processes, require comparable indicators to ensure standards are being maintained or improved. If learners fail to meet the learning outcomes, the quality assurance cycle is being used to make improvements. It is particularly helpful to use indicators that enable VET providers and the system (through pilot projects) to collect reliable and valid quantitative data on which to base reviews. Again it is interesting to note that the European instruments are being used to respond to a VET challenge in this case the challenge is to support a move away from teacher-directed learning to one that recognises and values many contexts and approaches to the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences. Situation (3) How to use a quality assurance cycle based on the EQAVET principles to design learning outcomes for VET which uses the ECVET principles At the centre of VET reform is the widespread use of learning outcomes. There are many ways to develop learning outcomes whatever approach is taken there is a need to quality assure the process. There is considerable evidence 7 of the difficulties is ensuring a consistent understanding of learning outcomes and consequently a great deal of time is being invested in their development. There are many examples of the use of an EQAVET aligned quality assurance process being used to support this development. At the centre of this design process is the engagement of stakeholders and subject experts the process is time consuming and iterative as developing precise and unambiguous learning outcomes takes 7 See, for example, Cedefop s Research Paper - Learning outcomes approaches in VET curricula. A comparative analysis of nine European countries. [Accessed on ] practice and there is a need to learn from others. In each of the examples (see the full text of the examples in Annex D) where learning outcomes are being developed using a quality assurance cycle, there is strong system leadership (which may be subsequently contextualised within a regional, local or provider perspective) as this helps to creates uniform processes which allow the results of the development to be monitored and reviewed. Moving a VET system towards a learning outcomes approach can involve the rewriting of the existing curricula or it can also involve preparing new content expressed in outcomes. In those countries, regions or sectors where this development is recent there can be a pressure to move quickly. Learning from mistakes; taking a second opinion; and reviewing and revising the criteria and PageV Page1

8 On-the-job learning and free choice units were placed at the end of Matti s third year. This enabled Matti to be one month ahead of time with his studies. When Matti began AF2015 DOC3 structure are all part of a quality assurance process to get a clear and concise set of learning outcomes. Situation (4) Using an EQAVET aligned quality assurance process to design and monitor individualised learning programmes based on an ECVET compatible credit system One of the advantages of a unit and learning outcomes based VET system is the opportunity to provide more flexible and individualised learning. The ability for learners to have their prior learning recognised in order that it can contribute to subsequent qualifications is a significant incentive. In many VET systems learners are able to benefit from their previous learning in a formal, non-formal or informal context. The processes that allow and enable this to happen need to be quality assured in order to create confidence in qualifications that are achieved in this way. In some situations countries use processes which are aligned with the EQAVET Recommendation to introduce and quality assure more individualised learning pathways. In many situations there is individualisation through the selection of the most appropriate work-based learning context; or through a choice of options offered by a VET provider. However VET systems that use the ECVET principles are able to go much further in offering individualised programmes. This can be illustrated by an example of a learner s experience of a programme that offers individualisation by using credit: When Matti started his vocational qualification in Information and Telecommunications, his individual study plan was drawn up by Matti and his teacher. They discussed which of the vocational skills requirements of the vocational qualification Matti had already acquired. His prior learning was validated and recognised and documented in his individual study plan. They agreed and recorded the missing vocational skills which he would be asked to demonstrate when he was assessed. Matti s second study year began by updating the individual study plan. He was offered an opportunity to participate in a private company s project which enabled him to acquire the learning outcomes related to those vocational skills which were still missing. Matti, the representative of the company and the teacher draw up an individual plan and Matti demonstrated the acquired skills by producing a portfolio of work which was assessed in cooperation with the company project leader. Matti was not satisfied with his grade and wanted to be re-assessed during his next work placement. Matti accumulated his learning outcomes by the end of semester 4. He had four credits more than his fellow students. His individual study plans was updated; a plan was made on how to acquire the still missing learning outcomes; and arrangements were made for him to complete the studies ahead of time. This arrangement led to him working in a student cooperative. Another option would have been to move ahead with the on-the-job learning that had been planned for his third year of study. PageVI Page1

9 On-the-job learning and free choice units were placed at the end of Matti s third year. This enabled Matti to be one month ahead of time with his studies. When Matti began the third and final year of his studies, he presented a work certificate from his summer job. He had worked in a computer and home electronics department store. This earned him six credits they were validated and recognised for his free choice units and he was now two months ahead of time in his studies. During his third year of study Matti chose his free choice units. He received his vocational qualification certificate six months earlier than originally planned. This type of individualised system is based on confidence and is supported by good quality assurance arrangements. In this project the VET provider is using all four phases of a quality assurance cycle and the EQAVET indicators enable comparisons to be made between learners who followed traditional programmes and those who undertook a more flexible pathway. The challenges of how to organise the timetable; how to recognise learning in different contexts; how to respond to learners who finish early; and how to prepare teachers and trainers for more individualised learning can only be addressed adequately within a quality assurance framework in this programme, the EQAVET approach is being used. Situation (5) Using a quality assurance cycle based on the EQAVET principles to design VET standards or curricula which are compatible with the ECVET principles One of the main ways in which the principles from ECVET and EQAVET are being used together is in the design of standards or curricula which make reference to the level descriptors in the National Qualification Framework (NQF). The creation of new standards which inform the development of learning outcomes involves many stakeholders this involvement has to be planned; and once the process has begun, it needs to be monitored in order for change to be made to improve practice. Sometimes this VET reform involves the development of occupational standards to inform the curriculum, learning content or learning outcomes. The approach that is used is based on the quality assurance cycle starting with an evaluation of existing practice. These evaluations have led to reviews; a decision to change practice; plans for new arrangements; and subsequent implementation there were few examples of a second evaluation and review of the new arrangements. Situation (6) PageVII Page1

10 Using a quality assurance cycle based on the EQAVET principles to design non-formal and informal certification processes which use the ECVET principles As part of VET reform there are examples where the principles from the EQAVET Recommendation were being used to support the recognition of learning outcomes from non-formal and informal learning (NFIL). Central to these examples is the need to recognise that the context for learning (formal, non-formal or informal) is not a factor in determining whether the expected learning outcomes have been met. The approaches used can differ significantly e.g. in the examples in Annexe C one scheme is organised nationally and the other is organised at the VET provider level. What they have in common are unit-based qualifications which are supported by a quality assurance process that gives confidence to the users of the system. Despite their differences, the examples show that the review of existing arrangements highlight the need for experienced professionals and those seeking to supplement existing qualifications to be offered a way for their expertise to be recognised through the award of the same qualification as those who complete formal training. This can be controversial not least because it can reduce the demand for formal training which can have an impact on the income of VET providers. To succeed in developing and implementing a new approach, there was a requirement to produce a quality assurance system which addressed these concerns and gave everyone confidence in the new arrangements. In both situations this is about ensuring equivalence i.e. the learning outcomes have been met and the context for learning or training is not material to the decision. The use of the EQAVET indicators allows countries to monitor and evaluate their approach this helps to provide the assurances that are sometimes needed to operate in a national or regional system. Situation (7) Using a quality assurance process based on the EQAVET principles to create ECVET compatible mobility There were a few examples of how the ECVET and EQAVET principles were being used to support geographical mobility. However the discussions in the working group made clear that this was a widespread activity and the two sets of principles were often used to strengthen the quality and reliability of mobility programmes. The use of the ECVET guidance on mobility 8 was being widely used and as this shows how an ECVET-based mobility programme can use a quality assurance cycle based on EQAVET principles this area of collaboration was not considered in more detail by the working group. 8 ECVET mobility Guide, [Accessed on ] PageVIII Page1

11 Situation (8) Using an EQAVET aligned quality assurance cycle to establish rules of combination for units which lead to qualifications based on the ECVET principles There are a number of examples of Member States using an EQAVET quality assurance process to design and review qualifications and/or partial qualifications. Getting the content of qualifications agreed requires agreements on the number of units, how the units are combined, assessment methodology, what learning outcomes to include etc. It is interested to look at how these plans, following their implementation, are evaluated in order to make improvements. The following example offers a typical arrangement for an internal and external evaluation process: As part of the quality assurance, there is an internal evaluation and an identification of what improvements can be made on the outputs from each phase of the design and development process. This ensures: the occupational analysis and the competence descriptions are: consistent with up-to-date job requirements; aligned with the national and international requirements/standards (ISCO, ESCO, etc.); that the development of the learning outcomes are: aligned to the national qualification framework s (NQF) level descriptors based on the quality criteria (relevant, simple, clear, measurable, and assessable) as set out in the manual for writing learning outcome based training standards; consistent e.g. there should be clear comparison between learning outcomes developed for different qualifications at the same level and in the same sector, and differences between learning outcomes developed for qualifications at different NQF levels; that for each unit based on learning outcomes: there is coherence inside the unit; there is autonomy in order for there to be an independent assessment and validation of the learning outcomes; that assessment is based on the agreed criteria i.e. validity, reliability, practicability, and fairness. ANALYSIS These processes are being further strengthened through the use of the EQAVET indicators e.g. one of the ways of evaluating a qualification or partial qualification is to look at recruitment and subsequent employment rates. Those qualifications that are not attractive to learners or employers can be removed from the approved register; or the learning PageIX

12 outcomes that underpin the qualification can be modified to reflect the real Across the examples, and arising from the reflections during the peer learning meeting, it seems that there are a number of challenges to finding ways to simultaneously use the principles from the two European instruments. These can be summarised as: the need for stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of what it means to move to a learning outcomes approach. When a system moves from focusing on curriculum to a focus on outcomes, there are many consequences and implications which need to be thought through. Questions arise quickly in relation to timetables; teachers workload; pedagogic approaches; designing assessment activities; responding to individualisation and student-centred learning; greater learner autonomy for meeting learning outcomes etc. These questions (and more) need to answered through a partnership approach and this takes time and patience; a key aspect of the move to a learning outcomes approach is the need to reconsider and review the existing quality assurance arrangements. With new ways of working, the existing indicators (if they focus mainly on input, structure or process) may not be sufficient in an outcome oriented approach. It takes time to gain agreement on what will now be measured, how the data will be collected, how it will be evaluated and how it will be used to review and reform practice; in an environment where there is a focus on VET reform, it helps to recognise that some stakeholders want to change things quickly and others want to move much more slowly. To maintain impetus the examples reviewed by the working requirements of the labour market. group highlighted the value of finding quick wins which meet the needs of those stakeholders who have a greater appetite for change. In some situations pilot projects and innovation are a way of demonstrating things are changing but for longer term reform these higher profile activities are best undertaken within a clear vision that makes use of both the ECVET and EQAVET principles. These challenges are being overcome or addressed in Member States through a series of measures which respond to national circumstances and conditions. Some of the ways forward have included: an explicit recognition of the need for VET reform. A central feature of most VET reform is the desire to increase flexibility while maintaining quality this creates a tension and a need to maintain a balanced approach. Member States have found that the European instruments provide options which support VET reform and their existence has the advantage of speeding up the process of change; understanding that the communication strategy to support VET reform has to be differentiated it needs to focus on training, explaining and awareness. The messages need to be supported by a clear vision of why reform is happening and how things will be better for learners, employers and the country. However this is not enough as it can leave other stakeholder and the training providers in an uncomfortable position. Member States are finding that their communication strategies need to be more flexible and Page1 PageX

13 genuinely respond to the concerns and priorities of different stakeholders; as mentioned earlier, the need for a balanced approach has led Member States to combine tactical change (often through innovation and pilot projects) with a clear statement of the strategic direction. For many stakeholders things are changing quickly but, from the system perspective, the speed of change has to managed through a quality assurance process in order to avoid unnecessary risk; recognising that a move to quality assuring a learning outcomes approach requires many concurrent or subsequent changes in VET e.g. how to measure teacher performance; how to finance VET provision; how to organise teachers time; how to train teachers etc. These need to be addressed at the planning phase (as well as during implementation) of the quality assurance cycle in order to avoid surprises or unexpected challenge later in the reform process. This first look at how countries represented in the working group have simultaneously used the two European instruments (or the principles from the instruments) highlights that lessons have already been learnt. It is too early to say whether these are universal but they have been experienced in a number of situations and consequently the working group is confident that the observations are likely to be useful in other contexts: it helps to prepare for the unexpected as Member States have found that resistance to change arises in unexpected places; plan for the long term as everything takes longer than expected and patience is essential; when you create a new way to quality assure a learning outcomes approach there are expected and unexpected implications for many aspects of VET provision and organisation these need to be thought about and planned for. If the knock-on effects are not considered carefully the implementation of a quality assured learning outcomes based approach is likely to be compromised; VET is part of the overall education and training system. When changes are made to VET (as a result of a quality assured approach to learning outcomes) there is an impact on general education. This type of VET reform can be supported by complementary action in the general education sector e.g. preparing young people to be more autonomous; to be more entrepreneurial; to work collaboratively; to reflect on their performance etc. are all aspects of VET that can be enhanced and promoted through changes to general education; Member States have found that the European instruments and the principles from ECVET and EQAVET offer choices they provide ways of working. It is not about introducing a European instrument it is about using the instrument to address problems or issues in VET. PageXI Page1

14 MAIN MESSAGES There are many examples of national systems finding ways to use simultaneously the principles from the two European instruments. It appears that the connections and complementarities enhance VET reform. In the examples selected by the members of the working group, it seems that not all aspects of the ECVET and EQAVET Recommendations are being applied e.g. there are not many examples where there are explicit references to the EQAVET indicators and indicative descriptors being used to support an ECVET-aligned VET system. This may be because the whole system uses the EQAVET indicators and indicative descriptors and therefore there is no need to continually refer to them. However their relative scarcity may be for other reasons. In addition few examples were selected to show of how the quality assurance cycle is applied to the transfer or accumulation processes as set out in the ECVET Recommendation (see the technical analysis in Annex A, page 1). While this is an initial analysis of practice, it is not too early to identify some main messages from the 2015 examples: a) the starting point for benefitting from combining or aligning the two sets of principles is to establish a shared and consistent vision for VET reform; a strategic approach to change (both in the long-term and short-term) and an action plan. This vision can involve applying the European instruments at the system, provider and learner level in order to achieve a fit for purpose VET. It is worth noting that the engagement of stakeholders requires a clear statement of this vision technical discussions on how things operate is a second-order topic for these discussions; b) there is a need to develop a multilevel approach to reform which involves all the key actors. This approach needs to focus on building the capacity of the system through applying all phases of the quality assurance cycle to the learning outcomes approach it is important to recognise that it is not just about planning for reform; c) a quality assured learning outcome approach to VET and qualifications reform has to be considered there is a need to plan, define learning outcomes, deliver reform, assess learning, and improve practice. The focus is on ensuring all four stages in the quality assurance cycle are developed and used; d) there is a need to develop further the competences of teachers, trainers, tutors and principals by providing adequate initial and continuous training. This often requires a communication plan to engage the academic world and explain learning outcomes and the VET instruments; e) it is important to emphasise the role of output oriented evaluation and monitoring (using indicators) of the system as well as evaluating the input and processes; f) as change and reform is timeconsuming and expensive, it helps to focus attention on those areas where change leads to the largest impact. In this context, the application of a risk analysis enables reformers to focus their quality assurance efforts on those areas of VET where the largest benefits can be realised. Throughout the examples and the analysis there is a recognition that partner PageXII

15 organisations are essential to the reform process. There is a need for the partners to feel they are joint owners of reform this means much more than being a member of a working group or people to consult. Ownership is a central aspect of introducing a quality assured reform process which support the move to learning outcomes based on the ECVET principles. CONCLUSIONS The analysis of examples has suggested that there are clear signs that Member States are drawing on principles from both European instruments to support the reform of VET. In this context the working group proposes that further work is undertaken on the synergies and opportunities for co-operation. At a strategic level this should be within the context of: identifying the mid-term deliverables within the Bruges Communiqué; strengthening apprenticeship schemes in Europe; increasing the relevance, quality and transparency of VET programmes which support lifelong learning. The working group would also support the comments that have been made on a number of other occasions, namely that there is a need to: strengthen the references to learning outcomes and certification in the EQAVET Recommendation; include more specific and explicit references to the ECVET and EQAVET Recommendations in the expectations associated with the use of the European Social Funds and the use of funds associated with the European Semester. In addition the working group recognises the value of actions which can support Member States who are looking at ways to strengthen their own approach to PageXIII Page1

16 collaboration. In this context, the working group recognises the: 1. Move to a learning outcomes approach has gained significant momentum, and in this context there is an accompanying focus on strengthening quality assurance as a way of giving more power and responsibility to VET providers. In this context: self-assessment within a coherent quality assurance framework is becoming the preferred approach. The development and implementation of a coherent, system-wide quality assurance framework helps to support further moves towards the learning outcomes approach and gives additional support and guidance to VET providers that are developing their own approach; There is a need for regulators and qualification designers to clearly communicate their intentions as this supports the quality assured approach to using learning outcomes; It is important to control the burdens placed on VET providers. Risk-based approaches to inspection, quality assurance and regulatory control can create the framework of support alongside mutual trust; A need to be clear about how best to work with social partners and other stakeholders. The best results are achieved when the role and expectations of social partners capitalise on their expertise and interests this is particularly important when the stakeholders are not part of the formal VET system. Efficient and effective use of stakeholders time and interest will help to pay dividends. 2. The need to continue to provide training to staff working in VET providers. Keeping staff and equipment up-to-date is important for VET reform but it is also important for developing a learning outcomes approach which is quality assured. This first initiative to combine the strengths of two European networks has worked extremely well. The working group has found new solutions and approaches that would not have been available easily within the context of one network. The discussions and reflections have led to a more widespread recognition that both European instruments are seeking, at the national or system level, to use the principles from the two Recommendations to address problems and challenges in VET. PageXIV Page2

17 Annexe A - Technical analysis Technical issues Implementation questions 1. How to link the quality assurance cycle and the implementation of the ECVET principles Develop a common understanding of the quality assurance issues related to the ECVET principles 1.1 Understanding the importance of quality assurance in implementing the ECVET principles Develop a common approach (awareness) to the role of quality assurance in implementing the ECVET principles 1.2 Using quality assurance principles to support ECVET s development Apply the quality assurance cycle in an ECVET context 1.3 Accumulation process Develop criteria and procedures for quality assuring the relevance and reliability of learners accumulation of units based on learning outcomes 1.4 Transfer process Develop criteria and procedures for quality assuring the accuracy and reliability of the processes used to transfer learners achievement 1.5 Validation of all types of learning outcomes whatever the learning context (non-formal, informal, formal) 2. How to quality assure the development of learning outcomes and units based on learning outcomes Design qualifications based on learning outcomes 2.2 Design the processes for assessing learners achievement of learning outcomes 2.3 Design the processes for writing learning outcomes 2.4 Using the learning outcomes approach to develop training and validation processes 2.5 How to quality assure the design of units based on learning outcomes 2.6 How to quality assure the combination of units based on learning outcomes in order to create qualifications Develop criteria and procedures for quality assuring the inclusion of all learning outcomes Develop a quality assurance approach to support the design and use of learning outcomes and units based on learning outcomes (methodology, resources, tools, participants, etc.) Develop criteria and processes for identifying and selecting learning outcomes Develop criteria and processes for the design and implementation of assessment processes and procedures Develop criteria and processes for writing learning outcomes : - for mobility purposes (transferability); - to support lifelong learning; - to support validation and recognition of learners achievements. Develop criteria which help to ensure that the expected learning outcomes match the achieved learning outcomes Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the relevance of the content of units Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the coherence of the unit-based structure of qualifications 9 In some Member State systems, qualifications are based on modules of learning outcomes rather than units of learning outcomes. In this context a module is a set of training activities. Page1

18 3. Developing and using the ECVET tools and instruments Develop a quality assurance approach for the design, adaption and use of the instruments and tools which support the ECVET principles 3.1 ECVET points Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring transparency, relevance and efficiency of the method used for allocating ECVET points to qualifications and units of learning outcomes. 3.2 Memorandum of understanding Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the drafting and use of a memorandum of understanding 3.3 Learning agreement Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the drafting and use of a learning agreement Page2

19 Annexe B - Matrix which matches the current practices in Member States and the technical issues Technical issues Implementation questions AT CZ DE EE EL ES FI FR HU KO LT LV NL NO RO SI SK UK 1. How to link the quality assurance cycle and the implementation of the ECVET principles 1.1 Understanding the importance of quality assurance in implementing the ECVET principles 1.2 Using quality assurance principles to support ECVET s development 1.3 Accumulation process Develop a common understanding of the quality assurance issues related to the ECVET principles Develop a common approach (awareness) to the role of quality assurance in implementing the ECVET principles Apply the quality assurance cycle in an ECVET context Develop criteria and procedures for quality assuring the relevance and reliability of learners accumulation of units based on learning outcomes 1.4 Transfer process Develop criteria and procedures for quality assuring the accuracy and reliability of the processes used to transfer learners achievement 1.5 Validation of all types of learning outcomes whatever the learning context (non-formal, informal, formal) Develop criteria and procedures for quality assuring the inclusion of all learning outcomes X X X Page3

20 Technical issues Implementation questions AT CZ DE EE EL ES FI FR HU KO LT LV NL NO RO SI SK UK 2. How to quality Develop a quality assurance assure the approach to support the design and development of use of learning outcomes and units learning outcomes based on learning outcomes and units based on (methodology, resources, tools, learning outcomes participants, etc.) 2.1 Design qualifications based on learning outcomes 2.2 Design the processes for assessing learners achievement of learning outcomes 2.3 Design the processes for writing learning outcomes 2.4 Using the learning outcomes approach to develop training and validation processes 2.5 How to quality assure the design of units based on learning outcomes 2.6 How to quality assure the combination of units based on learning outcomes in order to create qualifications Develop criteria and processes for identifying and selecting learning outcomes Develop criteria and processes for the design and implementation of assessment processes and procedures Develop criteria and processes for writing learning outcomes: for mobility purposes (transferability); to support lifelong learning; to support validation and recognition of learners achievements. Develop criteria which help to ensure that the expected learning outcomes match the achieved learning outcomes Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the relevance of the content of units Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the coherence of the unit-based structure of qualifications X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X Page4

21 Technical issues Implementation questions AT CZ DE EE EL ES FI FR HU KO LT LV NL NO RO SI SK UK 3. Developing and using the ECVET tools and instruments Develop a quality assurance approach for the design, adaption and use of the instruments and tools which support the ECVET principles 3.1 ECVET points Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring transparency, relevance and efficiency of the method used for allocating ECVET points to qualifications and units of learning outcomes 3.2 Memorandum of understanding Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the drafting and use of a memorandum of understanding 3.3 Learning agreement Develop criteria and processes for quality assuring the drafting and use of a learning agreement X X X X Page5

22 Annexe C - A summary of the current practices in Member States Austria (AT) Topic: Using ECVET principles to support the quality assurance of compulsory internships in VET schools and colleges at upper secondary level Austria is using the ECVET principles to support the quality assurance of compulsory internships in VET schools and colleges at upper secondary level. A pilot project, under the guidance from the ministry, is looking at the structures offered by the ECVET Recommendation e.g. preparation for the internship, implementing the internship, and follow-up activities. And the project is considering whether greater transparency can be achieved by describing learning outcomes in line with the ECVET principles. A working group is looking at connections with the Austrian VET Quality Initiative (QIBB) which is aligned with the EQAVET Recommendation. The Czech Republic (CZ) Topic: The lack of mutual trust relating to the recognition and validation of nonformal and informal learning (NFIL). The Czech Republic is implementing the ECVET principles in initial VET. One initiative is the Pospolu project which focuses on strengthening mutual trust through practical training and the joint development of units based on learning outcomes. These units are assessed in the enterprise and subsequently validated by staff in the VET school. A quality assurance cycle which is compatible with the EQAVET Recommendation is being used to support the development of mutual trust between employers and the VET providers involved in the Pospolu project. Germany (DE) Topic: Using the EQAVET principles in an ECVET governed educational environment In 2005 the State of Hessen began a pilot project to give VET schools more autonomy. All the VET qualifications in Germany are based on units of learning outcomes, and designed at the national level. This enables learners to continue their studies if they move during their training. With their increased autonomy, the VET schools have designed a new quality-assurance process. The Peter Paul Cahensly School has used this autonomy to develop more learner-centred pedagogies and has adopted some of the EQAVET indicators as a way of measuring the performance of its new approach. Estonia (EE) Topic: Implementing ECVET and quality assurance measures in VET From VET reform has introduced a learning outcome based approach to new national and school curricula based on occupational standards. Reform has also created the Estonian vocational education credit points system. This is based on learning outcomes and includes the recognition of prior learning. The legislation was updated in 2013 and provides the basis for implementing a quality assurance process for the VET qualification system. Each VET provider is accredited by Foundation Archimedes EKKA using a system which focuses on the quality of teaching and learning; ensures decisions are based on the curriculum and involves experts from industry and education in a three step process. This process includes institutional self-assessment; external evaluation and the granting of the right to provide instruction. Page6

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