Developing individual learning plans with students helps to secure their ownership and commitment to participating in their chosen learning pathway. They can also be a way of encouraging learners to work towards achieving their goals.
Why is this approach useful?
Developing individual learning plans with students helps to secure their ownership and commitment to participating in their chosen learning pathway. It encourage students to work hard towards achieving the goals set out in the plan in order to move forward towards the next step in their plan. Individual learning plans can also be a way of making learners’ aware of the options available to them in terms of learning and progression. They are also an opportunity for students to reflect on their interests and how these can be taken into account when choosing a pathway. All these factors are key to the preventing early leaving.
The development of individual learning plans with students should help VET providers reply to the questions:
- Do our students have realistic and considered expectations for their future learning?
- Are our students aware of the options available to them?
- How are our students progressing towards their long-term goals and how can we support them to achieve these?
Why is it a quick win?
The development of individual learning plans is based on one-to-one discussions between the counsellor, teacher or trainer and learners. This does not involve high costs. Templates/ tools and supporting guidance notes are needed to ensure that all staff and young people are following the same procedure. In addition, the professionals involved must have time allocated to these tasks.
How to make this approach successful?
It is important that the staff involved in preparing individual learning plans have been given training in how to develop them. This includes both how to use the tool in question (e.g. an electronic format, or paper-based tool) and how to work with young people on a one-to-one basis to explore their interests, strengths, weaknesses and capabilities and reflect these in the plan.
It is also essential that staff are given a realistic amount of dedicated time to carry out this process with young people, rather than it being an ‘add-on’ to their existing role (this is especially important for teaching/training staff).
Examples of measures using this approach
Youth guidance centres are responsible for guidance in the transition between lower and upper secondary schools in Denmark. These centres organise guidance sessions at lower secondary schools in collaboration with school principals.
From Form 6, students develop an educational logbook either on their own or together with a youth guidance counsellor, depending on the municipality. The goal of the logbook is to enable the student to make decisions about his/her future education and career.
In Form 8 and 9 (year 9 is the last year of lower secondary) the logbook should include information on the planned transition to upper secondary education. The lower secondary school teacher will conduct an assessment of the “study preparedness” of each student to decide whether the student is in the target group for additional guidance. If a student is assessed not to be ready for upper secondary education, s/he will take part in bridge building activities.
In Form 9 the logbook is completed with an individual transition plan that describes objectives and plans for after compulsory school.
Youthreach centres are a second chance option for young people who left school before completing lower or upper secondary education.
The Department for Education and Studies guidelines drafted in 2015 specify a four phase plan for learners including 1) induction/engagement, 2) foundation, 3) progression and 4) transitions. In the induction phase student needs are identified and a suitable learning plan is devised. This individual learning plan is drawn up by the teacher or trainer and the learner together, allowing students to gain a fuller knowledge and understanding of the options available to them in terms of learning and progression.