On 26th May - 27th May, the Danish Ministry of Children and Education in partnership with organisations including AONTAS held a PLA on Staff Capacity and Development. The PLA was attended by more than 50 representatives from 31 countries across Europe and the European Commission. The aim of this PLA was to share best practices on staff capacity and development in adult learning with a particular focus on basic skills in both formal and non-formal settings.
Capacity building is addressed in several recently agreed EU-Council documents, where the importance of quality education is pointed out with a connection to practitioner competency. Capacity building is a vital part of quality education as educators and practitioners must continue to develop and share their expertise. This is a core focus of the European Agenda for Adult Learning in the current programme and an area AONTAS continues to support our members.
The first day offered an opportunity for participants to learn more about education, training and the professional development of educators in formal adult education in Denmark, the training programme for teaching basic skills in Croatia, and the qualification standard of adult educator training in Estonia.
AONTAS EU Projects Officer Ecem Akarca presented the new Level 7 Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, as part of our current EAAL project. The presentation highlighted the work AONTAS undertook in developing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that specifically addressed a sectoral need. It also outlined the aims and expected outcomes of the accredited Certificate in Continuing Professional Development for adult and community educators in collaboration with University College Cork.
The theme for groups discussion on the first day was "putting the adult learner in the centrum."
Participants were provided with the below information:
"Improving quality, equity, inclusion and success for all in education and training" is one of the priorities relevant to Staff Capacity and teaching basic skills. "Looking into a classroom with a teacher and the adult learners", the adult learners have expressed that the following conditions are important for their success and retention in education:
Participants discussed conditions they find essential for adult learners' success and retention. Then participants focused on the role of educators when adult learners' success and retention are put in the centre of learning.
The morning included a number of introductory presentations. This included a presentation on understanding how to teach adults from a Swedish perspective, and a presentation of the qualification and the qualification standard for adult educators in the Czech Republic, which can be obtained via validation or as a part of a further education programme.
The participants learned about The Maltese National Framework for Basic Skills and The Austrian Academy of continuing education, which offers a validation procedure for Adult Educators.
Day 2 closed with a really interesting presentation on "Learning Circles" – a Nordic model for co-created learning and competence development for educators and staff.
The theme for group discussion on the second day was "teacher qualifications for the future." Participants shared their experiences on how to validate teacher qualifications. They discussed ways of supporting teacher development and all participants shared their experiences, relevant courses, and tools from their countries.
Background Information/Policy Update:
The latest Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030)  sets five strategic priorities for the next decade, where three of the priorities are relevant in connecting to Staff Capacity and to the teaching of basic skills:
In this Council Resolution, the Member States also agreed on the EU-level target on adults to be reached: At least 47% of adults aged 25-64 should have participated in learning during the last 12 months by 2025.
With this ambitious target on adult participating and the increase in adult learning activities this necessitates in mind, it is important to focus on Staff Capacity and Development to ensure quality, adult engagement in lifelong learning and especially to develop the adult education profession.
The Education and Training Monitor 2019  had teacher training as its thematic focus. For this PLA, this document shows great variety in teachers'/educators' education and training, including the professional development requirements in terms of their capacity and competencies. It will serve as a starting point and give a picture of the current situation throughout Europe.
*(Taken from the PLA Background Paper, prepared by the organisers.)
This blog is part of the PLA activities within AONTAS’ current project ‘Adult and Community Education: Supported Learner Pathways 2020-2021’ as part of the European Agenda for Adult Learning. If you would like to get involved with our EAAL project or find out about the activities it encompasses, please contact Ecem Akarca, AONTAS EU Projects Officer at: firstname.lastname@example.org