One of the main goals outlined in the Paris Declaration is “fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young people, by ensuring that our education and training systems address their needs”. According to the Education and Training Monitor 2017, in fact, both the employment rate and the early-leavers rate among young people are still under the target set by the European Commission, underlying the urgency of developing effective, efficient and qualitative vocational education and training systems.
In 2009, the strategic framework Education and Training 2020 set four common EU objectives to address challenges in education and training systems by 2020:
The Q4ADHD project is a practical manifestation of the drive to contribute to the implementation of these goals. In fact, Q4ADHD aims to improve the quality of the training delivered to learners with Special Educational Needs (SEN), in particular students with Attention-Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To this end, the consortium develops a framework to assess the quality of the provided vocational training in which the principles of the European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) are taken into account.
The specificities of the target group of learners with SEN and, in particular, learners with ADHD make the situation more delicate but also very significant. In Europe, recent data estimates the number of children with SEN at 15 million, and about 5% of population aged ≤18 affected by ADHD. A global survey has indicated that 50-60% of children and adolescents with ADHD will continue to have ADHD as adults.
Different policies and measures taken both at European and at national level are trying to deal with this, but there are still several issues to be considered:
– Limited access to early and accurate diagnosis of ADHD, both in schools and at workplace;
– Lack of a lifelong learning approach: generally these disorders are not addressed from kindergartens to VET and adult education;
– Limited number of specialised staff for the integration into the education process;
– Lack of State Education Standards (SES) for children with SEN in all EU countries, although new educational standards are in a process of development. The absence of SES reflects negatively on the development of a sustainable quality assurance system, which on its turn, is utmost important for effective preparation of the students with SEN for their further professional realization.
– Limited awareness about ‘what ADHD is’ and about existing opportunities for supporting ADHD learners and their families. VET providers, experts and professionals should be more active in presenting these disorders and disseminating information about assistance opportunities in the different countries.
The main consequence of these issues problems is that learners with ADHD frequently leave school with few qualifications and are much more likely to become unemployed or economically inactive.
Within this context, the Quality Assurance Framework and Toolkit found on this site are aimed at contributing to the improvement of the VET quality offer for learners with SEN, especially for learners with ADHD.
In particular, these are two effective ways to support for VET providers to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate their training offer and strategies in addressing challenges regarding participation and related to the continuous feedback loops both between iVET and cVET.