Recognition of prior learning


British Athletics, in conjunction with the Home Countries, is committed to providing coach education and training of the highest quality. The educational offer includes formal taught qualifications, delivered in a learner-centred, inclusive and supportive environment.

Our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, under the governance of UKA, strives to respond to the wider educational needs of the coaching community. This programme offers the opportunity for applicants who have a wealth of experience in areas related to athletics coaching, to be recognised against British Athletics’ coaching competencies. This will allow applicants to seek to gain a UKA accredited coaching licence at the level determined as competent by an approved assessor.


RPL is a process aimed at recognising, assessing and confirming the competencies a learner has obtained from other sources. RPL assessment enables learners, where appropriate, to forgo training (or elements of it) and move directly to having their competencies assessed.

Although RPL is not necessarily a quick process, it aims to provide applicants (learners) with a flexible approach to having their skills and knowledge assessed against the learning outcomes and assessment criteria stipulated within British Athletics Coaching Qualifications.

Who can apply?

RPL at British Athletics, is open but not limited to:

PE teachers or lecturer of relevant discipline areas, holders of a relevant degree such as Sports Coaching, coaches that hold lapsed UK Athletics coaching licenses who are returning to the sport, athletics coaches from abroad with a national governing body coaching qualification* (including IAAF qualifications), coaches from other sports within the UK with a nationally recognized coaching qualification.

*Coaches from abroad who are relocating to the UK and wish to coach on a voluntary basis,  may need to provide evidence of a work visa or apply for a Temporary Worker – Charity Worker visa (T5).  British Athletics will also require proof of an overseas equivalent to the DBS, and completion of the  UKA Mandatory Training (Safeguarding and First Aid Training)

How to apply?

To apply for the Recognition of Prior Learning programme, click here.


The possible outcomes of RPL process are as follows:

  • Award of Athletics Coach or Coaching in Running Fitness.
  • Award of Coaching Assistant or Leadership in Running Fitness.
  • Requirement to pass assessment components for the coach level qualifications for award of Athletics Coach or Coaching in Running and Fitness. These are an Observed Practical Assessment, Knowledge Test and/or a planning task.
  • Requirement to attend taught delivery and pass assessment components for coach level qualifications for the award of Athletics Coach or Coaching in Running and Fitness (at additional cost).
  • Requirement to attend taught delivery of Coaching Assistant or Leadership in Running Fitness (at additional cost).

It is therefore important that applicants familiarise themselves with the competencies and learning outcomes for these awards prior to commencing an RPL application.

What are the stages of application?

1. Applicant maps their own qualifications or experiences against specific British Athletics coaching competency criteria and makes an informed decision as to learning route or RPL.

2. British Athletics Assessors review evidence submitted against set coaching competency criteria. This stage will take approximately 10 working days.

3. If further evidence is required an action plan will be created and the type of feedback will be determined by the form in which the evidence is required. The timescales for completion of the action plan will be dependent upon the nature of the evidence that is required, although it is normally expected to be completed within 8 weeks. It is expected that applicants remain engaged with the process to allow the assessment, from application to final decision, to not exceed 6 months.

4. British Athletics award qualifications where applicants meet the RPL competency criteria.
British Athletics have appointed assessors who are responsible for implementing the process of assessment and ensuring principles of assessment and rules of evidence are adhered to. The process of RPL assessment is similar to that for any other assessment.

5. The final steps to receive the coaching licence is to complete the UKA Mandatory Training Module and a disclosure check.

RPL Coaching Competency Criteria

Flow chart of the ROL process: