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Recognition of Prior Learning policy
PBA’s policy is to recognise prior learning as a method of assessing whether a learner’s experience and achievements meet the evidence requirements (i.e. the standard) of a qualifying Unit or Units and which may or may not have been developed through a course of learning. The following questions and answers have been prepared to explain PBA’s policy on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
Is the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) new?
It is new in the sense that this is the first time PBA has had a policy statement specifically relating to the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). However, other terms have been used in the past to refer to very similar concepts, for example, Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).
What types of prior learning may be used in the assessment of Units?
PBA recognises that learners gain knowledge and skills acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning contexts. Formal learning is learning certificated by a recognised awarding or professional body; Non-formal learning includes learning such as employer's in-house training courses, which may or may not be assessed and/or certificated; finally, Informal learning is learning based on experience from a variety of environments which is not formally assessed.
How closely should a learner’s evidence of their prior learning and experience match the requirements of a Unit?
Evidence to support prior learning assessment decisions must be valid, reliable and of equal rigour to the standard assessment of the Unit(s) concerned. This means that the evidence should broadly match the evidence requirements specified in the Unit and reflect the QCF or RQF level and credit value attached to the Unit.
Can the Recognition of Prior Learning be used to assess partial Units?
The recognition of prior learning may be used to assess complete or partial Units. Where evidence of prior learning only partially meets the evidence requirements of a Unit, other methods of assessment should be used to complete the outstanding requirements. The minimum level of awarding and certification will be a completed Unit(s).
Can previously attained qualifications be used as evidence of prior learning?
Previously attained qualifications may be used as evidence of prior learning as long as they have been awarded by a recognised awarding body or professional body. It is our responsibility to ensure that the content, level of demand and assessment approach of the prior attained qualification broadly matches the evidence requirements specified in the Unit(s).
A qualifications certificate on its own is unlikely to be sufficient evidence for assessment and verification purposes. This should be supported by module descriptors or equivalent which provides information on the level, demand, content and assessment of the previously attained qualification.
Is there a different quality assurance approach for the Recognition of Prior Learning?
The assessment of prior learning is subject to the same internal verification as other methods of assessment. PBA will also adopt the same approach to quality assurance as any other method of assessment. Appeals from learners will follow the same process applicable to standard assessment of the Unit(s) concerned.
How current does a learner’s evidence of prior learning or experience have to be?
Evidence to support prior learning decisions needs to ensure the currency of the learner’s knowledge, skills and achievement within the context of the Unit(s) being assessed. PBA does not set a general time limit for the currency of evidence of prior learning or experience as currency is likely to differ depending on the sector. Supplementary questioning may be undertaken by assessors in order to ascertain the currency of a learner’s prior learning or experience.
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