A brief history of UAS

UAS dates back to 1984 when the Northern Partnership for Records of Achievement (NPRA), a partnership between northern LEAs and the former Northern Examining Association (NEA), introduced the NPRA Unit Scheme.

The origins of UAS lay in the need for identifying short term targets for students, setting clear learning outcomes and ways of evidencing successful achievement, and providing rapid reward for successful achievement in terms of a statement of achievement.

Areas in which UAS was initially used included:

  • accrediting the achievements of a group of students who were disengaged from education yet who still could achieve short units of work;
  • accrediting a range of modular courses being developed at the time;
  • accrediting the wider achievements of all students (not done so by conventional examinations) as part of the recording achievement process.

Some of this work was linked to initiatives such as the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) or Lower Achievers' Projects.

Successful students received a personalised Statement of Achievement from the LEA, listing the skills and knowledge demonstrated. At the end of their course, students received a Letter of Credit giving the titles of all units achieved.

Some of the first units written were in practical activities like Home Maintenance, Rural Studies and PE and by the end of the 1980s, all 37 northern LEAs had become members of NPRA.

UAS has survived several mergers of examination boards and changes to the education system over the years and has spread, from its northern roots, to all areas of the country. It is now used in a wide variety of different organisations and in an amazingly diverse range of subjects/activities, eg Parkour/freerunning, maintaining a tenancy, creating a blog, organising a talent show, volunteering as a digital champion, using a Raspberry Pi …! It continues to provide learners who can't access most qualifications – for whatever reason – with the chance to have what they can achieve accredited.

UAS was originally run by the northern CSE boards but was centralised at AQA's Harrogate office in 1993 and is run by a small team of dedicated staff.

Our motto is 'Achievement for All' and this has been our driving force over the past 30+ years.  We want everyone to be able to achieve, and be rewarded for this, no matter how small the achievement is, or what it is.