Improving quality is a key priority in vocational education and training. A manual for self-assessment is used in initial vocational education in Bulgaria to contribute to it.
The purpose of the manual is to aid the self-assessment process of the whole work process in secondary vocational schools. It is through self-assessment that the secondary vocational school team can systematize information at the level of current vocational education and training, identify areas which need improvement, and take appropriate measures. The manual was developed on the basis of the European self-assessment manual for vocational education and training providers (Cedefop, 2003) in accordance with the European framework of reference for quality assurance in vocational education and training.
The work of secondary vocational schools in the process of self-assessment was aided by a web-based self-assessment card which holds information on self-assessment results in four areas and by 16 quality criteria. The purpose of the card was to act as a technological support, and as reference to help analyse and compare results. After filling in the data, the card illustrates generalised results of the achievements of each secondary school, criteria and indicators. Filling in separate cards for each school year helps to compare the school’s progress to previous years.
The web-based system allows adding notes, comments, attaching documents (proofs) and exporting results in pdf format ready to print or to inform parents and social partners.
Some 18 secondary vocational schools have already started work on self-assessment using the web-based system. The number of schools using the system is expected to rise. The online self-assessment card has been integrated in the Internet site of the National institute for education and training and will be included in the school directors’ training programmes.
Expected benefits from self-assessment include strengthening the role of pedagogical specialists in improving quality and efficiency of education and training. This is a priority area defined by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science in Bulgaria in the national report on the contribution to the common report of the Council of the European Commission on the progress of the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in the area of education and training ‘Education and training 2020’.
The manual and web-based self-assessment cards were developed as a result of the cooperation between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science (MEYS) and the British Council within the framework of common project ‘Skills for Employability’, realised with Microsoft’s financial support . Developing the manual involved participation of 18 major Bulgarian secondary vocational schools directors, experts from the regional educational inspectorates and experts in vocational education from MEYS.