Recognition of Prior Learning


RPL is based on the idea that we are not blank slates. Instead, we each have a wealth of life and work experiences that might be relevant to a qualification that we are studying.

RPL lets us give credit for the knowledge and skills that a person might have, meaning that they might not need to complete all parts of the qualification. It does not matter where or how you gained the knowledge/skills, as long as it is clearly linked to the Units of Competency from the Qualification.

RPL commonly involves:

  • Previous study – both formal (eg, TAFE, school) and informal (eg, community education, workplace training courses)
  • Work experience – both paid and unpaid
  • Life experience

As said before, it does not matter how or where the knowledge/skills were gained. What does matter is that the knowledge/skills can demonstrate your competency in the parts of the qualification that you are seeking credit for.

RPL can be granted for part of a qualification (in which case a Statement of Attainment might be issued to list the Units of Competency that were awarded) or for a full qualification.

Advising Candidates

We must let all candidates know that they have the right to apply for RPL or RCC. If they want to go down this path, then we are obliged to support them through this process. The best thing that we can do is to give them as much information as possible to help them to collect evidence that can support their claim. As with training & assessment pathways, there are many different methods of assessment that we can use. In all cases, we must provide support to the candidate to assist them in determining the best types of assessment that they could be using.

As with all assessment, it is essential that the evidence we collect meets the principles of assessment and the rules of evidence. Part of doing this involves us explaining to our candidate:

  • what are permissible forms of evidence
  • what competency standards will be assessed
  • what qualifications are available through these competency standards
  • how to appeal an unfavourable decision.

We should also make sure that our recognition assessment process is transparent and that our candidates clearly understand:

  • the intent of the assessment
  • exactly what will be assessed
  • how assessment will take place
  • what criteria will be used to judge performance.

The assessment tools that we use to support a recognition claim can contain a lot of useful information. We also tend to find that if the information is included with an actual assessment item, there is a better chance that it will actually get read. An example of a tool that contains the necessary information is provided here:

Multiple Sources of Evidence

Performance needs to be consistent over time and in a number of contexts, so this will need to be reflected in the range of assessment strategies selected.

Appropriate Assessment Methodologies: Methodologies using the evidence from the workplace are preferred, such as Portfolio of Evidence and Third Party Reports.

Candidates are to supply evidence of competency using the below strategies. Refer to the additional information supplied with the unit for specific recommended strategies.

Assessment Strategies for the Unit Handle and Transport Explosives

Direct - Observation
- Demonstration
- Simulations
- Role Play
Indirect- Work Samples
- Workplace Documents
- Third party reports (see below)
- Projects
- Portfolio of Evidence
Supplementary- Questioning
- Test
- Oral presentation
- Hypotheticals

A common way for a candidate to demonstrate RPL is to collect a portfolio of evidence to support their claim against a variety of competencies. Our candidate should be able to gather examples of direct evidence, which the assessor can easily evaluate.

What on earth is a Third Party Report?

In its simplest form, it is just another type of evidence that we can assess.

To answer this question, let’s look at an example.
”Sally has been working as a nurse for a long time. In that time, she gave lots of presentations to lots of other nurses. Sally comes to me and says that she wants to do the TAE, and wants to get as much RPL as possible. She tells me that she has done lots of training and that she is competent.
My challenge as the assessor is to advise Sally on the sorts of evidence that she could provide me so that I can make a judgement that she is indeed competent. So, I ask her to submit some session plans, and maybe some feedback forms from some participants, and also a couple of the resources that she used. They are all things that I can use.
The other thing I ask her to do is to get someone who was there to write a statement to say that she did conduct some training and to comment about the standard of the training. This would be an example of a Third Party Report.”

Sally is the “first party”. I am the “second party”. A “third party” is anyone else who can provide us with some information that we can use.

In this course, we have templates that you can use to give those people. But, templates do not have to be used. Instead, you can ask someone to write a reference for you. The important thing is that it has their full name and contact details and signature. The reason for the contact details is so that we can give them a call if we want to clarify anything that they might have said.

Third Party Reports are rarely sufficient by themselves. But, they do fit nicely in a portfolio of evidence.

ASQA provide the following Fact Sheet on the use of Third Party Reports (Link). This helps RTOs and students to understand the requirements of providing quality evidence.

Recognition Affects Delivery

If a candidate can demonstrate their competency then they really do not need to learn how to do that thing. This means that we might need to change our delivery plan to reflect what the learner can and cannot do, instead of presuming that they cannot do anything.

Commonly, the sorts of changes that we will need to make include:

  • adjusting timelines
  • omitting some content/skills
  • allowing some individuals to miss some sessions
  • creating learning situations where different learners can be learning different things, but at the same time.

Because any of these changes can affect the workplace, it is important to discuss RPL and RCC with other people, including:

  • supervisors
  • other candidates (who may not understand what is going on and accuse us of favouritism)
  • candidates
  • other trainers/assessors

If our candidate is claiming recognition for current competency, real examples of current work are often used, as these will satisfy the currency requirement for evidence.

Information in this section relates to:
Section 5 of Short Answer Question 3