Considerations for HR and L&D Managers

What support can we offer as a force?

Does your force provide support or funding for study already? Can this process be adapted or extended to include officers and staff choosing the RPL route?

With demanding jobs and private lives it is important that where possible you as a force provide support to help individuals who choose to take up this opportunity. There are a number of things you could consider in terms of support for individuals who are studying, if you don’t already:

  • Help with completing the RPL Initial Application Form
  • Funding and financial assistance (Force and departmental)
  • Time for attending lectures, viewing on line study tools or reading
  • Setting up working groups of individuals who are all studying
  • Providing mentors / peer support
  • Giving access to experts in the Learning Development department to provide support
  • Allowing individuals to undertake work based projects
  • Access to computers
  • Consider what reasonable adjustments or specific support groups you could set up, for example for officers and staff with dyslexia
  • Supporting individuals to consider what they should study
  • Supporting individuals to identify their preferred learning style

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How will we ensure fairness in any application process?

It is important that any support given to individuals is seen to be fairly distributed. To ensure the process is fair consider:

  • Implementing an application process for support
  • Clearly outlining the criteria for an individual to receive support
  • Explaining the process by which applications will be reviewed, eg, by a board or by an individual
  • Implementing an appeals process for those who are not successful in their application to receive support
  • Monitoring who is applying, who is successful, how the learning has benefited them and the organisation to inform how the opportunity is being taken up
  • Clearly explaining when and how to apply for support

What do we need to consider when offering support?

When deciding what types of support you can offer your officers and staff you may want to consider the impact of that support:

  • Are there any available funds that can be applied for?
  • How many people might we be able to offer funding to?
  • How will we determine who receives funding? Is an application process required?
  • Who will administer any application process?
  • How many staff can we as a force allow to be abstracted for study?
  • What value is an individual’s study bringing to the force?

What conditions do we need to put in place when offering support?

If as a force you are able to provide support, financial or otherwise, it is important that you clearly set out the expectations and conditions upon which any support is given. You may want to consider:

  • Would funding need to be repaid if the student failed to complete their study or left the force within a specified time of completing their study?
  • How many people can you allow to be abstracted at any one time?
  • Does someone need to match any study time they are given by the force with annual leave?
  • Can student work groups meet in work time? What amount of time are individuals allowed to dedicate to this?

What criteria do we need to place on support?

In order to determine who receives support and what support is received you may wish to apply a criteria, this should be clearly set out alongside any application form.

Criteria you may want to consider:

  • Does the topic to be studied support organisational priorities?
  • Does the topic to be studied link with the individual’s current or future role and responsibilities?
  • Does the topic to be studied fill a current knowledge gap within force?
  • Does the topic to be studied link to the individuals continued professional development?
  • Do they need to have a specific PDR rating to receive support?

What authorisation do we require for individuals to apply for support?

When setting out the conditions and criteria needed for an individual to apply for support it is also important to set out what, if any, authorisation an individual needs to have to apply for support.

It may be that you decide that to submit an application for support an individual will need approval from their Line Manager or departmental senior leadership team.

Consider who needs to authorise applications to make sure that the operational needs of the department and force are being met, and what their capacity is to do to review applications.

Individuals who do not receive force support will still be entitled to apply to study an academic qualification through the RPL process. However this would be self-funded and undertaken in their own time.


How will we deal with appeals?

If you are able to provide some support it is likely you won’t be able to give it to everyone who asks for it. In these circumstances it is important that you consider having an appeals process for people who are unsuccessful in gaining support.

It may be that your force already has an established appeals process that you can use, or you may need to set one up.

In setting up a new appeals process it is important you make it as simple, accessible and well publicised as possible to ensure that it is seen as being fair and impartial.

What administrative functions need to be in place?

Any application process that is put in place will need to be managed effectively and efficiently. It may be that your force already has a similar process in place that can be extended to include RPL applications for support. Or you may need to set up a process for the receipt, review and decision making surrounding applications.

Things to consider:

  • How will the applications be received?
  • How will they be reviewed?
  • How will the decision be made about who to support/ what support to give?
  • How will the individuals be notified about the success (or not) of their application?
  • How will any appeals/ complaints process be managed?
  • How frequently would any applications for support be considered? On an ad hoc basis? Once a year, twice a year?
  • Will there be a specific time individuals can apply for support? Eg, by January 1st or between January 1st and February 1st?

Who do we need to communicate this to?

  • L&D team – need to know what it is and what might be expected of them in supporting the process
  • HR team – need to know what RPL is, how your force is supporting it and what will be expected of them in relation to this
  • Officers and staff – need to know what RPL is, how your force is supporting it or not, how to access force support and how to apply for the RPL process (see also Guidance for Individuals)
  • Line Managers – need to know what will be expected of them and to consider how it might impact their team (see also consideration for Line Managers)
  • Administrative teams – Any team who is expected to administer the process will need to know what is expected of them and when
  • Existing funding groups – if funding opportunities are already available within your force you may wish to speak with them about what can be offered to individuals in relation to RPL
  • Finance departments – If there is any opportunity to bring in a salary sacrifice scheme to assist officers and staff you may need to discuss this with your finance department

What will a qualification provider expect from us as a force?

Qualification providers who offer the opportunity to have prior learning and experience recognised may require the officer/ staff members originating force to confirm the evidence they have put forward in their initial RPL application form. It may be worth considering as part of the process your force puts in place how this should be managed.

To gain an academic or professional qualification, officers and staff will need to complete a set amount of learning and assessments, eg, essays, lectures, readings. To support officers and staff in this forces may need to support their staff – being flexible with shifts and leave.

Some academic programmes may have an element of work based learning. If this is the case qualification providers may expect forces to support this, either by providing individuals an opportunity to apply their learning or by confirming the evidence provided by individuals.

Benefits of setting up projects / groups for officers and staff undertaking study

Forces may want to consider setting up, or facilitating students to set up project groups and peer support groups. These could be beneficial to the force and individuals:

  • Help support officers and staff who have limited contact time with other learners and tutors
  • Help develop and disseminate theories and evidence based practise within your force
  • Help share the learning gained by officers and staff more widely throughout the organisation
  • Help support courses that have a work based learning element to them

Are there any knowledge gaps in force this opportunity could help fill?

It may be that the funding you can provide to support individuals is limited, so it may be worth considering whether there is a specific knowledge gap within your force that you wish to fill.

Funding individuals to study specific topics or areas may be a way of directing funding and helping address organisational priorities.

If there is a knowledge gap it may be worth approaching a University directly to discuss what options and opportunities they can deliver on a wider scale to help address the gap.