The purpose of this document is to describe the policy regarding curriculum and training programme design in order to standardize the process and make best use of organizational resources in the development of quality learner centered based programmes.


The scope of this policy covers the design of training and educational programmes as per the needs expressed by the stakeholders/clients of the organisation.

Nature of Programmes

The organization’s primary focus is on outcomes-based, fully accredited skills programmes that comprise both theoretical and practical components. The programmes are targeted at learners that belong to the Higher Education and Further Education Bands.  In addition, the organization will facilitate assessment programmes that recognize prior learning of learners.

Education and training programmes fall broadly into one of two categories:

employment based or

education and training based.

Employment based programmes generally lead to Unit Standard Qualifications or equivalent and, following initial assessment and action planning for individuals, training is usually through a full-time systematic programme of work­ based activity and learning. Direct training, supervision of practice, and access to learning resources support the achievement of competences. Sometimes off­ the-job education and training is included. Programme design involves planning, often for individuals rather than groups, a mix of learning and assessment opportunities matching the component units in the award or other valid goals of learners.

Education and training based programmes relate to general vocational and educational qualifications. They can be part-time or full-time, take place in a range of centres, and are sometimes linked to work-based placements.

A HE programme must be consistent with the institution’s mission, form part of institutional planning and resource allocation, meet national requirements, the needs of students and other stakeholders, and is intellectually credible. It must be designed coherently, and articulates well with other relevant programmes, where possible.


NQF Status of Programmes

The organization will focus on programmes that lie in levels 2-7 in the NFQ ladder.

Each programme offered will be geared towards the specific needs of the principal users, learners, and conform to the regulations of relevant accreditation bodies. In all instances, module combinations will be designed to optimize the training proficiency of registered unit standards and qualifications.

Programme Design Principles

Programmes will ensure that:

Learners will integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes through the different modules.

Learners can integrate the following dimensions of competence:

The ability to consider a range of possibilities for action, make considered decisions about which possible action to follow and to perform the chosen action (i.e. practical competence)

The theoretical basis for knowledge which underpins and informs the action taken (i.e. foundational competence)

The ability to connect decision making and performance (practical competence) with understanding (foundational competence) and to use this to adapt to change or unforeseen circumstances, to innovate within the learner’s own practice and to explain these innovations and adaptations (i.e. reflexive competence)

Theory is integrated with practice in order to strengthen provider-workplace linkages.

Learners are provided with wider social, economic and political understanding and awareness.

A strategy for recognition of prior learning is catered for.

The needs identified in research are met.

Assessment must be integral to the design phase and in keeping with the assessment policy as based on quality considerations of the relevant authorities.

There will be evidence that each programme achieves a good match with learner and client expectations of content and standards. The programmes should lead to Unit Standard Qualifications or equivalent where this is contractually required. They will follow any given specifications to the letter, (e.g. the programme should be designed against the standards of the qualification to which they aligned} or particular criteria agreed by a client or with a learner. The Learning opportunities in work placements should be carefully identified to ensure that all the outcomes required by the award or other learning goals can be achieved.

Particular attention will be paid to specifications for the integration of core skills into programmes in order to achieve  the  appropriate degree of  breadth. Core skills cover aspects such as communication, numeracy, information technology, personal effectiveness, and problem solving. This organisation knows, understands, and has taken steps to ensure that learners will be prepared for future changes by progressing in these skills.

Education and training-based programmes for groups are organised to meet individual needs so far as possible by flexible arrangements for access and progression through the programme, e.g. by self-study methods, accreditation of prior learning / achievement. assessment on demand

All Curriculum and then materials design must include the following;

  • Learner guide and notes
  • Learner Workbook
  • Facilitator Guide and Notes
  • Assessment guide and notes and reference to moderation considerations.

Materials should rely on simple and effective language selection so as to be able to communicate the message but not oversimplify concepts. In time the Workers’ College would like to move towards various language offerings for course materials.

Course design and the consideration of facilitation methods should consider that programme delivery is effective when;

Evidence of a purposeful, productive. and supportive learning environment:

Concern for Learners as individuals;

Relevant, well produced and maintained resources which are adequate for the purposes of effective learning;

Learning, teaching, and training approaches which are appropriate to the learning outcomes, the needs of individual learners, and the learner’s intended destinations which are varied and emphasize learner activity and responsibility for learning.

Effective support for learning will be done through on-going assessment linked to teaching (formative assessment or. trainee-centered reviewing), providing learners with guidance on how they are progressing and the next steps.

It is usual to contextualize learning situations starting from the learner’s experiences after which theoretical information is added and then new patterns of understanding sought in the application of practical and problem solving based tasks. This can begin with pre course RPL considerations or information requests.

Group participation is seen as an important means of sharing experiences and learning to the collective benefit of all. This must be balanced however with individual and ongoing assessment to assist in tracking learner progress for both facilitator and learner.

For all programmes, there will be a clear outline of the learning resources and environment. staffing requirements, and overall learning methodology appropriate to the aims and purposes of the programme. Plans will demonstrate that learners will experience coherent, well-structured and sequenced activities

Where learners with disabilities or learning difficulties are recruited to programmes leading to an award there are plans for modification of programmes, e.g. extra time. alternative learning methods, and special assessment arrangements agreed with the awarding body.

Teaching and training is usually a group activity (increasingly supported through flexible learning for individuals), and follows a timetable of learning and teaching sessions related to components in the award.

Programme design involves planning how groups of learners can best achieve outcomes and making decisions about programme components, locations and access arrangements, methods of delivery, and assessment for certification.

The requirements are met when for each programme there is a statement of purpose which clearly links the target group to the award or other planned outcome and to end users of the programme. (e.g. employers. higher education institutions}. It should be clear that well researched needs are being met. Furthermore, all programmes offered learning programmes will have specific relevance to learner’s immediate and future needs within the defined career path. Learners will be encouraged to pursue the principle of life-long learning that could lead to higher levels of qualifications.

Overall the programme design will ensure that there is a good degree of learner activity and that learners  are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning.

Programme designs are effectively managed and all aspects are regularly monitor and reviewed.

The organization may offer relevant Learnerships under the Skills Development Act so as to facilitate the acquisition of the required notional training and learning hours as required by the unit standards.

Examples of a mix of methodologies that may be considered at a design phase include;

  • Small and  whole class group work
  • Pair work
  • Individual work
  • Case studies
  • Training games
  • Simulations
  • Visual and audio visual aids
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Researching a topic
  • Role plays
  • Fish Bowels
  • Information inputs
  • Reading activities outside the class
  • Problem solving

Frequency and Duration of Courses

Courses will usually be offered as block training units with the duration of the course being determined by the required notional time as specified in each unit standard /qualification. These will be decided on during the annual strategic planning process, or at monthly quality meetings should the need arise. Multiple blocks allow for assessment activities between blocks but assessment should not be limited to this.

Programme Flexibility

The design of the learning programme will be flexible enough to meet the requirements of the specific outcomes, the expectations of the learners, and the quality requirements of the accrediting bodies and the organization. Facilitation may deviate from a scripted approach where a facilitator realises another approach is needed to reach comprehension but such deviations cannot deviate from the specified outcomes or assessment process.

Procedure for Design

The design of new materials should be undertaken with the following considerations

Development should be done in teams and should be used as an opportunity to develop staff and intern skills as part of such a process. One person must assume overall responsibility for development and another for quality assurance.

Establish the needs of the learners and constituent organisations as they may relate to a certain area.

Establish the needed knowledge levels in a content area and then seek either relevant qualifications and or unit standards.

Qualification Outcomes must guide the design of materials.

The above steps should be conducted by the research and education functions of the Workers’ College acting jointly to advise management of different options and the logistical, financial and other implications of a programme.

Once a management decision has been taken to proceed with a new programme a research process should begin normally in collaboration with an internal or associate content expert. This should focus on;

Noting general needs in the content area.

Using outcomes and content area the latest available information and trends in the area are mapped and references developed.

A flow chart is then developed that will construct the sequencing of learning units in order to achieve an outcome. Flow charts should also then identify assessment points and balance experience, theory and practical application as far as possible.

Activities are then designed again paying attention to balance and mix remembering that learners often learn differently, visual, linear, auditory and so on. There should also be a balance between experience based, theoretical and practical assimilation activities. These are timed and located into the flow charts for the course.

Assessment points and methods should then be located in the process flow as per the relevant policy.

Finally, learner guides, facilitation guides and assessment guides are developed.

An internal or external content expert should be asked to comment on the so developed materials and any amendments completed.

Materials should then go through a layout and design phase.

The quality assurance component of the research unit should assess materials for all necessary policy and quality compliance prior to use.

Materials should have a review date clearly indicated at the beginning of the documents, and such review should never extend beyond three years.

Materials are then submitted to the necessary quality authority for an expansion of scope of the organisation.

Depending on the nature and duration of a programme a pre-submission pilot session may be run or the first use of materials considered a pilot. When such a programme is running at least one staff member with sufficient capacity should observe the entire teaching and learning process in order to assess the effectivity of the design and make the necessary recommendations for changes to the design committee. Where appropriate this role may be played by an external associate. Interaction and commentary from the Assessors and Moderators should also be expressly noted in this regard. Any changes made should be communicated back to the necessary Quality authority.