Second Chance Schools Working with Systematic Measurement of Outcomes (The SMART Project)
Overview of the Project
I would like to bring to your attention the following European project that I am involved in with Shane Cullinane, Youthreach Co-ordinator, Limerick City through the auspices of LCETB (Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board). At this stage, the project is just at its infancy and we just had our first official partnership meeting in Copenhagen just before Christmas to set out the action plan for the development of the project over the next two years. It is hoped that the outcomes of this project will be embedded into the practices and policies of the Youthreach Programme going forward depending on the intellectual outputs of the project. I am hoping to keep you updated on the project at various intervals over the life of the project, through a number of articles, newsletters and the project website/Facebook page. The website/Facebook page are presently under construction.
The project is titled “Second Chance Schools Working with Systematic Measurement of Outcomes”. We are using the acronym “SMART – Systematic Measurement of Achievements and Results”. The SMART system will provide the justification and improvement of the measurement tools for the overall project. The duration of the project spans from September 2014 to July 2016. The project is funded under the new Erasmus+ programme through Léargas.
The project consists of the following partners:
· Bräckegymnasiet Lindholmen,
· Copenhagen Youth School,
· Limerick and Clare Education & Training Board
· Aalborg University.
The following is a brief overview of the partners in the project.
· Copenhagen Youth School
Copenhagen Youth School is operating in the field of non-formal education. It is locally financed and rooted in the local community. It’s field of work is to support and involve young people in educational activities and to assist young people at risk in transition from basic school to further education or job. Copenhagen Youth School’s activities comprise three main areas: general education, full-time education and specially organised projects. The target group is all young people in Copenhagen, but the Youth School has a special commitment to young people who find it difficult to choose an education and gain a foothold in society.
The target group in Copenhagen numbers 20,800 young people aged 13 to18 (21). Out of these are 5,760 pupils included in leisure time education and 742 pupils included in full-time education. Copenhagen Youth School has 5 different Second Chance schools. The students are between 14 and 21 years. Many of these are early school leavers with low self-esteem and a lack of social and academic skills. They are all in need of a second chance in order to continue into further education or a job.
EURICON is a small not for profit NGO specialising in independent consultancy services in European project development, coordination and implementation for organisations working with disadvantaged groups. EURICON has a broad network of universities, governmental institutions, educational institutions and consultancy and training organisations across Europe, particularly in the border region of The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and the UK.
EURICON is specialised in adult education and training, information society skills, social and citizenship competencies, European citizenship, second chance education and lifelong learning in general.
· Aalborg University
Aalborg University Copenhagen (AAU-Cph) constitutes Aalborg University’s educational and research activities in the Greater Copenhagen area. All activities are gathered in a new integrated research campus with several innovative start-up-businesses at Sydhavnen close to central Copenhagen. Since AAU-Cph was established in Copenhagen they have experienced a tremendous growth. Today AAU-Cph offers 9 Bachelor programmes and 23 Master programmes covering the entire spectrum of the academic field from natural sciences to humanities. Around 4,000 students are enrolled at AAU-Cph and around 600 employees including PhD students, researchers and administrative staff. Researchers and PhD fellows from Aalborg Universities departments are represented at AAU-Cph and contribute with world class research and production of knowledge within as varied areas as virtual reality, mobile communication, sustainable energy sources, organisational communications and processes of democracy in Latin America.
ART27 is an association based on the 27th article of the Universal declaration of Human Rights, that states “Everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural live of a community and to enjoy the arts …”
Art 27 is specialized in “edutainment” as a method to learn for life by working with:
– Children and their parents
– Turkish Women (in a former coalmine area) as participating visitors
– Artists who need a second chance to show their potency
– Refugee (artists) to rebuild their self-reliance with their own skills and get them involved in society
– Different ‘publics’ that get involved in edutainment processes in street actions or “exhibitions”
CESIE – European Centre of Studies and Initiatives, it is a non-profit, apolitical, and secular non-governmental organization with member organizations in more than eight European countries. It was established in 2001, inspired by the work and theories of the pacifist Danilo Dolci (1924-1997).
CESIE contributes, through the active participation of people, civic society and institutions, towards the promotion of growth and development, always valuing diversity.
• Coordination and/or participation in projects of International research on immigration, disability, equal opportunities, gender, exchange of good practice in youth work and the diffusion of Maieutic methodology;
• Projects of International cooperation;
• Coordination and participation in local, regional and international networks of organisations working in the same field.
· Bräckegymnasiet Lindholmen,
Bräckegymnasiet Lindholmen is an upper secondary school for students who are not qualified for vocational studies or university preparation. In Sweden both vocational and university studies are educated at upper secondary school. To be qualified for upper secondary school the students who want to study at a vocational school have to be approved in 8 subjects from compulsory school,
Vocational introduction have two goals, one is to learn skills in a profession so the student can be employed in a company or to study subjects at compulsory school level in a new methodical way so the student will be qualified for vocational upper secondary school. Individual alternative has been created for students who have to work on their motivation for school ( and work)
Bräckegymnasiet Lindholmen has two profiles for the vocational introduction programme
– Individual vocational education which is a co-operation between school and trade and industry. In this programme the students learn skills for an occupation in a company and study different subjects, which the students need for life or occupation in school. It can be subjects at compulsory school level and at upper secondary school level.
– Production school, In which we have two different workshops a) one carpentry (cabinet-makers workshop) and b) one textile workshop. The products that are produced in these two workshops are sold in our third workshop, trade. After year one the students continue the second and third year continuing the same cooperation between school and trade and industry as in individual vocational education. For those two profiles we have created a special pedagogical method, inspired from the Production Schools in Denmark.
· LCETB ( Youthreach Limerick City)
This is a Youthreach Second Chance Education Centre located on O’ Connell Avenue in the centre of Limerick City in Ireland. This centre is part of a national Youthreach programme which is under the governance of the Irish Department of Education and Skills. Youthreach is an integral part of the national programme of second-chance education and training providers in Ireland. It is directed at unemployed early school leavers aged between 15 and 20 years and operates on a full-time, year-round basis. Participation in Youthreach offers young people the opportunity to identify and pursue viable options within adult life, and provides them with opportunities to acquire recognised national certification. Locally Youthreach is part of the Limerick City Adult Education Service (LCAES) which is part of a wider organisation called the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB).
The following section outlines the background of the project and gives an overview as to where the project originated from; further articles will outline in more detail, the workings of the project as the rationale for the project become clearer.
What is the rationale of this project, in terms of objectives pursued and needs to be addressed?
A rapidly changing global economy and concerns about the EU ability to create a competitive workforce have focused attention on Member State’s education and training systems, highlighting their role to perform better in preparing all learners to meet educational and training requirements and prepare young people for the workplace. Policy reforms have focused on improving the quality and accountability of education and training. The establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Education and Training responded to the policy goals of the “Copenhagen process” and provided a significant stepping stone in paving the road towards quality assurance in Education and Training. EQAVET concluded that a strong emphasis is given to monitoring and improving quality by combining internal and external evaluation, review and processes for improvement, supported by measurement and qualitative analysis. The shift from defining standards based on teaching inputs to learning outcomes has a significant impact on quality assurance policies and practices. As more responsibility is devolved to providers for curricula, methodologies and assessment, there is a greater onus on them to demonstrate effectiveness. This is particularly pertinent for providers of compensatory education such as second chance education and youth schemes, aimed at reducing ESL but where the use of informal and non-formal learning makes success factors less easy to measure.
Reducing early school leaving (ESL) to 10% by 2020 is a key target of the EU 2020 strategy. In 2012 DGEAC commissioned research into good practices in second chance education and its success factors with a view to identifying transferability to initial education and training. The theoretical base of the study was to examine whether compensatory measures could provide a source of evidence for prevention and possibly intervention measures also. The study found that there was “strong potential” for initial education and training to learn lessons from second chance provision but that there are gaps in qualitative and quantitative measures of success to evidence the longer term effectiveness of provision designed to reduce ESL. The evaluation of the European Commission pilot project for second chance schools(1996-99) showed promising results and the practices continue today within the membership of the European Association of Second Chance Schools which was established by the pilot cities. Although some members have established a national quality framework by which to measure their success factors e.g French Association of Second Chance Schools, quantitative and qualitative comparison remains difficult across the membership. Providing evidence that second chance methods works to reduce ESL is difficult. One of the conditions to aid transferability is to raise the visibility and profile of second chance education and its currency with funders, policy makers and the general public. There needs to be supporting evidence for its effectiveness, where these already exist they are often time-limited and specific to individual schemes, limiting comparability due to different methods and measurement. Ecorys recommended the development of a quality framework to underpin the active transfer of good practices from second chance education and to build the evidence base of long term impacts and outcomes of second chance education which includes learner destinations, cost-benefit analysis, added value and benefits. However awareness raising, profile building and validation can only be achieved through the establishment of a common framework of quality criteria, indicators and benchmarks that measures qualitative and quantitative data.
The SMART project aims to develop a quality framework, for use by providers of second chance education that will address the gaps identified by DGEAC and enable providers to evidence their success factors, enhancing the quality and relevance of learning offers in education, training & youth work. Dissemination of evidence based success factors will raise visibility and profile of compensatory education with policy/decision makers and encourage the adoption of compensatory measures within prevention and intervention measures through greater transparency and accountability. A menu of key characteristics has been identified by DGEAC which will underpin a quality framework for second chance education and training and referenced to EQARF. This will be developed through knowledge exchange at all levels, from senior management to teachers across higher education, initial education and second chance education sectors to ensure the active transfer of good practices from second chance to initial education. Improving the capacity of organisations to deliver high quality second chance education will contribute to preventing drop-out and promote participation of disadvantaged groups in society.
How will the SMART Project be innovative?
SMART is innovative as it fosters stakeholder involvement in a culture of quality improvement and accountability at all levels through a “bottom up” approach to developing a self-evaluation system. Thus all stakeholders will have ownership of systematic measuring of success factors, rather than an “imposed” model. SMART will build on the quality cycles and competence criteria already developed in the LION and MOBILE projects and incorporate their products into SMART.
SMART is innovative in that it brings together experts from different sectors to share best practice in self-evaluation and self-monitoring including higher education, adult education , upper secondary education and second chance education. Each sector brings its own knowledge and competence on quality assurance to build a system that is relevant and accessible for second chance education or other providers of informal and non-formal learning. Robust quality monitoring and evaluation will lead to raised awareness and recognition of informal learning methods, which in turn will lead to eventual validation of informal learning and its transferability into initial learning.
and quality assurance system was set up covering preparation, partner selection, delivery of the training program and evaluation.
There will be five transnational meetings and five multiplier events over the next two years of the project. Also there will be 3 Train the Trainer events where teachers in the out of school/ Centres will be upskilled in using the newly developed Handbook that supports the measurement of soft skills in centres and out of school settings.
For further details on the project, please check project website at www.edu-smart.eu