The recognition/accreditation will normally take the form of a face-to-face visit, although exceptions can be made in certain circumstances, e.g. for an overseas institution. This recognises the capabilities of a provider (such as an institution, collaboration of institutions or other provider) to run SEDA-PDF accredited programmes.

Accreditors will:

  • Ask questions which relate to the criteria for recognition/accreditation
  • Seek clarification of issues raised by the provider in the SEDA-PDF institutional and programme mapping document
  • Search for evidence to triangulate the responses in the documentation such as through interviews with programme leaders and senior managers who have responsibility for professional development.

The process of recognition and accreditation is intended to be supportive and developmental and we expect that the conversations will not only establish the provider’s ability to demonstrate that it has met the thresholds required for SEDA-PDF accreditation, but also help them to describe and move towards their own ‘gold standards’ for professional development.


Accreditors may occasionally feel it is useful in discussion to give examples to providers from their (the accreditors’) experience: (For example: ‘We don’t see that there’s a problem with your assessing like that. The University of X has been using something similar to assess …’). Accreditors should be careful and wide-ranging with the examples they choose and not simply focus on their own programmes and institutions: (‘I have been using …’; ‘On my programme, participants …’).

Possible questions to use to interrogate the paperwork with

1. How professional development needs are identified, and what structures and mechanisms are in place to support this?

  • How have the needs of the institution and the client group been identified?
  • Give examples of evidence based and systematic needs analysis
  • How is an individual supported in identifying plans for their continuing and future professional development?
  • How are emerging needs identified and responded to?

2. How programmes and pathways are developed to meet these needs

  • How did the needs analysis inform the development of the programme(s) or pathway(s)?
  • Is there evidence of a scholarly approach to the design of professional development opportunities?
  • How does it meet the needs of the staff within the organisation’s framework?

3. The location of the programme(s) in the institution

  • Who has responsibility for professional development in the institution?
  • How are the responsibilities arranged around different teams?
  • How does the organisation of responsibility for professional development influence its effectiveness?
  • How do the providers of development work together to ensure comprehensive coverage and equal opportunity?
  • Describe the communication channels within the providing group and between the providing group and its clients. How effective are they?
  • How is professional development resourced? Is it systematic and sustainable?
  • What links/networks does the providing group have in the sector? Give some examples of how these have been used.

4. Links between the programme(s) and relevant institutional policy or strategy, for example for teaching and learning or for human resource development

  • How is professional development integrated into the provider’s strategic plans?
  • Give examples from both the institutional level strategies and the local level (such as school or faculty).
  • Also, give examples from your operational experience as well as from the provider’s documentation.
  • How effective are these links?

5. A review of the strengths and weaknesses of the institution’s approach to professional development.

  • What strategies are used to evaluate the provider’s professional development?
  • When are evaluations conducted? Can you give me an example of this?
  • Do the evaluation strategies attempt to demonstrate impact and change as the result of the programme(s)/pathway(s)?
  • Is the approach critical, analytical and reflective?
  • What evidence is there for a planning and review cycle such as
  • Underlying philosophy leading to…
  • actions, leading to…
  • outcomes, leading to…
  • review…
  • Do evaluations include monitoring against the provider’s equal opportunity statements, such as take up, participation and completion rates?
  • How are the findings from evaluations disseminated?
  • How does the learning about professional development feed into the strategic plans of the provider and plans for resource allocation?
  • How does the provider demonstrate its commitment to professional development? Such as by providing entitlements and time off for PD.
  • What is the underlying philosophy of the professional development being offered and how is it seen in practice?
  • What would success in your provider’s professional development provision look like?
  • What do you feel are the particular strengths of your provision and what evidence do you have to support this?
  • What areas do you consider you should be addressing next?
  • How do the SEDA Values inform the process of developing, running and assessing your programme(s)/pathway(s)?

Possible sources of evidence

The institutional recognition process for SEDA-PDF accepts the expertise and the robust quality systems already in the sector and providers will be expected to draw upon existing evidence wherever possible. For example:

  • Documentation produced for other accrediting bodies e.g. European Foundation for Quality Management, Institute for Leadership and Management, Institute of Personnel Development, Higher Education Academy, Investors in People, Quality Assurance Agency.
  • Partnership arrangements, consortium agreements.
  • Programme documentations such as external examiners reports, programme participation rates, student feedback, validation documents, course reviews.
  • Interviews with programme leaders, users of the provider’s professional development, senior managers.
  • Strategy documents e.g. Learning and Teaching Strategy, Human Resources Strategy, Equal Opportunities Policy, faculty/school plans.
  • Bids for funding.
  • Published papers and articles.