The ‘ToPPERS’ framework of effective teaching principles in prevocational education

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


The importance of lifelong learning in our constantly changing society – magnified by today’s crises – highlights the need for basic literacy and numeracy for all. Unfortunately, in Flanders, too many students do not achieve the minimum goals in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of grade 8. The lack of basic literacy is correlated with student’s individual characteristics such as home language, socio-economic status and maternal education.

In Flanders, the transition from primary to secondary education comes with a first important stage of tracking. 12-year-olds need to choose between a general track, keeping open several options for later tracking, or a prevocational track, a one-way ticket for vocational education. Students who didn’t achieve the obtained goals from primary education, and thus didn’t received a certificate of primary education, are directed towards prevocational education. This track is also followed by students who had difficulties and were too often hindered in their learning in primary education or lack sufficient reserve to start in the general track in secondary education. Prevocational education is often a negative choice. Classes in prevocational education are characterized by their diversity and increasing complexity.

In sum, teachers in prevocational education are challenged to design a powerful learning environment for the heterogenous group of struggling students to achieve the minimum goals of literacy and numeracy. With this study we aimed to unfold effective teaching principles to optimize and maximize the learning of these struggling 7th and 8th graders in the prevocational track in secondary education. What can teachers do to maximize the learning of prevocational students?
Period22 Aug 202326 Aug 2023
Event titleEARLI 2023: "Education as a Hope in Uncertain Times"
Event typeConference
LocationThessaloniki, Greece
Degree of RecognitionInternational