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Quality Assuring the RARPA process

What is RARPA?

RARPA (Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement) is the process to measure the progress and achievement of learners on non-accredited learning programmes.

Why is it essential to quality assure the RARPA process?

The introduction of study programmes has given providers the flexibility to develop individualised, non-accredited learning programmes. This is a very welcome move for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.  However, just as with externally accredited provision which is subject to the external scrutiny and verification processes of awarding bodies, non-qualification provision should be quality assured.  Quality assuring the RARPA process gives inspectors, commissioners, and providers themselves the confidence that their non-qualification provision is of high quality and is helping learners achieve ambitious outcomes.

Resources to quality assure the RARPA process

This Guidance is the key document. It contains information and templates that will help you to carry out an internal review, an external check and to embed the review into your quality assurance processes. It includes:

  • the standards, criteria and types of evidence that need to be produced.
  • sets of questions to ask when reviewing the RARPA process
  • an action plan proforma for  reviewing your own RARPA processs in line with the quality assurance standards and criteria
  • a template to record findings, of your internal review including the  strengths and gaps to be addressed
  • an external check template.
Introducing the RARPA process

The following resources are some examples of documents produced by Sector Leaders as part of project to develop staff skills in quality assuring the RARPA process.

A quick reminder guide to the main principles of RARPA

Derwen College has produced a one page ‘quick reminder’ of the RARPA principles and the key questions that you need to ask.

Kirklees Adult Education has produced a simple, colourful roadmap for students to check that they and their tutors are following through all 5 RARPA stages.

John Dewey created a staff handbook that customises the RARPA guidance for their organisation

Thornbeck College has produced a visual map showing the evidence sources and actions staff need to take at each stage and how the learner should be involved 

Carrying out a review of provision - examples of review reports and the outcomes of the review process

These internal reviews by FE, ACL, WBL and ISCs are examples of how the review process can be useful in clarifying what is working well in an organisation and what needs to be improved. (Note these reports used an early version of the standards and criteria which have subsequently been refined and streamlined):

Providers may focus only on one standard and/or section of provision.

Strathmore College has used the Guidance to create their own self-assessment template for Stage 4 – Recognition and Recording of Progress and Achievement during the programme (formative assessment):

Approaches to staff self-evaluation

As part of the review process, providers developed approaches to assist staff to evaluate their own practice. Here are four examples that used different methods, appropriate to their context.

Anne Sykes of Kirklees Council ACL used a ‘dartboard’ for sessional staff to plot how evident the 5 stages of the RARPA process were in their practice.

Cecilia Brindle of ACL Essex used a web based survey.

Michelle Kerridge of In Touch Care developed two questionnaires to enable staff and managers to self evaluate their initial assessment process

Pete Vickers of Pennine College held a training event to help staff evaluate their practice. He also developed a ‘health check’ questionnaire that was intended as a fun way of gathering evaluative feedback from staff.

Roger Dill Russell developed a detailed questionnaire and asked staff to rate how effectively they met the standards and criteria and the evidence for it.

Caro Birtles of Ruskin Mill College describes an approach she developed to help staff reflect on their practice.

Anne Hooper from Springboard produced a staff self evaluation template for RARPA standard 2 initial assessment that includes questions to ask to ensure that the evidence is adequate and robust.

External check by review report template including guidance on how to complete it.

Here are two anonymised completed external check forms.  Please note these reports are based on an early version of the standards and criteria which have subsequently been refined and streamlined. The current report form has also been slightly updated, including some of the terminology used to describe the external check process.

Tools to support the RARPA quality assurance process

For learners to use:

  • A peer assessment form for learners to record the outcome of peer assessment produced by North Lincolnshire Council.
  • Weston College has produced a RARPA photographic evidence sheet that enables learners to record what they have done, the skills being developed and what they are working towards .
  • Today my work has been.... Derby Adult Learning Service has created a very simple sheet with images for learners to record instant feedback on their experience of a session. This could also be presented is card format.

For staff to use:

Pennine College used an observation of learning proforma to confirm that relevant RARPA criteria are adhered to in the observed lesson.

Lewisham Southwark College have used an ILP moderation checklist to ensure that appropriate targets are in place and progress is being monitored

First Place training has produced a set of documents staff and learners to use for learner reviews and for staff to use in the observation of learner reviews. These include:


Individual Learning Plans for staff and students

ILPs are central to the RARPA process that puts and keeps the learner at its heart. Some examples here show full ILPs and others give extracts.

Staff development approaches

Carrying out a review led providers to develop staff development tools and approaches.

Pete Vickers of Pennine College has produced a description of an assessment process (Stage 2 of the RARPA process) genuinely based on individual student observation rather than following a formulaic process.

The Mount Camphill Community and College, specialist residential community, produced a questionnaire to encourage individual tutors to reflect on their own practice in relation to RARPA.

In Touch Care produced a powerpoint presentation to be used for staff when developing learner reviews.

Code of Practice Quality Assurance Framework for RARPA in non-accredited learning

This Code of Practice, developed during an early stage of the RARPA project, establishes a common set of recommended threshold standards for supporting progression and quality assuring education and training provision for students/trainees with learning difficulties and disabilities. The document includes a one page proforma for organisations to customise.


Resources for regional coordinating organisations

Training resources for external check by peer review

The documents in this zip file are intended for use by regional coordinating organisations (currently the CETTs) to support trainers from these organisations to plan and deliver training in carrying out external checks by peer review as step 1 of the RARPA external quality assurance process.

Training resources list

  • Ha Details of preparatory work for workshop participants.
  • Hb Workshop agenda for participants (for customising) .
  • Hc Slides for workshop (inc. trainer notes)
  • Hd Workshop agenda  (inc. trainer guidance) .
  • He Evaluation form .
  • H1 Task: using internal review to inform external check .
  • H2 3 stage peer review process .
  • H3 External check report template .
  • R1 Powerful questions.
  • R2 RARPA Guidance
  • R3 Two sample completed external check forms.


Guidance notes for Regional Co-ordinating Organisations

The two documents below provide Regional Co-ordinating Organisations with guidance on setting up and running the annual regional standardisation meeting and cross-region standardisation meeting which form steps 7 and 8 of the external quality assurance process.