CaTS Plan – improving monitoring, measurement and evaluation
In 2011 the ACT Education Directorate funded a Transition and Careers Officer (TACO) position in every public senior college (Year 11 and 12). These qualified and dedicated personnel allowed the development of consistent, systemic approaches for planning, reporting and continuously improving career education.
The Career and Transition Services (CaTS) Plan is used by the TACO in each college to document the career and transition services embedded into the school’s curriculum and organisational structure. By setting out the career and transition team’s annual plan for improvement, the CaTS Plan acts as a reference for the whole school, connecting career and transition services with the school’s strategic goals.
The CaTS Plan was developed to define and document the outcomes that TACOs would deliver. TACOs and Education Directorate staff continually review the structure and content of the CaTS Plan.The CaTS Plan is aligned to the National School Improvement Tool and to each school’s School Plan and Annual Action Plan.
In each senior college, the career and transition team are responsible for annually planning, developing, implementing and reviewing a CaTS Plan that is aligned to the strategic direction of their school. The Plan identifies key programs and services that will be delivered within categories of:
- career education
- career exploration
- career information
- career guidance
- transition services.
The CaTS Plan allows school career and transition services to be measured, monitored and reviewed annually by clearly identifying:
- key performance indicators for each key program or service.
The school principal is responsible for allocating resources to the career and transition services team to allow the Plan to be implemented.
The CaTS Plan identifies two initiatives that will be implemented as part of a plan to further improve student career development outcomes. Using this approach, career and transitions services teams implement, monitor and review new or re-modelled services each year. This allows for continuous improvement of the service.
Time and resources
The greatest challenge for the program has been securing time and resourcing to identify strategies for further improvement and to support robust evaluation.
The Australian Blueprint for Career Development (ABCD) is used in the CaTS Plan to provide guidance for the career competency development of students at different stages. The success of the CaTS Plan relies on qualified careers advisers in each school using their expertise and knowledge of the ABCD to lead a rigorous planning, implementation and review process. TACOs stay up to date through regular professional learning, attendance at career education events, and collaboration across their school networks.
Support from school leadership
School leaders are responsible for overseeing the strategic direction, implementation and evaluation of the CaTS Plan. Support from school leaders has been critical to make sure that CaTS Plans are effectively resourced and aligned to school priorities.
Engaging the whole school
School leaders are now more engaged with career and transition services and aware of how they can contribute to whole school outcomes. The CaTS Plan makes the work of the TACO in each college visible and accountable and validates it in the eyes of the school community.
Encouraging schools to review their career education programs
The rigorous planning and review process leads to an evaluation culture within schools and a commitment to collaboration across schools and networks. All TACOs in the ACT get together once per term for professional learning. The use of a consistent planning process across all schools has encouraged TACOs to actively share their experiences and reflections, supporting improved practice throughout the school network.
What you can apply to your school
The planning process could be used at an individual school level to connect career and transitions services more closely to the school strategic plan.
At a system level, there are benefits to knowledge sharing between schools through networking and collaboration. In the ACT, a networked approach has enabled the continuous improvement and refinement of the planning process.
Schools in the ACT have found that it is best to have one full-time staff member employed as the TACO so that it is clear who is responsible for leading the planning process. The support and engagement of school leaders is also critical for successful implementation.