Plar Policy
Europe: United Kingdom

Assessment of Prior Learning: Making Experience Count [videorecording]. (1992) J. Storan, Producer. Thames Valley Enterprises.

This training video is a unique introduction to APL, highlighting the ways in which it has been applied in a variety of different contexts. The video covers a range of vocational and educational qualifications. The key stages of APL are clearly described as well as the advantages for individuals, education and training providers and employers.

Bailie, S. H. (1998) "Systems of APEL: A Six Point Typology." In Strategic Models of Lifelong Learning: The Method of APEL. Ed. Bailie, S.H. and O'Hagan, C. Belfast, 27 - 35.

Bailie, S., Velia O'Hagan, and Gerry McAleavy (November 1998). Bridging the Gap between Formal and Informal Learning-Accrediting Prior Experiential Learning in Higher Education (University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Northern Ireland-Internet conference paper) [Online]. Available: 

Higher education is not exempt from the rapidly changing climate of modern times and evaluations such as the latest review of higher education in the United Kingdom. Changes, including easier access and greater opportunities in higher education are beginning to affect the learning culture, learning organizations and employment markets across the province and indeed the rest of Europe. This paper aims to demonstrate how APEL may be used in various ways by institutions and learners by including new tolls for assessment and flexible approaches to accreditation. A six-point typology will be presented as a set of methodologies for APEL in higher education. Each method will be explored against traditional models of APEL practice in the UK whilst corresponding to other international approaches.

Baker, Barry R. (1991) "MCI Management Competencies and APL: The Way Forward for Management Education, Training and Development?" Journal of European Industrial Training 15(9), 17-26.

Document Type: journal article; position paper. Examines assumptions about Britain's Management Charter Initiative (MCI) -- a competency-based approach to management education. Explores delegate motivation, significant in the process of accrediting prior learning. Descriptors: Administrator Characteristics; Administrator Education; Adult Education; Certification; Competency Based Education; Credentials; Foreign Countries; Formative Evaluation; Management Development; Minimum Competencies; Prior Learning; Training. Identifiers: Great Britain; Management Charter Initiative. ISSN: 0309-0590.

Banks, Sarah. (October 1993) "Accrediting Prior Learning for a Professional Qualification: Lessons from Community Work." Adults Learning (England) 5(2), 39-41. 

Document Type: position paper; journal article. An accreditation program for community workers uses accreditation of prior learning (APL) as a means of awarding full professional qualifications in community work. However, APL may be waning in the context of professional higher education. Descriptors: Credits; Employment Qualifications; Extension Education; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Prior Learning; Professional Education; Public Service. Identifiers: Great Britain. ISSN: 0955-2308.

Butler, Linda. (1993) "The Assessment of Prior Learning: Relating Experience, Competence, and Knowledge." In Disaffection and Diversity: Overcoming Barriers for Adult Learners. Ed. Judith Calder. Bristol, PA: Falmer Press, 159-169.

In this chapter, which looks at relating experience, vocational competence, and academic knowledge to accreditation through the process known as the Assessment of Prior Learning or APL, the tone and purpose is pragmatic rather than philosophical. The chapter covers what the Assessment of Prior Learning is, how it is done and how far practice is established. It also covers how far, if at all, APL offers new ways and means for adults to obtain credible recognition for what they have learned outside formal education and training. This issue is addressed specifically in relation to women's access to accreditation. ISBN: 0-75050-117-X; ISBN (paperback): 0-75050-118-8.

Day, M., and C. Edwards. (1998) The Factors which May Enhance or Inhibit the Use of Occupational Standards as a Complement to the Continuing Professional Development of Health Care Practitioners. Leeds: National Health Service Executive.

Within the National Health Service (NHS) purchasers of education and training are concerned with determining an effective and economic means of developing practitioners to a standard that is acceptable to managers, patients and other users of the service. To this end the National Health Service Executive (NHSE) are encouraging the use of occupational standards from NVQs within continuing education programmes, in the belief that practitioners will be able to demonstrate fitness for purpose, as well as fitness for practice. This approach is controversial, and has met with resistance from statutory and professional bodies. This qualitative study, commissioned by the NHSE, identifies the factors which may enhance or inhibit the use of occupational standards within continuing professional education, and makes recommendations for programme development within NHS Trusts. Semi-structured interviews with education advisers, course leaders and health care managers revealed a typology of beliefs and opinions regarding the use of occupational standards in continuing education programmes. This typology was confirmed by a subsequent survey with interview participants, and a series of workshops held with health care practitioners. The survey with interview participants also identified factors which might enhance or inhibit the implementation of competence based curricular. These factors were used as underpinning principles to evaluate a competence based continuing education programme within an NHS Trust. The results of this evaluation revealed an "implementation gap", which identified some difference between the policy and practice of workplace assessment. This gap is explained by the need for NHS staff to fulfil the professional requirements of their work, which has priority over the technical requirements of workplace assessment. Although the study demonstrates that the programme under evaluation was successful from the employers' point of view, it concludes that the use of occupational standards in continuing professional education may be problematic, as they may not reflect the language and culture that currently exists within the NHS.

Doyle, Mike, and Iain Jones. (June 1995) "Moving APL From the Margins to the Mainstream: Developing a Model of Policy and Practice." Adults Learning 6(10): 291-292.

Evans, Norman. (1992) Experiential Learning: Its Assessment and Accreditation. New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall.

230 pages. Document Type: book. This book explores in detail the ways in which the assessment and accreditation of prior and current experiential learning are being practiced in higher education, further education, community and voluntary provision, training organizations and employment, provision for the unemployed, and updating and retraining. It is arranged in three parts. Part I is an account of the author's involvement in the development of the overall field of assessment of prior experiential learning (APEL) in Britain during the 1980s. It shows how APEL has progressed over 10 years into a day-to-day concern for policymakers and providers of formal courses and training and development programs in many sectors. Part II is an account of the developments in APEL at the end of the decade in higher education and further education. This part gives an insight into how APEL can be used with other economic and social developments to improve the organization and provision of opportunities for learning at the postsecondary stage. Part III uses what has been learned experientially as a launching pad for ideas about future developments. This part looks at underlying tensions, postindustrial training, and access as a two-way street. Appendixes include endnotes by chapter, a 50-item selected reading list, and an index. Descriptors: Adult Education; Educational Certificates; Educational Development; Evaluation Methods; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Postsecondary Education; Prior Learning; Student Certification; Vocational Education. Identifiers: Great Britain.

Evans, Norman. (May 1983) Curriculum Opportunity: A Map of Experiential Learning in Entry Requirements to Higher and Further Education Award Bearing Courses. A Project Report. London, Eng.: Further Education Unit.

98 pages. Document Type: research report. A study examined the policies and practices that higher educational institutions in the United Kingdom have adopted towards experiential learning as a means of fulfilling entrance requirements. Included among the major activities of the project were a comparative analysis of United Kingdom and United States policies and practices with respect to experiential learning and admission into degree programs; a review of the rules and regulations pertaining to admission into degree-awarding higher and continuing educational programs in the United Kingdom; and a survey regarding current policies towards experiential learning that was completed by 177 representatives from various polytechnics, colleges, and institutes of higher learning throughout the United Kingdom. Based on the survey and follow-up interviews, the author of the study concluded that, contrary to belief, most of those contacted do not regularly carry out assessment of experiential learning. Because he found surprisingly few examples of a systematic approach to the assessment of experiential learning, the researcher recommended the establishment of national as well as institutional policies in the area of experiential learning. In addition, he called for regional consortia, expanded educational brokerage services, and pilot schemes to develop and evaluate strategies for the more widespread consideration of experiential learning when evaluating candidates who are applying for admission into degree-granting higher educational programs. Descriptors: Admission Criteria; Certification; College Admission; College Credits; Comparative Analysis; Educational Certificates; Educational Policy; Educational Practices; Experiential Learning; Higher Education; National Surveys; Needs Assessment; Prerequisites; Prior Learning; Program Implementation; Questionnaires; State of the Art Reviews; Student Evaluation; Trend Analysis Identifiers: United Kingdom; United States. Report No: ISBN-0-946469-25-3.

Evans, Norman and Gerald Dearden. (No date) Curriculum Opportunity; AP(E)L in Higher Education.  The Learning From Experience Trust.

It is hoped that Curriculum Opportunity; AP(E)L in Higher Education will be useful to academic and administrative staff who are concerned with Credit Accumulation and Transfer and the Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning.  Based on a sample of nearly 800 students, the authors conducted an inquiry across nine universities to find out who were the students who gained graduate or post graduate qualifications in either 1992 or 1993 in part on the basis of academic credit for prior experiential learning.  How old were they? How did the numbers compare for men and women? What were their occupations? What was the source of their credit? How much credit were they awarded? What did they study? What results did they achieve? Those were the questions asked.  The answers in no way amount to a reliable statistical analysis for reasons which the report makes clear. It does however give solid evidence for the firs time which spans a number of different institutions, raises important questions about institutional record keeping, the status and level of post experience and post graduate qualifications and the need to extend this kind of survey

Further Education Unit. (1992) The Assessment of Prior Learning and Learner Services. London, Eng.: Further Education Unit.

78 pages. Document Type: non-classroom material. Target Audience: Practitioners. This guide was developed in Great Britain to help colleges develop programs for assessment of prior learning (APL) for adult students. (APL involves careers and educational guidance, access to particular courses despite possible lack of traditional certification, accreditation, formal credit toward a particular qualification, and exemption from course requirements.) The guide is organized in five sections. The first section defines APL and gives some examples of APL in practice. Sections 2 and 3 describe the decisions required of senior and middle managers responsible for strategic planning and resource management. Action planning, use of staff time, and determining cost effectiveness are discussed. Sections 4 and 5 provide guidance to managers of program teams and the teams involved in staff and curriculum development. Issues involved include curriculum requirements, practices in other institutions, off-site evaluation programs, staff development for all staff, and creating networking arrangements with other colleges and employers. Appendixes, about one-third of the document, include graphs showing APL and efficiency gain, a college audit questionnaire, information on APL and student services, a flowchart for student information and student services in APL, a chart of stages in the APL process, and a summary of the process in accrediting prior learning. Descriptors: Academic Records; Adult Students; College Credits; College Programs; Degree Requirements; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Prior Learning; Program Development; Student Evaluation. Identifiers: Great Britain. ISBN: 1-85338-242-6.

Further Education Unit. (January 1989) Assessment, Accreditation and Certification. Two-Year Youth Training Schemes. An Evaluation of LEA Modular Programmes. No. 6. London, Eng.: Further Education Unit. 

7 pages. Document Type: project description; evaluative report. This bulletin is the sixth in a series that provides information on a collaborative project known as MainFrame to develop youth training programs in Great Britain. It describes the assessment procedures used in the youth training programs and examines project progress toward its main objective--the development of a unit credit transfer system--and its relationship to national developments on certification. The bulletin is organized in three sections. The section on assessment describes the Training Inventory form on which is recorded trainee progress, as well as on-the-job and off-the-job training assessment. Next, a section on accreditation focuses on development of a package to accredit trainees for their prior learning and establishment of a unit credit transfer system. The section on certification discusses attempts at articulation with existing schemes to achieve the aim of offering "credible certification" through a unit credit transfer system. A concluding commentary critiques the project's achievements, especially as regards investment of resources. Sample forms are provided. Descriptors: Credits; Foreign Countries; Job Training; Postsecondary Education; Prior Learning; Program Development; Secondary Education; Student Certification; Student Evaluation; Transfer Policy; Transfer Programs; Youth Programs. Identifiers: Great Britain; Youth Training Scheme. Report No: ISBN-1-85338-098-7.

Further Education Unit. (1989) Implications of Competence Based Curricula. London: Further Education Unit.

Geoghegan, Bridget. (Jan./Feb. 1995) "Credit Where Credit is Due." Business Education Today, 12-13.

Describes how to gain an NVQ by Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL). Descriptors: National Vocational Qualifications; Portfolios (Background Materials). Identifiers: Accreditation of Prior Learning.

Gorringe, Richard. (1989) "Accreditation of Prior Learning Achievements: Developments in Britain and Lessons from the USA." Coombe Lodge Report 21(5).

47 pages. Document Type: serial. This report describes developments in Britain and the United States which enable people to use, in an education or training context, components of their achievements drawn directly from their prior experience. The report is divided into three sections. The first section consists of an account of the present situation in Britain concerning further education of adult learners; the second section offers an account of some American developments in this area; and the final section offers comments on possible applicability of these developments in Britain. The credit awarding process in the United States for prior learning from life experience, usually involving the development of a portfolio, is described. Models of portfolio preparation are highlighted from the Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey, New York's Empire State College and the State University of New York, Brockport; and the University of Maryland. The idea of accrediting prior learning through examination, the possible use of college-level examinations in Britain, and the use of course evaluation and articulation are discussed, as is the development of institutional consortia to provide links between community groups and educational institutions. Descriptors: Adult Education; Adult Learning; Adult Students; Articulation (Education); Continuing Education; Credits; Degrees (Academic); Demonstration Programs; Educational Planning; Equivalency Tests; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Lifelong Learning; Nontraditional Students; Portfolios (Background Materials); Postsecondary Education; Program Development; Reentry Students. Identifiers: United Kingdom; United States. ISSN: 0305-8441.

Hodgkinson, Linda. (1996) Changing the Higher Education Curriculum-Towards a Systematic Approach to Skills Development (Vocational Qualifications Centre, The Open University). Cambridge: The Burlington Press. 

The report presents the findings of a two-year project which was set up to determine the extent to which, and how, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) framework of core skills could be embedded within the higher education curriculum,, and funded by the (then) Employment Department. 

Isabelle, R. (April 1994) "APL in the UK." In Prior Learning Assessment in Canada: Report on a Survey Conducted for Human Resources Development Canada. Robert Isabelle and Associates, Education Consultants, Inc. Ottawa: Human Resources Development Canada.

Isabelle, Robert. (May 1989) A Quiet Revolution in the United Kingdom: New Vocational Training and Qualification Systems Based on Competencies. Mission Report. Translation from French by K. David Brody. Montreal: Fédération des cégeps.

Learning From Experience Trust. (1995) The Potential of the Assessment of Experiential Learning in Universities. Chelmsford, UK: Learning From Experience Trust.

This Deparment of Employment-funded project focused on four universities to develop and test ways to use the assessment of prior learning as a means to recognise the suitability of applicants to degree studies and, where appropriate, for admission with advanced standing.  The aim of the work was to promote and increase the range of people entering universities at a later stage in their working life or without the traditional entry qualifications.  The universities involved in the project were Goldsmith's College and the Universities of Kent, Nottingham and Warwick.  A brief project report and guidelines on the assessment of experiential learning in university admission processes has been produced in the light of lessons learned from the project.

Learning From Experience Trust. (No date) AP(E)L Activities 1980-1993. Chelmsford, UK: Learning From Experience Trust.

This publication highlights the development of the Assessment of Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L) from early research work at the Policy Studies Institute since 1980, through to the activities of the Learning from Experience Trust (LET) which, since its foundation in 1986, has been working to promote the theory and practice of AP(E)L in Britain.

Llewellin, Nick, and John Newman. (1990) "Accreditation of Prior Learning: The Foundation Stone of NVQ Delivery." In National Vocational Qualifications and Further Education. Eds. Mike Bees and Madeleine Swords. London: Kogan Page in association with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications. 200-216. 

Accreditation of prior learning is a method of assessment that involves identifying acceptable evidence of an individual's past achievements and matching these with the competence requirements of an NVQ. This chapter looks at a general model of the APL process and goes on to outline Newport and Crosskeys College's approach to APL in the context of a national project to examine APL and to identify factors influencing its effectiveness. Descriptors: Further Education; National Vocational Qualifications; Competence; Prior Learning; Credits. Identifiers: Accreditation of Prior Learning.

Management Charter Initiative. (1992) "Report of the Project to Develop and Pilot Test the Accreditation of Prior Learning for Experienced Managers." In Embedding Accreditation of Prior Learning, Competence, and Assessment. Ed. Susan Simosko. Briefing Series No. 7. London: Employment Department.

Manpower Services Commission. (1988) Credit Where Credit's Due: The Report of the Accreditation of Work-Based Learning Project(s). Glasgow: Scottish Vocational Education Council.

National Council for Vocational Qualifications. (1990) Assessment of Prior Learning in the Context of National Vocational Qualifications. Research and Development Report No. 7. London: NCVQ.

O'Grady, Martin J. (September 1991) "Assessment of Prior Achievement/Assessment of Prior Learning: Issues of Assessment and Accreditation." Vocational Aspect of Education 43(115), 183-189.

Document Type: journal article; position paper. A model for assessing/ accrediting prior learning for the Achievement of National Vocational Qualifications in Britain uses five evidence factors (authenticity, retention, relevance, quantity, and variety), assigns values to the factors, and assesses the resulting value patterns. Descriptors (major): Certification; Evaluation Criteria; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning; Vocational Education; (minor): Evaluation Methods; Foreign Countries.

Paczuska, A., and Randall, J. (1996) "Using Learning from Work for Progression to Higher Education: A Degree of Experience." Journal of Vocational Education and Training: The Vocational Aspect of Education 48(4), 385-92.

Document Type: project description; journal article. The Degree of Experience is a program for accrediting prior learning (APL) at a London university. Advantages for students lacking entry qualifications include admission criteria stated in terms of skills, knowledge, and ability (SKA) rather than credentials; accurate SKA profiles for diagnosing weaknesses; and integration of APL into admissions procedures. Descriptors: Admission Criteria; Credentials; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Prior Learning; Student Recruitment. Identifiers: South Bank University (England).

Paczuska A., and I. Turner. (1998) "Records of Achievement in Higher Education: Aims and Outcomes". In Strategic Models of Lifelong Learning: The Method of APEL. Ed. Bailie, S.H. and O'Hagan, C. Belfast.

Perker, Henriette, and others. (1994) Identification et validation des savoir-faire et des connaissances acquises dans la vie et les experiences de travail. Rapport comparatif France/Royaume. Identification and Accreditation of Skills and Knowledge Acquired through Life and Work Experience. Comparative Report of Practice in France and the United Kingdom. First Edition. Berlin: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.

65 pages. Document Type: research report; multilingual/ bilingual materials. In France and the United Kingdom (UK), procedures have been devised to allow the skills and knowledge acquired through life and work experience to be identified and accredited. In France, achievements from social and working life are identified in two ways: the personal and occupational competencies of workers are evaluated through a "bilan de competences" (competence audit) and experiential achievements can be accredited for the award of a diploma or credit toward a diploma. In the UK, these processes are referred to as the accreditation of prior learning (APL) or the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL). In France, the law determines the procedures for the audit. In the UK, the APL for vocational qualifications differs from the identification of achievement, since its purpose is to lead to the award of a vocational certificate or diploma. The legal basis for the accreditation in France is a law; no special legislation is necessary in the UK. In France, the composition of the dossier is specified by law. No fixed format for the portfolio is mandated in the UK. In France, the process is expected to be free; in the UK, candidate fees finance it. In both countries, the major partners in APL within higher education are the institutions of higher education. Again, the means by which accreditation is claimed is by preparation of a dossier in France (always) or a portfolio in the UK (usually). (A bibliography list 12 French and 13 English resources. A French language version of the report precedes the English version.) Descriptors: Adult Education; College Credits; Comparative Analysis; Educational Certificates; Educational Legislation; Educational Policy; Experiential Learning; Foreign Countries; Higher Education; Job Skills; Lifelong Learning; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning; Student Certification; Vocational Education. Identifiers: France; United Kingdom.

Pettitt, Aidan. (1996) "Adults and GNVQs." Developing Further Education (Further Education Development Agency Report) 1(4).

59 pages. Document Type: research report. Target Audience: Practitioners. This document is intended for further education colleges in the United Kingdom wishing to extend their General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) provision to adults, extend their adult students' options for accreditation, or review the suitability of different qualification routes for adults. It presents information about the development of GNVQ delivery for adult students that was gathered during a 1994 study of the feasibility of offering GNVQs to students aged 19 years or older who are not interested in pursuing higher education. Presented first are brief overviews of the various government-approved certification methods and the research project on which this document is based. In the next two sections, reasons for offering GNVQs to adults are examined and GNVQs are compared with other qualifications. Strategies for marketing GNVQs to adults and recruiting adults to GNVQs are examined in section 4, and guidelines for organizing GNVQ provision for adults are provided in section 5. Section 6 discusses selected aspects of designing GNVQ learning programs (induction programs, teaching strategies, core skills, assessment, course teams, and evaluation). Concluding the document are a brief conclusion, information about the Further Education Development Agency's (FEDA) GNVQ support program for 1996-97, a list of related FEDA publications, and a glossary. Descriptors: Adult Education; Adult Programs; Adult Students; Curriculum Development; Delivery Systems; Educational Demand; Educational Needs; Feasibility Studies; Foreign Countries; Noncollege Bound Students; Postsecondary Education; Prior Learning; Program Development; Reentry Students; Student Certification; Student Recruitment; Technical Institutes; Vocational Education. Identifiers: Educational Marketing; General National Vocational Qualif (England). ISSN: 1361-9969.

Royal Society of Arts. (1991) Accreditation of Prior Achievement. Coventry, Eng.: Royal Society of Arts Examination Board.

Scottish Vocational Education Council. (1992) Flexibility in Assessment: The Report of the Accreditation of Prior Learning II Project. Glasgow: SCOTVEC.

Smith, Vernon, and others. (1990) Drawing on Experience. REPLAN Projects Review. London and Leicester, Eng.: Further Education Unit, and National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

99 pages. Document Type: research report. This document reports good practice as learned in Britain's FEU (Further Education Unit) and NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) programs aimed at providing educational opportunities for unemployed adults. Section 7 deals with assessment, accreditation, and progression, including portfolios, prior learning, experience in continuing and higher education, experience in informal and community contexts, and transition and progression. The document concludes with descriptions of the 75 projects reviewed. Descriptors: Access to Education; Adult Education; Adult Programs; Articulation (Education); Community Resources; Cooperation; Cooperative Programs; Counseling Services; Curriculum Design; Dislocated Workers; Extension Education; Foreign Countries; Independent Study; Institutional Cooperation; Needs Assessment; Open Education; Outreach Programs; Portfolios (Background Materials); Prior Learning; Unemployment Identifiers: Great Britain. A publication of the REPLAN Programme. Sponsoring Agency: Department of Education and Science, London (England).; Training Agency, London (England).

South East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer. (1996) SEEC Code of Practice for the Assessment of Prior (Experiential) Learning. Chelmsford, Eng.: South East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer.

South East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer. (1994) SEEC Credit Guidelines, Models, and Protocols. Chelmsford, Eng.: South East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer.

Storan, J. (1998) "APEL: From Margins to Mainstream." In Strategic Models of Lifelong Learning: The Method of APEL. Ed. Bailie, S.H. and O'Hagan, C. Belfast, 20 - 26.

Storan, J., ed. (1996) Getting to the Core of APEL: Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning: Issue and Practice. Chelmsford, Eng.: South East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer. [Collection of papers from SEEC's APEL Network Meetings]

Storan, J. (1994) Assessment of Prior Learning Software Evaluation. London: South Bank University and The National Council for Educational Technology.

Storan, J. (1988) Making Experience Count. London: Learning From Experience Trust.

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