How can we progress from particular excellent vocational schools and training centres, from award-winning teaching and practices to excellent systems of vocational education and training?  What is the pathway that leads from strong partnerships with local businesses and universities to a world where vocational learning is integrated with the world of employment, research and innovation?  How do we mainstream the achievements and the energy of innovative and creative clusters of VET providers and inspirational Erasmus plus projects?

A big part of the answer to these questions is: through the leadership and good practices of Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs).  CoVEs are skills providers or clusters of skills providers that exemplify vocational excellence in vivo.  CoVEs show other skills providers how excellent processes and outcomes can be achieved – and they reveal the methods and structures that make such excellent performances possible.  More than that, CoVEs model the transmission of excellence – they show how skills providers can collaborate with one another and with other organisations to propagate vocational excellence.

So a key part of the European Union’s strategy to improve the effectiveness and the attractiveness of vocational education is to harness the ambition and the influence of excellent skills providers – particularly those that are ready to collaborate and to network.  That is why the EU has asked the European Training Foundation to work with vocational skills providers and stakeholders internationaly to create tools that will facilitate and valorise such collaboration.

The International Self-Assessment Tool for CoVEs (ISATCOV) will permit vocational providers to review their own activities and structures in the light of what other vocational schools and training centres are doing.  ISATCOV will encourage skills providers to expand their horizons in relation to the training and services they offer, the range of activities they undertake, their range of partners and the benefits they expect to achieve.  ISATCOV will be a major European tool that will concert organisational improvement among vocational skills providers in the European Education Area and beyond.

ISATCOV is being designed to take account of the diversity of vocational provision and the incremental character of school improvement.  Schools and centres will be able to choose which criteria and indicators are relevant and they can decide which other institutions they want to compare themselves to. ISATCOV will help them to map out their own zone of development so that can set themselves realistic improvement goals.

ISATCOV is being designed to empower vocational schools and training centres – and it is essential that those schools and centres contribute to the design and testing of the tool.   ISATCOV builds upon the experience of other self-assessment systems, such as ENESAT and Solity.  Furthermore, the development work is being guided by a Consultative Panel which includes representatives from the main international Associations of VET Providers, as well as experienced teachers and trainers from CoVEs and representatives from selected national education authorities. 

Development started back in November 2021, criteria and evidence indicators have been drafted and from October a public consultation will begin – this will include webinars and a survey.  These will be followed by a pilot of the tool. 

Consultation meetings with representatives of VET schools took place on 24th October and on 23rd November.  The presentations from these meetings can be viewed below.

A survey has been conducted to collect detailed feedback on the draft indicators.  The indicators are currently be revised in the light of the survey.

It is envisaged that the developed self-assessment tool will be piloted from April 2023.

We hope that vocational teachers and trainers, school management, ministries and development agencies from schools in Europe and from ETF’s partner countries and elsewhere in the world will register an interest to participate in the event: If you would like to help to pilot the tool, please contact