How the REAL Adult Educators Competency Framework was Created

There were three stages in developing the Competency Framework, with the work being co-ordinated and carried out at the University of Stirling. The stages were:

  • Identifying the Competencies (i.e. the values, skills and knowledge) of adult educators
  • Mapping the competencies against the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)
  • Consultations with adult educatiors, the SCQF, LearningLink Scotland and independent advisors.

1. Identifying the competencies

The Competency Framework set out in this toolkit was created at the University of Stirling, in partnership with Learning Link Scotland, the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework Partnership and input from adult educators. The Framework was initially put together from existing National Occupational Standards (NOS), which belong to the public. National Occupational Standards (NOS) describe what a person needs to do, know and understand in their job, in order to carry out their role in a consistent and competent way. They are intended to inform ‘best practice’ by bringing together skills, knowledge and values.

NOS are versatile tools which directly support staff and employers in the lifelong learning sector in a number of ways:


  • Managers can use relevant standards to describe the skills they need in their workforce, identify skills that already exist and to develop plans to fill any gaps
  • In staff recruitment, training and development standards can become the basis for job descriptions and training plans. They contain descriptions of good practice which can help set performance objectives
  • For individuals, NOS are a useful tool for self-assessment and a means of recognising and describing personal achievements. They can form the basis for continuing professional development and associated career progression
  • They are used by awarding bodies and regulatory organisations to develop and approve new qualifications. 

The core of the Framework was informed by Lifelong Learning UK’s NOS ‘Overarching professional standards for teachers, tutors and trainers in the lifelong learning sector’ (2006), which were created in consultation with large numbers of adult educators. To ensure consistency, these standards were mapped against three other sets of National Occupational Standards which have overlaps with the main work of adult educators. These were:  

2. Mapping the competencies against the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)

The resulting Competency Framework was then mapped against the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), Levels 7-10. This range of levels was prescribed by the SCQF and the levelling process was informed by publicly available SCQF documentation. These documents are the ‘SCQF Level Descriptors’ (SCQF, 2012)  , the 'SCQF Employer Levelling Tool' (SCQF, 2013) and ‘Facilitating the Recognition of Prior Learning Toolkit’ (SCQF, 2010)This work was initially completed by the University of Stirling and then distributed to the SCQF for consultation.

3. Consultations

The 1st draft of the Recognising Adult Educators Competency Framework was examined by a small focus group of experienced adult educators to determine whether it was ‘fit for purpose’. It was then scrutinised by adult educators identified through Learning Link Scotland Networks, who took part in two face-to-face pilot days at the University of Stirling in September 2014. A ‘remote’ pilot followed in October 2014, when the Competency Framework and Toolkit were posted out for detailed consideration by adult educators, whose comments were collected via an e-mail and telephone interview.  The purpose of the consultations was to identify if the Competency Framework was understandable and fit for purpose and to identify whether adult educators recognised it as a description of their role.

Advice was also sought from an educational consultant who had been involved in the development of ‘Flexipath’, a similar RPL framework and toolkit created specifically for Learning Centre Managers to use.

More information about National Occupational Standards

National Occupational Standards (NOS) exist for a range of occupations which have overlaps with the role of an adult educator, such as Personal Tutoring, and Coaching and Mentoring. These NOS were produced through the work of a UK Government funded organisation called Life Long Learning UK, following large scale consultations with practitioners. NOS are used to create job descriptions and to inform the creation of training or accredited courses for professionals working in these areas. For this reason, they may be of interest to you.

Life Long Learning UK no longer exists, but the National Occupational Standards, which belong to the public, remain available on the government hosted ‘Excellence Gateway’, where NOS can be found for the following employment areas: 

  • Advice and Guidance
  • Coaching and Mentoring
  • Family Learning
  • Learner Involvement
  • Learning Delivery
  • Learning Support
  • Personal Tutoring.

Community Learning and Development (CLD) Scotland

The professional standards as set out by the CLD Council for Scotland are available here

College Lecturers

National Occupational Standards have been set out for lecturers working in colleges of Further Education in Scotland.    

Other jobs and professions

The National Occupation Standards Database holds NOSs for a wide variety of jobs and professions across a range of employment sectors. 

Website hosted by University of Stirling