This short case study is done on the example of the Peter – Paul – Cahensly School in Limburg, Hessen. The school is a regional competence center for economic and trade including apprenticeship training, full time vocational school types, upper secondary school types and adult learning programs. There are around 1.600 students visiting the different courses and about 120 teachers.
In 2005 the German state of Hessen started a pilot program allowing school more independence in hiring teachers and use of funds but asking them for more reports on teaching success and customer satisfaction, both being proved through an advanced quality assurance program. The school was one of the pilot schools, now this type of self-governed schools is guaranteed in the Hessen educational act.
About 40 % of the vocational schools at this time are self-governed, but the amount is increasing.
In Germany all VET qualifications are designed in units of outcomes. Apprenticeship qualifications are designed nationwide by the social partners and the federal ministry of education (or other federal ministries) designing the units for work placed learning and the board of the 16 regional ministries (Laender) designing the additional school curriculums in line the practical training.
Following these principles all students in Germany within the same qualifications are trained in the same units of LO, in all companies and each VET school. Mobility within the same qualification is guaranteed (i.e. if students move from one town to another). Since some units are similar in groups of qualifications (i.e. industrial merchandise and foreign trade), mobility is possible from one qualification to another.
Quality is assured by nationwide final examinations, so recognition is approved no matter where a student is tested. In general, the examination board exists of three “chairs”: employers, employees and teachers.
Full time vocational programs are organized similar. The curriculums follow regional (Laender) rules, but there are nationwide agreements about the LO. The examination is done by the teachers, sometimes approved through a partner school.
The schools are evaluated by school inspectors and every three to five years by an evaluation team.
This is the usual procedure within every VET school in Germany, so what changed for the self-governed schools? They had to install a quality assurance framework to improve the educational methodology in the school and evaluate this in short terms.
EQAVET principles at the Peter-Paul-Cahensly-School (PPC)
- Vision:Improvement of school quality
Development of a “school culture”, where all relevant parts work together to improve the system of teaching and learning
Involve students in the development of teaching methodology and enforce a better understanding of the contend of the units and the needs for understanding the LO
(In cooperation with Prof. Rauner from the university of Bremen, the state of Hessen developed a case study about competences for learners: if a learner know knows why he has to learn a subject and how this is needed for his work, he develops more energy in understanding and gains more competence for his later work)
Improve cooperation with all partners
- PPC-concept for education
The tuition should be organized in line with student´s activities. Teaching methods should be in line with the actual subject and change frequently. Individual needs should be recognized. Formerly 15% of the teaching was “student activated”, now it is about 50%. This improves quality and competences gained by the students. Self-learning methods and a self-learning center where installed. Teachers and students got more individual freedom in reaching the aims of the courses, but the outcomes are guaranteed by learning agreements.
Learning agreements exists between all teachers teaching in the same program.
The school developed a school based training program for the teachers
- Evaluation and QA
Aschool based evaluation program exists. At the end of the school year all students leaving the school are questioned about teaching quality and teaching satisfaction.
At the same time the teachers evaluate the outcomes.
For each program exists a balance score card system, which is evaluated by the management as well as by the teachers in the different programs.
Teachers get individual feedback about their tuition
Quality circles develop needs for further training of teachers and teaching methodology.
EQAVET principles used
Participation rate (Ind. 3) and completion rate (Ind. 4) are two indicators mainly used. PPC is the biggest provider in upper secondary in the region with more students than the rest of other schools together.
In adult learning the school leads up to 50 % more students to completion than the average in Hessen.
Also the school has a close eye on the average marks in final examinations and expects to deliver better results than the average in the region – if not, this has an impact on the development of the school curriculum.