“We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.”

Emily Dickinson, American poet


Strategic Planning


Developing a Strategic Plan

Developing a Strategic Plan

The Adult Guidance Plan should form part of the over-arching Strategic Plan of the managing agent/education provider. Guidance plans and strategic plans in Further Education and Training will be informed by the publication:  Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019.  Please see:  Research and publications relevant to Further Education and Training can be found at the SOLAS link: The latest news and developments in the sector are also available on the main SOLAS website:


Adopting some of the tools of strategic planning can be most useful.  Such an approach may ensure that the Adult Guidance Plan reflects and mirrors the Strategic Plan for the managing agent/education provider and the key tenets of the Further Education and Training Strategy 2014-2019.

When developing a strategic plan, it is essential that aims and objectives are:   specific, measurable, realistic, with clear time frames, involve accountability and identify specific resources required. All of these areas ensure clarity of purpose, thus making the plan accessible to the range of people involved in delivering the various aspects of the plan.

Examples of what is meant by the above statements may include the following:-

  • Specific and without ambiguity so that it is clear what everyone needs to do. For example:  ‘Produce a promotional booklet’ is a more effective action than ’Improve marketing’;
  • Measurable so that it is clear when targets have or have not been achieved. An example of a measurable target might be that, ‘the Adult Educational Guidance Service will have met all NFQ Level 5 learners in the Medical and Caring Sector either in group session or ’one to one’ between September and April;
  • Realistic rather than aspirational:  for example, that a group of clients will have an understanding of ‘what progression means’ through group work using IT, with a resource such as CareersPortal, rather than a statement from the Guidance Service which aspires to inform clients about the importance of progression;
  • Have clear time frames for the completion of tasks;
  • Involve accountability, specifying who is responsible for each task (and signed off when completed);
  • Identify the specific resources required to fulfil the objectives and ensure that budgets are allocated to each area.



Plans are guidelines, not sets of rules. Focussed flexibility allows plans to be reviewed on a regular basis and amendments introduced if necessary.