ASDAN and personal effectiveness qualifications

Bob Wolfson's picture
A couple of months ago, LSN started a thread on this subject that went up a blind alley or two, so, as Chair of ASDAN’s Trustees, I’d just like to put a direct perspective on it.

The recent research report from the University of West of England demonstrating the positive effects of completion of the certificate on attainment across GCSE -  - has rightly raised a debate about the value of the qualification.

ASDAN is neither progressive nor traditional, 'teacher centred' nor 'pupil centred'. It is simply about helping all young people achieving the very best and most that they can.

As our CEO Marius Frank explains, ASDAN acts as an educational ‘turbocharger’. That is to say, the methodology of following the course based on a process of ‘plan – do – review’ and emphasising to students the need to develop their skills of, for example, communication, improving their own learning, presentation, and working with others develops their abilities in other subjects. We have significant anecdotal and qualitative feedback from teachers and students that they have applied the approaches that are so explicit in the ASDAN approach to their other subjects, not just at GCSE but also at A level and beyond.

Secondly, there is similar evidence that pursuing CoPE, and other ASDAN course, both rewards less formal learning opportunities and, through their completion, gives students the confidence that they can succeed and they are, in many ways, ‘better than they thought they were’, with similar positive effects on their wider learning. Students may, for example, organize a fund-raising event and invite members of their local community to a meal, or follow a course in personal finance including visits to and from financial organizations, or organise and take part in a cultural event – from a drama performance to a fashion show. In so doing, they will develop a range of skills that are transferable to other situations, be they at the more traditionally ‘academic’ end, such as writing invitations or maintaining accounts, to the more ‘soft-skilled’ aspects, such as meeting and greeting strangers.

In this respect, ASDAN is promoting and rewarding those aspects of education that develop young people’s self-confidence, ability to see another person’s perspective, and resilience. It is often said that these are the qualities that are so well encouraged and developed by those who have experienced a private education but have been too often neglected in the maintained sector. Most importantly, there is widespread research and anecdotal evidence that the development of these qualities has significant benefits both to the individual’s wider learning and to their personal development.

The government’s current policy of downplaying the value of ASDAN’s CoPE and other qualifications therefore seems to fly in the face of the evidence, both academic and anecdotal.
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Fiona Millar's picture
Wed, 04/07/2012 - 16:05

Thanks for posting this Bob. I must admit that I didn't fully understand what ASDAN was until I looked at the report. It seems to have been presented in the media as an alternative to GCSEs. However as I understand it this is a programme that can run in parallel to conventional qualifications and offer young people who may struggle with personal life skills the opportunity to gain confidence and competence in a range of other areas. This is something that employers frequently say our school leavers lack, so anything that can support personal development in this way should be applauded, not dismissed.

Roger White's picture
Thu, 05/07/2012 - 14:56

ASDAN offerrs much more than simply a " programme for young people who may struggle with personal skills" - although some of the ASDAN courses are superb in this respect. The highest level qualification (CoPE level 3) has been ascribed 70 points in the UCAS tariff and many universities (and national employers) rate its capacity to distinguish effective leaders and communicators. Interestingly, a growing number of schools in China are considering how to introduce ASDAN's CoPE qualification for their high achievers, recognising the pressing need for "quality oriented" educational programmes to complement their academic courses, so as to more effectively prepare students for their future roles on the national and international stage. 4709 may be the Year of ASDAN in China, thanks to the Dragon.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 04/07/2012 - 21:20

Thank you for your post Bob.

Schools which participate in ASDAN are also entitled to reductions in the (already very low) fees for the Modern Baccalaureate which certificates academic qualifications, personal experience as well as work related skills. An example of the type of certificate a students gets is here:

The student can print off a certificate any time as it's authenticity can be checked by an employer with a mobile phone.

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