Recoginition of Prior Learning Policy and Process

Student Policy

Scope of Policy

You can apply Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to internally assessed parts of our qualifications (inclusive of those qualifications that have externally set themes/topics which are internally assessed) including those on the Regulated Qualifications Framework.

The use of recognition of prior learning is optional. But, if you choose to apply it, you need to have an internal policy on RPL and the proper resources to do so. You cannot use RPL for external assessment, set exams or set assignments.

Student Policy

What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?

RPL is about using a learner’s evidence of earlier learning and achievement towards part of a qualification. An assessor reviews whether the evidence is enough to show that a learner has met the assessment requirements for a current qualification. The learner needs to show that through knowledge, understanding or skills they already have, they do not need to repeat the course or complete extra assessment activity

If there is evidence that the learner has previously shown the knowledge, skills or understanding required by a qualification, this may be used towards achieving that qualification. The evidence must be:

  • valid;
  • current;
  • reliable;
  • authentic and
  •  sufficient.

RPL is not normally used to provide evidence against achievement for an entire qualification. This would be called an exemption and is usually used where a learner must gain a specified qualification for a particular purpose (for example, as an entry requirement for further study, employment or registration). If you or your learners think that they are entitled to an exemption, we recommend you refer to the organisation which has specified the original qualification requirement. If a particular qualification is specified as an entry requirement to a qualification offered by us, we will list any appropriate exemptions in our specification.

Applications for RPL must be carried out by staff who are competent to consider and make decisions about RPL.

Student Policy

Can Learners Use a Previously Achieved Certificate Towards a Qualification?

Occasionally we will map or give guidance to show shared content across units or qualifications. In these cases, a learner may use a previously achieved certificate as evidence without them having to repeat learning or assessment

If we have not mapped qualifications, you will need to map and check that the learners’ previous certificated achievement meets the current qualifications assessment criteria. It is important that you keep a record of the mapping so that we can confirm that it is valid. No extra assessment is needed if a learner’s previously achieved certificate or qualification meets the requirements of a whole unit.

Any part of a higher education award (carrying academic credit) which has been certificated by MHR

Where RPL is being used to determine if unit learning outcomes have been met on a Higher Education award, the maximum grade that the student can achieve for that unit will be a pass.

Student Policy

An Example of the RPL Process

Centre preparation

Check that you have staff with expertise to support and assure the RPL process.

Step 1: Awareness, information and guidance

  •  Before enrolling the learner, discuss with them the option of using RPL to claim units for some of their past learning or experience. If the learner is interested in this, you should explain to them:
    •  The process of claiming a unit using RPL.
    •  The support and guidance that is available.
    •  How long the process will take, how to appeal and any costs included.
  •  You should check that the evidence provided by the learner for RPL has been achieved before the start of their course of study.

Step 2: Pre assessment, gathering evidence and giving information

Register your learner as soon as they officially start to gather evidence.

  •  To help the learner in gathering evidence you could create an assessment plan or tracking document.
  • The evidence gathered needs to meet the standards of the unit, or part of a unit, that the evidence is being used for. Evidence from a learner’s past experience could include:
    •  Home or family life
    • Non-certificated education or learning
    • Paid work
    •  Community or voluntary work.

Step 3: Assessing and documenting evidence


  • Tell your Standards Verifier/External Examiner, before any monitoring activity starts, if you have applied RPL for any particular units or learners. Your Standards Verifier/External Examiner may include these in their sample.
  • The assessment strategy, where stated, for each qualification must also be followed.
  • Assessment as part of RPL is a structured process for gathering and reviewing evidence and making judgments about a learner’s past learning and experience in relation to unit standards. The Assessor may look at:
    •  Work experience records, validated by managers.
    • Past portfolios of evidence or essays made by the learner.
    • Reports validated as being the learner’s own unaided work.
    •  Expert witness testimonies.
    • Professional discussions.
  • New assignment briefs or tasks that have been created to fill any gaps in the learner’s work.
  • Standards Verifiers or External Examiners are not required to give feedback on an assignment brief or task if you choose to set one as part of RPL.
  • Evaluate all the evidence using the learning outcomes and assessment criteria from the qualification or unit being claimed. In assessing a unit using RPL the Assess or must be satisfied that the evidence from the learner meets the standard for all of the learning outcomes and assessment criteria.
  • If we have published assessment or grading criteria, you should review the evidence against all the criteria.
  • If you find gaps in the learner’s work through RPL, then you will need to use more assessment methods to create enough evidence to be able to award the learning outcome for the whole unit.

Documenting evidence

  • Evidence collected through the RPL process needs to be assessed and verified through the same quality assurance procedures that your centre uses for any other internal assessment methods.
  • Ensure records of assessment against prior learning are kept and are available for verification if requested.

Step 4: Outcomes of the RPL process

  • Once you’ve checked a learner’s evidence and made an assessment decision, it is important that feedback is given to the learner including the assessment decision and what options are available to the learner if you have decided not to award the unit or qualification.
  • You should check that the learner understands how they can appeal if they do not agree with the assessment decision.
  • If the learner wants to make a complaint they can do so
  • If we identify that all unit requirements have not been met, we will:
  • ask you to provide more evidence, or
  • ask the learner to complete the standard assessment requirements if they want to achieve the qualification.

Step 5:Claiming certificates

  • You can claim certificates once the quality assurance processes have been successfully completed using the standard procedures.
  • After certification, you need to keep the assessment and internal verification records, along with any extra RPL records for three years.

Step 6: Appeals

  • If a learner wants to appeal against a decision made about their assessment they first need to follow your centre’s policy and procedures and then our Enquiries and Appeals about MHR qualifications policy.
Student Policy

Feedback and Complaints Process

We welcome your feedback, which helps us to improve the products and services we provide. We know that sometimes things go wrong, but if they do, we want to try to stop them from happening again. If you’d like to give us your feedback or you’re unhappy with the service you can contact us via the MHR Support Portal