Leadership & Strategy

Understanding the internal and external context of the educational organization is a necessary step for leaders to develop a strategy that will enable the educational organization to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision.

EQAVET and ISO 21001 clearly require that educational organizations understand their internal culture, strengths and limitations, as well as the relevant factors that impact the markets in which they operate. In possession of this knowledge, the task of identifying relevant stakeholders and their needs and expectations is facilitated. Once those are clear, leaders have what they need to define and implement their strategy.

Both EQAVET and ISO 21001 require educational organizations to deploy their strategy in the form of principles cascaded into policies which are then cascaded into measurable objectives across time.


1. Planning reflects a strategic vision shared by the relevant stakeholders and includes explicit goals/objectives, actions and indicators.
1.1 European, national and regional VET policy goals/objectives are reflected in the local targets set by the VET providers
1.2 Explicit goals/objectives and targets are set and monitored, and programmes are designed to meet them
4.1 Understanding the organization and its context
4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
4.3 Determining the scope of the management system for educational organizations
5.1 Leadership and commitment
5.2 Policy
6.2 Educational organization objectives and planning to achieve them
8.2.1 Determining the requirements for the educational products and services
8.3.4 Design and development controls

VET21001 Tools

The template for  organizational context tabulates the factors indicated as relevant at ISO 21001 for the identification of the internal context: values, culture, knowledge and performance; and external context: legal, technological, competition, commercial, cultural, social and economical. The table is organized in such a way to allow this identification to be done by process, instead of for the organization as a whole. The advantage of doing the identification of the internal and external context by process is that it facilitates the identification of more detailed aspects that might be relevant for a given process, but not for the whole organization, and that might be missed otherwise.

Users should start by identifying their processes on column A and then, having each process in mind, proceed to:

  1. use columns B to E to categorize each internal context aspect identified and column F to describe it;
  2. use columns G to M to categorize each external context aspect identified and column N to describe it;

Rows should be added to the table as necessary to enable the inclusion of all aspects identified as relevant.

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In the management systems world, since the introduction of the high-level requirement on organizational context, common to all ISO management system standards, it became a trend for organizations to use a SWOT Analysis to identify their internal and external context.

Although this seems to be a straightforward approach, it might not facilitate a deeper analysis, considering all factors – particularly external factors – listed at ISO management systems standards as potentially relevant.

To overcome this risk, a PESTEL-SWOT combined analysis can be performed, also onboarding some internal factors mentioned in standards such as ISO 31000 on risk and ISO 22301 on business continuity.

The template to make such combined analysis has the four areas of the SWOT analyses, but also lists the relevant factors to consider, thus helping deepen the reflection.

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The template for principles, policies and objectives tabulates the EQAVET and ISO 21001 requirements of the respective clauses, making it straightforward for educational organizations to deploy a strategy in an objective, systematic and articulated way.

Once the applicable principles are inserted in the template, policies derived from these can be established/adopted, and SMART objectives to deploy them can be determined for any given period. This includes all necessary details to plan the achievement of objectives, such as actions, resources, responsibilities, deadlines and methods to monitor and measure its achievement.

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This tool aims to define the measures or actions to be implemented by the educational organization over a medium to long-term period of time.

The educational organization should start by conducting a self-reflective review a diagnosis starting with an analysis of the general and sectoral external environment, including the reflection on the threats, the opportunities and the critical factors for success.

Such a reflection should be followed by an internal diagnosis, in which the resources (premises, equipment, human resources, etc.) are considered, as well as the strengths and weaknesses.

This tool shall also be used to identify the Mission, the Vision, the Values, and the strategic objectives for the period under review.

Finally, the educational organization should establish a planning matrix which will provide the connection between the strategic objectives and the corresponding measures or actions to implement them. These will require the identification of those responsible, the implementation schedule, the performance indicators as well as any monitoring and measurement.

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The EO’s Annual Activity Plan considers the recommendations inserted in the Annual Report.

The document is essential for the EQAVET implementation methodology since it provides us with an updated plan.

The document targets all internal and external interested parties.

This document is related to all the other documents that are referred to the EO’ activity, namely the Action Plan.

This document relates to ISO 21001 Clause:6.2 as it is an essential document for the planning of changes.

It is related to all the other documents that are referred to it.

This document also relates to ISO 21001 Clause:6.1.1, as it specifically has several items concerning the revision of activities, the institutional dialogue for the continuous improvement of the VET offer and the application of the continuous improvement cycle.

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