Glossary of key terms

Glossary of key terms used in the Centre credential approval and assurance process – June 2022; updated May 2023

This glossary explains key terms used within the Centre’s credential approval and assurance process. It sets out the Centre’s specific use of terms. The Centre recognises that terms may have different uses and meanings within other organisations’ processes and in other contexts. 

Annual quality review:

The Centre’s planned process for the regular, structured consideration of the delivery of endorsed credential specifications by approved education providers. Enacted through providers’ submission of information in line with the Centre reporting requirements, with a focus on ensuring that delivery remains in line with the Centre-endorsed credential specification.  

Approval and assurance process:

The Centre’s overarching approach to credentials’ development, recognition and review, including all stages and all governance, decision-making and reporting arrangements. 

Approved education provider:

An education provider (e.g., a university, employer or professional body) that has successfully submitted a delivery plan for Centre approval to provide a particular Centre-endorsed credential specification, with the provider continuing to comply with Centre annual quality review requirements. 

Area-specific capabilities:

The distinctive knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) that form the focus of a credential’s intended learning outcomes and which underpin the particular advanced-level practice professional activities that the credential is designed to enable practitioners to perform, with the capabilities needing to align with the broad capabilities set out in the Multi-professional Advanced Practice Framework and to relate to more than individual competencies, tasks or interventions, or the activity of a specific job role. 

Candidate credential specification:

A draft credential specification that is submitted to the Centre for consideration for endorsement (having progressed through the previous stages of the Centre’s credential approval and assurance process) and which does not yet hold Centre endorsement.  

Core capabilities:

The broad knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs), as defined by the Multi-professional Advanced Practice Framework, to which the area-specific capabilities within a credential specification need to align. 


Any defined requirements in terms of learning and development activity that are defined in a credential specification that practitioners have to complete and achieve (in parallel or on a sequential basis) in addition to undertaking the credential to be deemed to have completed it successfully.   


A structured, standardised component of assessed learning in a particular area of practice that is designed to meet a specific, high-priority, high-stakes, at-scale multi-professional workforce development need that is not currently met by other education provision and that has the scope to make a strong contribution to workforce transformation.  

Credential development group:

The group, independent of the Centre but with formal reporting links to it, that is formed to develop a candidate credential specification and that is accountable to the Centre for meeting the requirements attached to endorsement, with the group’s membership comprising a demonstrable breadth and depth of relevant expertise, representation and perspectives (including from all relevant professions and from patients/those with lived experience) to inform activity and facilitate collaboration and consensus-building.   

Credential development group lead:

The person (usually the chair of a credential development group) with whom the Centre formally communicates on matters to do with a credential specification’s progression through the approval and assurance process. 

Credential Endorsement Panel:

The Centre-convened group that receives and considers feedback from independent reviewers on how a candidate credential specification meets the Centre’s endorsement criteria and that makes a recommendation to the Centre Education Assurance Group on whether the document should be endorsed by the Centre as a credential specification (potentially with conditions attached).

Centre-endorsed credential specification:

The open-source document that sets out a credential as a defined, standardised unit of learning and assessment that has been considered and endorsed by the Centre and which serves as the ‘blueprint’ for education providers to deliver.  


The demonstration that a credential is responsive to population, patient, service delivery and workforce development needs, both when it is presented as a candidate credential specification for Centre endorsement and when it is considered through the Centre’s subsequent periodic review process, with a focus on how its design, approach and content reflect changing needs and developments (i.e. those relating to population, patient and models of care; research and the evidence base; technological advances; and professional practice).   

Curriculum framework:

The part of a credential specification that defines the structured, standardised unit of learning and assessment to be delivered to enable learners to develop and demonstrate the area-specific capabilities that form each credential’s distinctive focus.   

Delivery plan:

The outline submitted for Centre approval by an education provider to demonstrate fulfilment of the Centre’s standards for approving delivery plans in respect of a specific Centre-endorsed credential specification, with the plan particularly explaining how the credential will be delivered in line with the specification and how delivery will be organised and resourced to create the intended learning experience and learning outcomes.    

Digital badge:

The secure way in which it is planned that practitioners will hold validated, authenticated data on their successful completion of a Centre-endorsed credential to share with third parties (e.g. current and prospective employers). 

Education Assurance Group:

The Centre group that receives and signs off recommendations from the Centre Credential Endorsement Panel for the endorsement of candidate credential specifications and related processes. 


The status that the Centre confers on a credential specification to denote that it has fully met the Centre’s endorsement criteria, with the retention of endorsement subject to fulfilling the Centre’s periodic review requirements.  

Endorsement criteria:

The Centre’s requirements of credential specifications, against which candidate credential specifications are reviewed in order for a decision on endorsement to be made through Centre governance processes. 

Entrustable professional activity/ies:

Specific component(s) of professional practice in a particular area that practitioners should be able to perform independently by successfully completing a Centre-endorsed credential specification, with these reflected in the credential’s defined area-specific capabilities and intended learning outcomes and aligning with the capabilities set out in the Multi-professional Advanced Practice Framework.   

Gateway criteria:

The Centre’s requirements for considering potential areas for supported development as a credential specification, with these used in tandem with HEE-set priority topics to ensure that resources supported in development will address high-priority, at-scale workforce development needs at advanced-level practice, and with assurance that a credential will form the most appropriate intervention to meet the identified workforce development need. Learning needs analysis: The process through which individual practitioners’ learning and development ‘assets’ and gaps are identified against defined capabilities to enable a focus on addressing those areas in which individual practitioners have new learning needs.  

Learning outcomes:

The specific learning that a credential specification is designed to develop and against which practitioners’ learning is assessed, with the outcomes aligning to the areaspecific capabilities on which the credential is focused, the Advanced Practice Framework and the demands of level 7 learning.

Learning volume:

The notional amount of learning effort (e.g. expressed as a total number of hours) involved in practitioner engagement with a credential to fulfil its intended learning outcomes, including all forms of learning activity (including supervised workplace-based learning and self-directed learning) and assessment, with this being proportionate to the nature and scale of the learning outcomes.  

Level 7 learning:

The indicator of the academic demands in learning and assessment that reflect those of taught postgraduate (Master’s)-level learning and that are in keeping with the capabilities required in advanced-level practice, with a focus on managing complexity, uncertainty and risk; critically engaging in evidence-based and reflective practice; and leading and managing service delivery/development and others’ learning.  

List of Centre-endorsed credential specifications:

Published information on Centreendorsed credential specifications that are available for delivery by education providers and that are subject to periodic review to ensure they remain current, relevant and fit for purpose.  


The Centre’s focus on credentials that are relevant to and inclusive of the registered professions that can safely, effectively and efficiently contribute to meeting the defined patient care/service delivery needs at advanced practice level, with a credential specification defining the intended target group and the specific practice or other entry requirements as pre-requisites. 

Multi-professional Credential Assurance Group:

The NHS England group that includes external stakeholder representatives and provides strategic oversight of the Centre’s approach to multi-professional advanced practice credentials. 

Periodic review:

The Centre process for considering whether an endorsed credential specification remains relevant, current and fit for purpose; how it needa to be updated to retain its currency and enhance its value and impact; and whether it is still needed (e.g. in the context of wider education and workforce development initiatives and interventions).


Any requirements defined in a credential specification that need to be met by practitioners for them to be eligible to undertake it; e.g. the successful completion of another specified endorsed credential and/or other qualification, to be practising in a particular area or role, and having secured workplace-based supervision arrangements in line with those set out in the specification. 

Recognition of prior learning:

The process through which practitioners can gain recognition from an education provider for learning that they have previously acquired (whether through formal educational activity or work-based professional development) if they can demonstrate and evidence the equivalence and currency of their learning.     


A focus within Centre periodic review arrangements on whether and how an endorsed credential specification has continued, demonstrable on-going value in the context of changing population, patient and service delivery needs; changing workforce development and deployment needs; and developments in wider education provision, healthcare technologies and the evidence base.   

Repository of guidance:

Advice and resources provided by the Centre, in line with its endorsement criteria, on its expectations of the design, structure and content of a full, candidate credential specification. 

Shell module:

An HEI-offered module for which there is no defined content, but which provides the means through which individuals’ learning and development needs and activities can be defined, addressed and assessed.       


The indicative content of a credential specification as a defined, standardised unit of learning that aligns with its defined learning outcomes and area-specific capabilities and that need to be covered in the credential’s delivery and assessment.  


A key focus of the credential concept and Centre approval and assurance process, with Centre-endorsed credential specifications needing to contain sufficient clarity and detail on the expected learning content, approach, volume and outcomes such that there can be stakeholder confidence that credentials will be delivered consistently by different Centreapproved education providers, with a comparable quality of learning experience and outcomes.  

Target group:

The specified registered professions for which a credential is intended to support workforce development, with an indication given in the credential specification of the specific pre-requisite(s) that practitioners must meet to engage with the credential safely and effectively and with a good prospect of completing it successfully. 

Component of learning:

The discrete and distinct learning and development opportunity that a credential specification defines for delivery by different education providers.  

Workforce deployment:

The ways in which a Centre-endorsed credential specification will support advanced-level capability and capacity being used to meet population, patient care and service delivery needs, including by strengthening multi-disciplinary team-working and enabling and enhancing workforce flexibility, portability and mobility.   

Workforce development:

The ways in which a Centre-endorsed credential specification will enhance advanced-level practice capability and capacity to meet population, patient care and service delivery needs in a particular area of practice. 

Workforce development intervention:

The different types of approach that can be taken to developing workforce capability, depending on the nature, scale and context of defined workforce requirements to meet population, patient care and service delivery needs.   

Workplace-based supervision:

Arrangements for providing safe, effective supervision for the development of practitioners’ advanced practice capability in their workplace (or on placement) that support wider clinical governance arrangements, manage risk and uphold patient safety, and provide practitioners with regular feedback on their progress, including to inform their critical engagement and reflection on their own learning and development.  

NHS England credentials