- Users' guide to Standards for RTOs 2015
- Chapter 4—Training and assessment
- Clauses 1.1 to 1.4 and 2.2—Implementing, monitoring and evaluating training and assessment strategies and practices
Clauses 1.1 to 1.4 and 2.2—Implementing, monitoring and evaluating training and assessment strategies and practices
The RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices, including the amount of training they provide, are consistent with the requirements of training packages and VET accredited courses and enable each learner to meet the requirements for each unit of competency or module in which they are enrolled.
For the purposes of clause 1.1, the RTO determines the amount of training they provide to each learner with regard to:
- the existing skills, knowledge and the experience of the learner
- the mode of delivery
- where a full qualification is not being delivered, the number of units and/or modules being delivered as a proportion of the full qualification.
The RTO has, for all of its scope of registration, and consistent with its training and assessment strategies, sufficient:
- trainers and assessors to deliver the training and assessment
- educational and support services to meet the needs of the learner cohort/s undertaking the training and assessment
- learning resources to enable learners to meet the requirements for each unit of competency, and which are accessible to the learner regardless of location or mode of delivery
- facilities, whether physical or virtual, and equipment to accommodate and support the number of learners undertaking the training and assessment.
The RTO meets all requirements specified in the relevant training package or VET accredited course.
- systematically monitors the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance with Standard 1
- systematically evaluates and uses the outcomes of the evaluations to continually improve the RTO’s training and assessment strategies and practices. Evaluation information includes but is not limited to quality/performance indicator data collected under clause 7.5, validation outcomes, client trainer and assessor feedback and complaints and appeals.
What clauses 1.1 to 1.4 and 2.2 mean for your RTO
Your RTO is required to develop and implement approaches—including by providing access to suitable resources, facilities and trainers—that ensure students gain all relevant skills and knowledge.
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) provides a guide to the volume of learning (see Tables 1 and 2), that describe how long a student who does not hold any of the competencies identified in the relevant units of competency or modules would take to develop all the required skills and knowledge. ‘Volume of learning’ includes all teaching, learning and assessment activities that a typical student must undertake to achieve the learning outcomes.
Your RTO is required to comply with the AQF in applying the volume of learning to your programs. You must therefore develop and implement strategies for training and assessment that are consistent with the AQF.
Table 1—Australian Qualifications Framework volume of learning : Certificate level
|Certificate I||Certificate II||Certificate III*||Certificate IV^|
|0.5 – 1 year||0.5 – 1 year||1 – 2 years||0.5 – 2 years|
|600 – 1200 hours||600 – 1200 hours||1200 – 2400 hours||600 – 2400 hours|
Table 2—Australian Qualifications Framework volume of learning: Diploma level
|Diploma||Advanced Diploma||Graduate Certificate||Graduate Diploma|
|1 – 2 years||1.5 – 2 years||0.5 – 1 year||1 – 2 years|
|1200 – 2400 hours||1800 – 2400 hours||600 – 1200 hours||
1200 – 2400 hours
* Certificate III qualifications are often the basis for trade outcomes and undertaken as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship. In these cases, up to four years may be required to achieve the learning outcomes.
^ Certificate IV qualifications are often either:
- shorter-duration specialist qualifications that build on existing skills and knowledge
- longer-duration qualifications that are designed as entry-level requirements for specific work roles.
Understanding the amount of training required
The AQF ‘volume of learning’ range is considered to be a starting point for RTOs determining the ‘amount of training’ required to deliver a particular qualification.
In a competency-based training environment, which is centred on demonstrated competence against industry-defined standards of performance rather than strict course durations, students aren’t required to study for a specified number of weeks or months. Competency-based training is the concept that individuals learn at different rates as well as through different modes and different environments and that the skills and knowledge that a student has acquired previously are able to be formally recognised.
However, your RTO must still be able to identify and explain any significant variations from the time periods described in the AQF. Your decisions in relation to course duration must ensure that the integrity of the qualification outcomes is maintained.
If a course is structured so as to be completed in a shorter time period than that described in the AQF, you will need to clearly describe, using a rationale based on the needs of students and their previous skills and knowledge, how a specific student cohort:
- has the characteristics to achieve the required rigour and depth of training
- can meet all of the competency requirements in a shorter timeframe.
Your description must take into account the need to allow students to reflect on and absorb the knowledge, to practise the skills in different contexts and to learn to apply the skills and knowledge in the varied environments that the ‘real world’ offers before being assessed.
When might shorter courses be appropriate?
A shorter course may be appropriate if, for example, the student cohort comprises experienced workers who already have most of the required skills and knowledge. Because these students have previous relevant experience, it may be appropriate to deliver and assess the program over a shorter period.
Assessment requirements must still be met in such programs, although some assessment may be undertaken by recognising existing skills and knowledge. Be aware that in some cases where students have been employed long-term in an industry, their range of skills and knowledge may be narrow. They may not have the capacity to fully demonstrate these in a broader context or in different environments.
Where the student cohort consists of new entrants or inexperienced workers, before assessment you must give them the opportunity to fully absorb the required knowledge, and to develop skills over time in the different contexts they would experience in the workplace. This may require a longer timeframe than for those students with significant industry experience.
Educational and support services, resources and facilities
RTOs must provide equitable access to all required educational and support services, so that no student is disadvantaged regardless of their mode of study or location. Make any limitations regarding access to these resources clear in your pre-enrolment information so clients and students can make an informed choice about which RTO and course of study best meets their needs.
Your RTO must provide students with access to necessary resources, either by owning, leasing, or renting these resources, or by arranging for resources to be accessible to the students in another way.
In the case of workplace delivery, many of the required resources may be readily available; however, some workplaces will not have access to all required resources and you will need to address any such gaps.
Meeting training product requirements
Training packages and VET accredited courses describe the requirements for assessment of students, including any specific environments or equipment that must be used. Assessment methods must ensure that only properly skilled students are determined as competent. When conducting assessment, adhere to all requirements such as the context of assessment and essential resources as described in the unit or module.
When using ‘simulated’ workplace environments, ensure they fully replicate the resources, environment and any time and productivity pressures that exist in the actual workplace. It is important to ensure the development and use of simulated environments is informed by consultation with industry stakeholders. This helps to ensure relevance to real workplaces.
You must, at all times, have all resources available to deliver every training product on your RTO’s scope of registration—whether you are currently delivering it or not. These resources must comply with any specific requirements in the training package or accredited course. The quantity of these resources required will depend on how many students you are delivering to (or intend to deliver to). Your training and assessment strategies should include guidance on the level of resources needed per student or per group.
Monitoring, evaluation and continuous improvement of training and assessment strategies and practices
Your RTO is responsible for developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating quality training and assessment strategies and practices that meet training package and VET accredited course requirements.
Systematic monitoring of internal systems, strategies and practices allows your RTO to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace or to stakeholder expectations.
Use the outcomes of your reviews to decide whether changes to your strategies or practice are needed.
Reviews should include any arrangements where services are provided by a third party, as your RTO is ultimately responsible for the quality and compliance of all services provided under its RTO registration, regardless of where or by whom they are delivered.
An RTO cannot use a third party arrangement to avoid responsibility for compliance with the NVR Act or the Standards for RTOs and is wholly responsible for all services provided on its behalf.
A guide to compliance
ASQA’s regulatory experience and strategic industry reviews indicate that RTOs are most frequently non-compliant with Standard 1.
Most commonly, ASQA finds that:
- RTOs’ training and assessment strategies do not provide an accurate or sufficiently detailed framework for delivery and assessment
- training and assessment strategies are not adapted to meet the needs of the various target groups
- RTOs delivery and assessment practices do not align with their training and assessment strategies.
ASQA’s strategic reviews have found significant evidence of ‘unduly short training’—courses that are delivered in significantly shorter timeframes than those required to ensure students gain the competencies specified in the training. Specifically, the reviews have found course durations falling significantly below the relevant AQF volume of learning range without a rationale related to the student characteristics, calling into question whether students have sufficient time to learn, practice and consolidate the skills and knowledge before summative assessment.
This poses substantial risks to the entire VET system and potentially has major financial, safety and productivity costs for individual students, employers and industry and governments.
Your RTO must develop a strategy for training and assessment for each training product you are registered to deliver. The format for these strategies can be determined by the RTO. You may need to develop different strategies for different delivery modes or target groups/student cohorts.
A training and assessment strategy may comprise multiple documents; however, there must be consistency between these documents so that the overall strategy is clearly described.
Your strategies for training and assessment should not be ‘static’. Each strategy needs to be regularly updated to take into account:
- changes in industry technology and techniques, legislation, and the training package itself
- the availability of resources within your RTO.
The strategies must also be consistent with any advertising and other material you provide to prospective students.
You may set specific requirements, such as requiring students to have a minimum period of industry experience before they can commence the program. If you set these requirements, you must make this clear to prospective students prior to enrolment.
In relation to monitoring and evaluating your training and assessment strategies and practices, while each RTO can decide on its own process, you need to keep evidence to show that:
- you have monitored and reviewed your training and assessment in a systematic way
- results are used to revise systems and practices where needed.
Components of training and assessment strategies
RTOs should address, at minimum, the following areas in each strategy.
- Ensure that you clearly identify the training product to which the strategy relates.
- Include the code and full title to ensure this is clear.
Core and elective components (full qualifications)
- If delivering a full qualification, identify core and elective components in accordance with the structure defined in the training package or course.
- Define which elective units or modules are being offered so you can properly plan for all delivery variables.
- Identify any entry requirements, as well as pre-requisite and co-requisite units, and the sequencing of delivery and assessment.
- Ensure that you clearly identify the target group and student characteristics in each strategy. Each strategy needs to be tailored to each target group. For example, a recognition of prior learning strategy may be utilised for students with previous knowledge, skills and work experience.
Mode of delivery
- Identify how the training and assessment is to be delivered—face-to-face, online, through workplace training or a mixture of different modes.
- Identify any mandatory requirements for students commencing the program, such as qualifications that must be held or a period of industry experience. You should also clearly identify where any entry requirements are set by your RTO and are not an entry requirement of the training product.
- At this stage, it can also be useful to identify:
- any areas where students may need additional support (e.g. if they have limited English-language skills)
- whether students’ physical attributes may influence their ability to complete the training and assessment (e.g. if heavy lifting is required).
Duration and scheduling
- Analyse the nature of your student cohort. Use the analysis and any specific requirements of the training package to determine the amount of training for each cohort, the duration of the program and how your RTO will schedule training and assessment activities to ensure students are able to fully develop the required skills and knowledge prior to being assessed.
- It may be necessary to indicate variations for some cohorts due to their specific learning needs.
Assessment resources, methods and timing
- Training packages and VET accredited courses often specify resources that must be used in assessment at a unit of competency level. Include details of how you will ensure students have access to the resources that will give them the best chance of completing their study.
- assessment resources
- assessment methods
- timing of assessment
- any training package requirements in relation to the training and assessment practices (such as mandatory work placement hours and how this is structured into the course delivery)
- any adjustments that may be needed to cater for different student characteristics.
- To ensure students are able to obtain and absorb the required knowledge and skills prior to assessment, carefully choose and plan the learning resources you will use to guide them.
- Identify these resources in your strategy to ensure you obtain full coverage of all required areas.
- Either in a strategy or separately, document the human resources available to deliver the training product. This ensures suitable trainers and assessors are available for all training products on your RTO’s scope of registration. Record this at a unit of competency level to ensure any specific requirements are met, and to allow your RTO to deploy staff efficiently.
- Compare the physical resources required to deliver a training product with the resources available to your RTO. Many units of competency include detailed specifications of the resources required, so conducting this analysis at a unit of competency level ensures these requirements are addressed.
Strategies for ‘stand-alone’ single units or skill sets
- Develop and implement training and assessment strategies in the same way as you would for a qualification, noting that some information may not be relevant, such as information on core and elective units.
- Often, this type of delivery is aimed at an industry licence or accreditation. Identify all of the requirements of that licence or accreditation in the strategy (including any possible entry requirements such as minimum age) and explain how students can readily attain the desired outcome. Identify any pre-requisite and co-requisite units, and the sequence of delivery and assessment.
Strategies for assessment-only pathways
Where your RTO offers an assessment-only pathway, develop and implement strategies that cover:
- assessment methods, timing and resources
- how issues will be addressed (for example, if a student does not achieve the competency requirements).
How can my RTO demonstrate and provide evidence of compliant practice?
Your training and assessment practices must demonstrate that students gain all the knowledge and skills relevant to their qualification. At performance assessment (audit), when looking at evidence relating to the training and assessment phase of the student journey, ASQA will focus on past and current practices. Your systems and procedures are relevant, but are not sufficient evidence to demonstrate compliance.
Once you are confident that your training and assessment strategies are compliant with the Standards, you need to ensure that your training and assessment practice aligns with your strategies.
In order to gather evidence of compliant practice you might ask yourself a number of key questions, for example:
- Do our strategies include the macro-level requirements of the learning and assessment process? (For example, for an RTO delivering face-to-face training, in some cases this might be a session plan that defines the time and resources allocated to training and assessing the skills and knowledge requirements.)
- Do student files demonstrate that we have followed the duration, scheduling and assessment resources, methods, and timing set out in the training and assessment strategy?
- Where a qualification requires assessment in a workplace, has our practice complied with the timing and quantity of work placement set out in the training and assessment strategy?
- Does our assessment strategy manage the risk of unduly short training by allowing students sufficient time to absorb knowledge; to practise their skills in different contexts; and to apply the skills and knowledge in varied environments under the specified contexts, before they are assessed?
- Do all our staff demonstrate a consistent understanding of what is required by the training and assessment strategies?
- Does our practice show we have the right quality-control mechanisms in place to administer online learning resources and assessments?
- Does our practice show we are implementing strategies to identify and address student needs, including language, literacy and numeracy?
You must retain evidence that your RTO’s practices match the outcomes of your reviews. If a review confirms the RTO is doing well, you may not need to change your RTO’s systems or processes. However, if a review indicates a need for change, your RTO should retain evidence that the change has been implemented, or note the rationale for why a change was not made.
You could retain evidence that the review process has considered, for example:
- delivery and performance data
- quality indicator data
- feedback from industry consultation
- student and employer feedback (and how the feedback was obtained, for example, through surveys, focus groups or interviews)
- trainer and assessor feedback
- validation outcomes
- information from complaints and appeals and their resolution.
Examples of how you could demonstrate that improvements have been made to training and assessment as a result of monitoring and evaluation include providing evidence of:
- changes to learning resources as a result of user testing of resources for different learning styles
- revision of strategies for training and assessment based on feedback from industry or employers about new technology in the workplace
- new approaches to staff professional development based on teacher and trainer feedback.
Tips on compliance—Training and assessment strategies and work placements
Many training and assessment strategies lack clear or sufficient information about work placements, or do not include work placements when the unit of competency or training package requires them.
To help your RTO meet the requirements on work placements:
If you are seeking registration
If you are seeking registration as an RTO or seeking to add training products to your existing scope of registration, you are expected to have access to all of the required resources, facilities and equipment, as stated in the training package or accredited course, in place at the time of submitting your application. This applies for all training products included in your application.
For applications to become an RTO, ASQA will conduct a performance assessment against all training products you have applied for and may also performance assess applications to add training products to scope. Any performance assessment will establish that you have:
You must be able to demonstrate that you have:
If ASQA grants your registration, future compliance audits will assess your compliance in relation to the training and
Assessors will ask for evidence that your practice demonstrates compliance with the Standards.
For more information, refer to ASQA’s Guidance for Providers—Retention requirements for completed student assessment items.
Case study—Delivering a shorter course
Hospitable Training is an RTO that delivers the Certificate III in Retail Operations. Hospitable Training’s main client cohort is employees currently working in retail stores. Hospitable Training has developed its training and assessment strategy for the Certificate III in Retail Operations specifically for this client cohort, who have existing retail skills and knowledge acquired from their current employment.
The strategy sets out that training and assessment will be provided through:
When developing strategies for training and assessment for the Certificate III in Retail Operations, Hospitable Training’s training manager considers the AQF volume of learning range for a Certificate III qualification, which indicates that it should take one to two years (or 1200 to 2400 hours) for a student to develop all the required skills and knowledge for a Certificate III (if the student does not hold any of the competencies identified in the relevant units).
As Hospitable Training’s client cohort have existing retail skills and knowledge, the RTO determines that it is appropriate to provide the training and assessment in a shorter timeframe than the AQF volume of learning range. The training manager develops a rationale for the shorter timeframe, which explains that it is expected that:
This rationale is included in Hospitable Training’s strategies for training and assessment for the Certificate III in Retail Operations.
Hospitable Training holds interviews with students prior to the commencement of study to:
The outcomes of these interviews influence the RTO’s training and assessment strategy for this qualification. If required, Hospitable Training can provide additional teaching and learning activities to ensure that students:
All documented evidence acquired from the students’ interviews is securely retained. This evidence is readily available to be produced in the event of an ASQA audit, for internal quality reviews or self-assessment against the Standards.
Case study—Providing workplace assessment at a mine site
ABC Mining delivers the Certificate III in Mine Emergency Response and Rescue to its staff working in a large open-cut mine. Many students have two years’ experience and already hold some of the units for the qualification (for example, HLTAID003 Provide First Aid).
Training and assessment are carried out in both on-site training facilities and the workplace. The course is delivered over 12 months, with formal training and assessment one day a week as well as on-the-job observation by assessors. Each student is allocated between one and two hours a week for observation and assistance, depending on the stage of the course and any additional support needs identified.
After selecting appropriate elective units, ABC Mining’s training manager discusses suitable opportunities for workplace assessment with the mine site supervisor. ABC Mining decides to simulate some tasks, such as conducting rescue activities, where this is permitted by the training package. To ensure the simulations accurately represent workplace conditions, the training manager arranges access to an unused area of the site and establishes simulated environments that replicate workplace conditions.
As these activities are carried out in a team, ABC Mining ensures every student is assessed for all components by repeating the simulations regularly, with each student carrying out every role in the team over time. These activities are separated by formal training sessions. The activities commence with simple, routine tasks then gradually introduce further complexity and different conditions. This ensures students are assessed on the actual skills and ability to apply knowledge to a variety of contexts in the same conditions they will experience in the workplace. It also ensures they can build on their skills over time.
Where it is suitable to observe students undertaking regular workplace tasks, a schedule is developed with the mine site supervisor that allows assessors to observe each student on multiple occasions. These observations include the assessor asking the student a range of questions to test their knowledge and ability to apply knowledge to different contexts.
The learning resources refer to the actual workplace procedures used on the site. This ensures the resources are up to date and relevant. Using actual workplace procedures also allows ABC Mining to conduct the course at other sites with minimal changes.
To ensure all unit requirements are addressed, and to identify opportunities to conduct holistic assessment of multiple requirements, the performance evidence and knowledge evidence requirements are documented, then ‘mapped’ to the assessment tasks prior to assessment being conducted.
Case study—Effective internal compliance monitoring makes good business sense
STU Education delivers business management qualifications at two Sydney locations. Every six months, staff from each campus conduct a formal review on activities at the other campus.
The reviewers analyse:
As well as collecting information from these sources, these biannual reviews collect information through staff interviews.
The reviewers provide the CEO with a written report, including recommendations for any changes. The CEO decides which recommendations will be implemented and assigns a staff member to oversee the implementation of each change. Each change must be completed within 30 days of the CEO’s decision. To ensure accountability, action steps and milestone targets are published on the RTO’s intranet along with deadlines for when changes need to be implemented.