SEDA-PDF Frequently Asked Questions


What is SEDA-PDF?

SEDA-PDF is a professional development framework for post compulsory education. Recognition may be gained for an institution's approaches to staff development through named award areas. These are grounded in a (continuing) developmental approach.

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What is it for?
SEDA-PDF supports staff development programmes, the developers who lead them and individuals who complete them. It provides a flexible framework that reflects a shared commitment to professional values and learning outcomes. There are two types of accreditation: institutional recognition and programme accreditation. Institutional recognition reviews an institution’s arrangements for running staff development programmes. Once this has been gained, individual staff development programmes can be accredited for one or more specialist awards, which are linked to a range of particular staff functions within HE.

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Who are the ‘institutions’?
Any institution, body or organisation which is linked to the provision of post compulsory education. Because of SEDA's previous activities the predominant user group, at this time, is UK universities.

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Is that just universities?
No - another obvious group of institutions is further education colleges.

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Is that just for the UK?
No - SEDA has a long tradition of working with overseas universities and this will continue with SEDA-PDF.

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What did the SEDA-PDF develop from?
SEDA launched its Teacher Accreditation scheme in 1992. By the time the scheme was closed in 2002, some 85 programmes had been approved and 3,100 teachers accredited. Also during the 1990s, SEDA launched Professional Development in Higher Education (PDHE) and then Professional Development Accreditation Framework (PDAF). SEDA-PDF rationalises all this provision, with clear emphases on values and on development and with maximum flexibility for the development of new awards.

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What is the purpose of Institutional Recognition?
Institutional recognition allows the provider to show its ability to meet the thresholds required for SEDA-PDF accreditation. It also helps them to describe and move towards their own standards for professional development. Institutional recognition typically takes the form of an event attended by accreditors from SEDA and hosted by the institutional provider seeking accreditation.

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How do I go about it?
The first step is always to contact the SEDA Office. At this point you will be provided with preliminary information and you will be put in touch with a named award co-ordinator. They will discuss with you the process and help you decide whether you wish to proceed. If you do wish to proceed, you will be asked to complete and return a registration form available from the SEDA Office. Once this has been received an invoice will be raised and you will be allocated a mentor and accreditors. At this stage you will have embarked on a supportive developmental process leading to programme accreditation and institutional recognition.

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What is a named award?
There are currently 20 named awards which each share values and core development outcomes, but also have additional specialist outcomes reflecting the nature and needs of a particular role or function within the institution. Together they form the SEDA Professional Development Framework.

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What named awards are there?
Follow this link to the current list of named awards.

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How do I get my programme accredited for a named award?
At the end of a staged preparation process you submit a short series of SEDA-PDF documents and evidence to the accreditor who will evaluate your submission against a set of criteria.

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What does SEDA mean by 'programme'?
Here we have used the term programme for the course or award which the institution offers for accreditation. SEDA holds the view that those designing development activities for staff should feel free to think as widely and creatively as possible about what a Programme, Course or Pathway might mean. The only thing that should concern designers of an award scheme is how best participants might demonstrate their development and how they might formally be assessed on their achievement of the SEDA Outcomes and Values. SEDA does not impose unnecessary conditions on an institution and so there is no requirement for the programme to be either credit rated or at a specific level.

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Who can I talk to in order to find out if my programme fits the framework?
You can talk to the SEDA Office who will put you in touch with the appropriate named award co-ordinator.

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What does the process involve?
Contact SEDA. If you feel your programme fits in with an award, you will negotiate and agree a support and accreditation process involving document submission, allocation of a mentor and accreditors, and in most cases an accreditation event.

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How much does it cost?
Follow this link for SEDA-PDF fees.

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What does this pay for?
This pays for administration costs and the accreditor’s and mentor’s time and expertise and provision of SEDA certificates for successful programme participants.

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What does a mentor do?
A mentor has an advisory role. S/he is normally a fellow programme leader with experience of SEDA-PDF. S/he will contact the programme leader and discuss documentation as well as lead the applicant through the accreditation process. The mentor provides feedback on draft documentation, as well as discusses timescales and concerns. This also gives access to experienced peers whose institutions are engaged in similar activity.

To view more information on mentoring and the mentoring role click here.

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What does an accreditor do?
The accreditor is a peer, normally a fellow programme leader with experience of SEDA-PDF and experience of working on staff development programmes. S/he will read and review your final documentation, discuss it with the other accreditor(s). After this, the accreditors may ask you for clarification or identify questions for discussion at an accreditation event. An accreditation event is the norm, but exceptions can be made in certain circumstances, e.g. for an overseas institution. At the end of this the accreditor produces a report which is seen by the programme leader and signed off by them and any other accreditors, after which it is submitted to the SEDA-PDF Committee. You are not left in the dark, but will be told at the event or in verbal feedback the extent and nature of the accreditation results.

To view more information on the role of the accreditor click here.

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What happens at accreditation events?
Accreditation events normally take place at the provider’s institution. Prior to the event you will be asked to submit your programme documentation to SEDA so that it is available for your accreditors. At the event, accreditors will hold discussions with programme leaders, senior managers responsible for professional development and, possibly participants, in order to deepen and clarify the information in the documentation they have received. They may also request to see examples of participants' work. Primarily the accreditors will be looking to see if the programme meets the criteria for institutional recognition and programme accreditation and any additional requirements (specialist outcomes) specified by the named award. They will also be looking to understand how the programme is being run, supported and assessed. They will want to know how a typical candidate would go through the programme and what their experience would be like. They will ask questions related to the criteria for accreditation, seeking clarification of issues raised as a result of reading your documentation. At the end of the event, accreditors will give verbal feedback on the outcomes of the accreditation process.

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How long does the accreditation process take?
‘That depends’ is the simplest answer. You are in charge of the process, and the speed with which you can put together the relevant documentation and evidence. In addition, you have to fit in with the accreditor’s availability if an accreditation event is involved. You agree a rough schedule with your mentor but 3-6 months is feasible for a programme. An institutional recognition may take longer. The whole recognition and accreditation process, including the mentoring, is normally completed within two years.

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How long does accreditation last?
For all new programmes, the programme will only be accredited for one year in the first instance. On submission of a satisfactory first year report, assuming all other conditions have been met, a further four years will be granted. Reviews are normally granted for five years dependent on meeting certain conditions.

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What happens if I have a problem during the accreditation process? Or after it?
In applying to become a member of the SEDA-PDF community you are becoming part of an extensive network of colleagues who share a range of experience and expertise, which you can access. If there are problems during the accreditation process, you should contact your mentor in the first instance or the accreditor. Schedules can be rearranged as we all have to deal with priorities and demands on our time. If you have a problem after accreditation your mentor or SEDA will be the first point of call. The important message is to keep in touch with your mentor/accreditor if unforseen problems arise.

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What happens if the accreditation process does not work?
If for some reason the process does not work, there is an SEDA-PDF appeals procedure through the Chair of the PDF Committee. Alternatively it may be that your programme does not fit within the existing awards, in which case the PDF is flexible and encouraging to adaptation or new award development.

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What happens after accreditation?
After accreditation you will receive a copy of the accreditor’s report which you will read and sign adding your own comments in the relevant sections. After this the report is signed off and the result is ratified by the SEDA-PDF Committee. You will receive confirmation of accreditation and feedback from the committee, as well as a certificate for your programme. Completing programme participants will automatically receive their own recognition certificate upon submission of pass or completion lists.

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What are the criteria against which institutions will be recognised?
Providers of SEDA-PDF are required to show:

  1. how professional development needs are identified
  2. how programmes and pathways are developed to meet these needs
  3. the location of the programme(s) within the institution/organisation
  4. links between the programme(s) and relevant institutional policy or strategy, for example for teaching and learning or for human resource development
  5. a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the institution’s approach to professional development.
They are also asked to provide a review of their approaches to professional development activities addressing each of these items.

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What are the criteria against which a programme will be accredited?
Providers of particular SEDA-PDF named award programmes must additionally:

  1. demonstrate that the programme(s) encourage formative and developmental activities to enhance professional practice
  2. show how participants develop and demonstrate the outcomes of the named award(s), in a way which is underpinned by its values
  3. manage systems which monitor, moderate and review any assessment systems such as external examination and appeals procedures
  4. if the programme is assessed, show that the assessment strategy is appropriate to support professional learning.
Other issues which may be discussed are:

  • the aims of the programme
  • how participants develop and demonstrate the outcomes of the named award in a way which is underpinned by its values
  • quality assurance processes
  • assessment techniques

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What if my programme is not award or credit bearing?
Your programme does not have to be award or credit bearing in order to undertake accredited under SEDA-PDF.

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What other ways can I use SEDA-PDF?
You can use the SEDA-PDF to create your own accredited and award bearing CPD Framework to reflect emerging staff development needs. New awards are still being brought online by SEDA and we are happy to collaborate with colleagues to explore new SEDA-PDF routes. These may be new named awards, or variants of or additions to current named awards.

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