AlphaPlus operates in all four of the home nations. In Wales we have been working with the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS), an executive body of the Welsh Assembly Government, on the development and implementation of the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW).
One of the great challenges of working in education across the UK is the impact of devolution. This results in the UK having a complex educational system, with some organisations having UK wide responsibilities, while others have a single country remit and yet others authority in two or three of the home nations. But, this structure also offers opportunities. One in particular, given that the social, economic and legal background of all four nations is broadly comparable, is that it enables ready comparisons to be made of the relative effectiveness of different approaches to similar educational concerns. Credit frameworks are a good example of this. The impetus to develop credit frameworks has come from the European Union as part of the aim of facilitating the free flow of labour within the Union. An essential element in achieving this goal is that there should be comparability of qualifications based upon frameworks describing the level and quantity of learning, all mapped to learning outcomes rather than teaching input or education duration as in many current systems. In the UK each home nation has developed a co-ordinated but unique response to this requirement.
The CQFW is unique in the UK because it embraces all types of learning within a common framework, recognising the different quality assurance measures adopted by different types of learning - as indicated in the ‘pillar diagram’. This brings in the vast range of education and training activity within and outside the regulatory and publicly funded arrangements, and allows, for the first time, comparison of achievements from different activities and recognition of full and partial completion of qualifications.
AlphaPlus is proud to be contributing to the development of the CQFW, having worked on two key enabling studies. The first piece of work was producing the ‘Delivering the Promise’ report that considered how to expand the reach of the CQFW and ensure that the framework was adopted using a sustainable, self supporting model. The second contribution which runs until March 2011 is a review of the use of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in achieving recognised qualifications within CQFW.
The ‘Delivering the Promise’ report considered the operational context for the CQFW and lead to the publication of the 2009-14 implementation plan entitled ‘Delivering the Promise’, endorsed by Jane Hutt, Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Welsh Assembly Government. The particular issues considered were:
• the impact and influence of policy and legislation in Wales and the UK
• the attitudes and opinions of learners, teachers, assessors and employers
• the development of new administrative systems and processes
• the use and impact of technology and standards
• developing technology, standards and practices outside the UK
The second piece of work looks specifically at whether RPL can be a cost effective method of boosting the achievement of regulated qualifications at levels 2 through 4, based on the learner journey in the diagram. Behind this lie certain economic drivers such as securing inward investment and helping industry sectors in transition - for example, supporting the move in aerospace from metal based to composite based structures.
Our research is considering a range of possible operational and funding models that may enable RPL to play a role in increased achievement of formal qualifications. The models are based on a review of European and wider international practice and on consultation with stakeholders across Wales.
We are excited to be so closely involved in the development and implementation of such an innovative approach to the recognition of learning and believe that it has the potential to greatly enhance learning opportunities in Wales.