Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)


Smart Academy recognises that some participants, who will come to them for training, will already posses the competencies required to complete sections of the course on offer or they may even posse the competencies to complete the entire course and are wishing formal recognition of these competencies.

Smart Academy offers all participants the opportunity to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Credit Transfer (CT) before the commencement of their course. 

To apply for RPL or CT simply download the RPL-CT Form from here

What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is the formal acknowledgment of competencies them maybe held as a result of formal or informal training, work experience and/or life skills. Smart Academy accepts that individuals may have gained competencies from many sources including but not limited to:
  • Courses/training programs undertaken in Australia 
  • Courses/training programs undertaken overseas 
  • Paid or unpaid work experience 
  • Community voluntary work and 
  • Life experience (e.g. travel, hobbies, home duties and caring duties) 

Credit Transfer

Credit transfer is where students have completed units of competence identical to those they are about to or currently enrolled in. The qualification may be from another Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and through a process of National Recognition Smart Academy will grant recognition of those units.

RPL and Credit Transfer for International Students

International students have additional considerations when applying for RPL or Credit Transfer. International students are advised that where this recognition is issued prior to the issue of a Visa, then the period of your Visa will be reduced to compensate. Where RPL is granted after the Visa has been issued, then Smart Academy is required to maintain full study load with supplementary materials and supervised study.

How Does RPL Work?

Each training course that leads to a nationally recognised qualification is made up of a series of units of competency. Each individual unit of competency in turn is broken down into a set of elements and its associated performance criteria that must be achieved before a participant can be deemed competent in that unit of competency.

In simpler terms the process of RPL involves the matching what a participant already knows and is able to do with the individual units of competency.

If a participant is able to show they have already attained the elements of competency for one or more units of competency they will gain an exemption from doing that individual unit or units and gain formal recognition of the skills and knowledge already completed.

In this way RPL enables participants to focus entirely on developing new skills and knowledge in other areas, rather than having to re-learning processes that they already know and can do.

The Benefits of RPL

If a participant can show they have attained all of the elements of competency for a unit of competency they will gain credit for that particular unit. Even if a participant is not successful in their claim for all of the elements and formal credit, the RPL process will still assist them by clarifying what relevant skills the participant does and does not possess – this will assist Smart Academy tailoring the course to the participant accordingly.

As an added benefit, the participant will, during the RPL process, assemble evidence of their achievements in the form of a permanent and portable record of their training competencies.

RPL Process Guide

The purpose of this RPL process guide is to assist individual participants to fulfill the recognition of prior learning criteria by:
  • Recognising the skills and knowledge which people have gained on the job and which are relevant to the course 
  • Recognising the skills and knowledge with people have gained in other context and which are relevant to the course 
  • Evaluating the skills and knowledge against the requirements for a formal qualification 
  • Evaluate the skills and knowledge against the industry standards 
  • Record the skills and knowledge in an easily understood format, which can be retained for future use 
To assist in making the whole RPL process clearer and more manageable it has been divided into various steps, as follows:
  1. Read the RPL Kit Information and attached qualification outlines that include a list of the competencies for each qualification. 
  2. Complete the Application for RPL/Credit Transfer Form 
  3. Select the units of competency to apply for RPL (complete the Portfolio Cover Sheet) 
  4. Submit your portfolio using the Portfolio Cover Sheet and the Portfolio of Evidence Form 
  5. Assessment of your Portfolio of Evidence by Smart Academy Assessors 
  6. Post Assessment report and guidance 
  7. Certification of granted Units (listed on final statement of attainment at completion of the course.) 
You should read the following information carefully and make sure that you are clear about the overall RPL process before commencing work on your portfolio of evidence. At all times during this process if you are unsure about any section you are working on, contact us at Smart Academy for assistance.

Preparing the Portfolio of Evidence

As you prepare your portfolio of evidence and work through the RPL process you will need to ask yourself the following three questions:
  1. What experience have I gained that has developed my knowledge and skills in Training and Assessment? 
  2. Which aspects of that experience are relevant to the assessment criteria of the individual units of competency? 
  3. How can I prove that I can meet the assessment criteria; what evidence am I able to present? 
The evidence that you produce will need to be:

  • Current, that is, within the last three years (for experience only) 
  • Valid, that is, actually proves your skills and knowledge meet the specified requirements in the unit of competency 
  • Authentic, that is, was really produced by you or relates to you 
  • Reliable, that is, includes a range of examples of evidence from a range of contexts and 
  • Sufficient, that is, covers all sections and points addressed in the tool. 

Types of Evidence 

Primary Evidence

Any evidence that you are able to provide as proof should be submitted as part of your application. It can include such items as work reports, testimonials, client file information and other examples, documentation relating to courses attended and so on. [All primary evidence submitted will be treated as confidential and returned after the completion of the RPL assessment].

Secondary Evidence

Evidence of whether you are able to meet the assessment criteria requirements can also be obtained by assessors through a variety of means including:
  • Oral or written questioning; 
  • Assignments; 
  • Observation of the participant at work or in a simulated situation. 
Secondary evidence may be obtained if you are not able to provide any primary evidence or if that evidence does not fully satisfy the assessment criteria of the unit of competency.

You should indicate in your application if they feel that it is able meet the assessment criteria, but cannot obtain primary evidence to support that claim. This is achieved by making a notation on the Portfolio of Evidence form.

Relevant Experience

You should consider the experience that you have gained in each of the following three categories that are listed below:
  • Work experience this may include paid and unpaid, full-time and part-time, etc 
  • Education and training this may include accredited and informal, training gained on-the-job, etc 
  • Life experience this may include leisure, recreation, hobbies, etc 
Any experience that has enabled you to develop knowledge and skills which relate to the assessment criteria of the units of competency should be considered as it may be relevant.

What matters is whether the knowledge and skills gained help you to meet the assessment criteria - not where or how they it was gained.

Completing unit applications

You should carefully consider the learning outcomes and assessment criteria for each of the units of competency you will be applying for. You may find your prior experience relates to more units of competency than you initially expected. Units of competency can be located at

When completing unit applications you will need to make sure that:
  • It is clear which learning outcomes are being claimed 
  • It is clear what evidence relates to which learning outcomes and assessment criteria 
  • The applications are clear, concise and without error 
  • The evidence is arranged systematically and clearly labeled. 
You may like to use either of the approaches outlined below as you work on your application.


The evidence presented must clearly relate to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria contained within the units of competency for the relevant qualification applied for.

In some cases one piece of evidence will be relevant to a number of assessment criteria or to a number of learning outcomes. Such a piece of evidence can be used to support a claim for a number of criteria or outcomes.

Three types of evidence can be submitted: direct, supplementary and indirect. Some examples of each are described below. 

Direct Evidence

Direct evidence shows your own work, for example:
  • Samples of your work – program or session plans, written reports, manuals or learning resource materials. 
  • Video tape or audio tape – A video tapes or audiotape of you demonstrating your skills. This could be used, for example, to show evidence that you have the necessary skills related to the qualification applied for.

Supplementary Evidence

Supplementary evidence is information about you, which is gathered from others. Some examples are provided below. 


These could be letters of reference from different employers or others who have worked with you in paid or unpaid work situations (e.g. in a community group).

Documents relating to courses

Evidence relating to any course which has enabled you to develop relevant skills and knowledge can be submitted – including short courses and courses that have been studied at work, or for interest.

The evidence may include certified copies of awards (e.g. certificate, diploma or bachelor), statements of results, or statements of attendance.

Statutory declarations

A statutory declaration is a written statement, which is signed in the presence of an authorized person. It is a legal document and there are penalties if the information is false. You could, for example submit a statutory declaration from a course or workshop leader to verify your attendance.

Prizes or awards

Prizes or awards that have been received 

Indirect Evidence

Indirect evidence is used when it is not possible or desirable for you to be assessed on your actual performance of tasks. E.g. role-play or simulations
  • If it is not possible to assess competence directly in a workplace, an artificial situation can be created which imitates workplace arrangements. 
  • In role-play you will be presented with a work situation. They are asked to take on a particular work role and to demonstrate particular skills. Role-play offers opportunities to assess a wide range of interpersonal skills and behaviour. 
  • In a simulation you are asked to complete a particular task.

Amount and Kind of Evidence

What kind of evidence should you include in your application for a unit of competency? How much should you include?

The answer to these questions should take into account the level of ‘risk’ associated with the unit of competency: low, medium, or high.

The level of risk is associated with the degree of risk involved if recognition is wrongly granted.
  • First, some units are more critical or more important than others are or they involve the interplay of a range of complex skills. 
  • Second, the level of risk increases as more learning outcomes or units of competency are claimed. Limited claims are considered to represent a lower risk because further training, and by extension, further assessment will take place before you are considered to have met the requirements of the course. 
As the level of risk increases the rigour of the assessment process must increase. This means:
  • Two assessors may be involved in the assessment 
  • More evidence will be required to prove competence 
  • It is more likely that direct evidence will be needed (indirect and supplementary evidence is more likely to be sufficient in the case of lower risk modules or smaller claims). 
As stated earlier, evidence is generated in two stages: primary, submitted in the application; or secondary, submitted in response to the assessor.

A range of possible assessment methods are suggested to generate secondary evidence, if that is required.

However, assessors and participants should not be limited to the suggestions made.

Cost efficiency

When considering how much evidence is appropriate the need to provide enough should be balanced with the need for the process to be cost-efficient. From the assessor’s point of view too much evidence will make the process inefficient.

Key features of evidence

When supplying evidence there are a number of issues that must be considered about the evidence supplied.

Evidence should be:
  • Valid 
  • Authentic 
  • Sufficient 
  • Current 
In addition assessors must check that the assessment of evidence is reliable.


In order for the R.P.L. to be granted for a module the evidence must, in total, cover the broad range of knowledge and skills required to satisfy the assessment criteria.


Assessors need to satisfy themselves that any direct evidence on which they make their judgments is your own work.


Assessors need to review and judge any evidence – whether it relates to from current or past situations – to determine the participant’s current competence. They may need to check that any competencies demonstrated in the past are still held.


Assessors must have sufficient evidence to make judgments about competence.


Assessment practices should be monitored and reviewed to make sure there is consistency in the interpretation of evidence.

Clarifying gaps

As you discover gaps in your background experience it will become clearer about what areas you will need to focus on in the course.

Assessment of the Application

The aim of this section of the overall R.P.L. process is for the assessor to determine, through a detailed systematic review of the submitted evidence, whether you have achieved the required learning outcomes.

The assessor (or assessors) will review your portfolio, judging the primary evidence supplied against the learning outcomes and assessment criteria in each of the units of competency or competencies claimed.

Note: You may be asked to meet with the assessor to go through the portfolio and clarify the evidence submitted.

If there is insufficient evidence supplied to assist in making the judgment at this time you will be asked to supply further evidence, to complete assignments or to demonstrate certain skills in the workplace or in a simulated situation. The assessor may wish to communicate with your manager or supervisor. Should this situation occur the assessor will negotiate these or other assessment strategies with you.

Upon completion of the assessment of your RPL application the assessor(s) will complete the assessor report form, which will be supplied to you.

Post Assessment Report and Guidance

This stage of the RPL process is designed to: 
  • Encourage you to reflect on the R.P.L. outcomes and to then set appropriate learning targets 
  • Inform unsuccessful applicants about appeals 
  • Obtain participant feedback about the R.P.L. process and the ways to improve upon it. 

Notification and feedback

You will be notified in writing about the results of the assessment of your submitted portfolio of evidence. It will be supplied to you in the form of an assessor report that will outline the units of competency or competencies that have been accepted via RPL and granted.

This report will also contain constructive feedback and advice in relation to why units of competency may not have been accepted and further options available to you including the appealing of the assessment results. At the end of this information you find a copy of the Smart Academy assessment appeals process and the assessment appeals form should you require this information.

A meeting between your RPL assessor and yourself will be arranged to discuss the report outcomes. During this meeting a learning plan can be devised for you that will take into account the results of the RPL assessment and sets out how you will complete the course requirements. In addition, you may be assisted in setting further learning targets. These may, for example, relate to other courses or to other skills development opportunities.


The aim of this stage of the RPL process is to recognise the outcome of an RPL assessment by noting it in your personal file or entering the results on a RPL database. It is important that both Smart Academy and you keep records of the RPL assessment.

Record Keeping

Smart Academy will keep records of:

  • The assessor report together with information on the assessment strategies utilised, and assessment decisions and appeals decisions (where applicable); 
  • Details of you individual learning plan and further learning targets.