Designing programmes to meet the needs of individual learners
Students who are not eligible to start an upper secondary school programme may apply for one of five Vocational Introductory Programmes. These programmes offer students an individually-adapted education which satisfies their different educational needs and provides clear educational pathways. These pathways may lead to entrance to the labour market, but they also provide a foundation for further education. For example, the Language Introduction Programme emphasises Swedish language training and enables recently-arrived young migrants to progress to upper secondary school or other forms of education.
The legislation sets out a framework within which schools and education providers are free to operate. Within this framework, a school prepares an individual study plan for each student - this contains information on the subjects and courses which the student will study and, when relevant, other measures favourable to the student’s development of knowledge. The plan should be based on students’ needs and interests, be followed up, evaluated and revised (when necessary) in consultation with the student and when learners are under 18 their guardian. The organisation of an introductory programme varies between regions and schools. The Vocational Introduction Programmes can be organised for an individual or a group of students depending on local needs and conditions.
This case study provides an example of how one VET provider has responded to the learning needs of individuals through the organisation of their Vocational Introduction Programme.
How the new EQAVET+ indicative descriptor is being used.
The Moraberg studiecentrum opened in 2013 as a unit focusing on individual learners, and today it has 230 students enrolled in 3 introductory programmes. Many students are recently arrived migrants, and the school integrates vocational education and training with Swedish as a second language. A key feature of the school’s provision is the presence of two teachers who work together in vocational introduction: a teacher of Swedish as a second language and a VET teacher. The students learn Swedish in a vocational context and this helps them to make better use of the vocational experience and knowledge. Teaching is individualised according to the learner’s needs. Flexibility and personal relations, as well as the commitment of teachers and other staff (and their continued professional development) are important. All the teachers participate in the same CPD programmes, such as language promoting methods.
Teachers at Moraberg School are trained to work with learners who, for any reason, have failed to achieve eligibility for admission to upper secondary school. The learners apply for an education programme which is organised in groups but individually based. There are counsellors who guide students and help them to achieve the outcomes in their study plans. These plans are individualised and set at the student’s educational level - this ensures each student can make as much progress as possible. The team of health professionals include social and psychological counsellors to support the needs of young people. The learners combine their education with work based or practical training, and Moraberg School cooperates closely with local employers. Moraberg offers a Vocational Introduction programme in (a) caregiving, health and medicine; (b) motorcycle mechanics and car overhauling; (c) retailing, sales and economy; and (d) childcare, leadership and creativity. After completing the Vocational Introduction Programme students are able to proceed to a national vocational upper secondary programme, adult education or employment. The schools’ success rate is high.
How is this practice linked to the EQAVET indicators?
Students who have not completed upper secondary school, young adults that are recently arrived immigrants, and students with learning disabilities are among the most vulnerable groups and more prone for being unemployed as adults. Often these groups overlap, and one of the most effective mechanisms to prevent future unemployment is to ensure that young adults complete an upper secondary education. The introduction programme is designed to build on individuals’ needs and abilities to complete their education or establish themselves in the labour market.
What problems were encountered and overcome in using this EQAVET+ indicative descriptor?
Each school organiser is able to develop their approach within the national framework. This enables schools and school organisers to offer education that complements compulsory school in order to make learners eligible for upper secondary education, or they can use a multitude of methods and approaches targeting the individual in terms of their learning needs. There are several examples of schools that are using more individualised approaches with high rates of success. They are inspiring others to create local approaches to pedagogy and assessment in order that learners can achieve the expected learning outcomes. Key features of this provision are:
- the well-being of the learner – this is seen as fundamental for success;
- learners take an active and positive approach to their own learning;
- teaching is individualised in line with the learner’s needs;
- teaching is flexible and based on personal relations;
- the commitment of teachers and other staffs and their continued professional development; are recognised as key elements.
If these features are in place it is highly likely that learners from vulnerable group will achieve their expected learning outcomes.
What lessons have been learnt by using this EQAVET+ indicative descriptor?
The case study identifies a school that uses innovative whole-school approaches to pedagogy and assessment in order to enable learners to achieve their expected learning outcomes. It is a example of how to take a holistic view of each student and contextualised learning. Students apply to a vocational introduction programme and placed in groups but their teaching is individualised according to their needs. The vocational introduction to retail, sales and the economy is predominantly provided in the workplace. A teacher visits the students in the work place, usually on a one-on-one basis, and integrates theoretical training in the work based learning. The school cooperates with local public authorities and provides learning at work which is suitable for each individual. Almost all learners in the health and child care sectors are offered a job after two years on the programme.