RCPsych Curricula Review

Frequently asked questions

These are the questions that have come up most frequently in training workshops on the new psychiatry curricula being introduced in 2022.

Curricula framework and changes

There are five key elements in the new framework:

  • Silver guide: contains detailed guidance on training and assessment requirements.

  • Curricula: core, specialty and sub-specialty curricula which outline the purpose statements, High Level Outcomes (HLOs) and Key Capabilities (KCs) that trainees need to achieve in order to progress through training.

  • Placement specific personal development plans: Personalised and flexible PDPs incorporate the HLOs and KCs and encourage trainers and trainees to set activities for the relevant KCs or a range of KCs at the start of each placement and to review these regularly as the placement progresses. PDPs will link directly into the Psychiatric Supervision Report, and into the wider ARCP processes

  • ARCP guides and ARCP decision aids: The guides set out the standards expected of trainees at the end of each year of training, while the decision aids are designed to support ARCP panels in signing off trainee progression. Decision aids are to be used alongside the Psychiatric Supervision Reports and Educational Supervisors Report.

  • Assessments: Formative (workplace based assessments used for development feedback) and summative assessments (MRCPsych exams used to demonstrate specific knowledge and competences) undertaken throughout training.

The key changes are:


Competences (319 of them in Core) -> Key Capabilities (75 of them in Core)

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs – 19 of them) -> High level outcomes (HLOs – 9 of them with sub-themes)

Personal development plans -> placement-specific personal development plans (still called PDPs).

Training relationship

Under the new curricula framework, trainees and trainers decide together which HLOs and key capabilities they will target during the specific placement. This will depend on the placement itself and the specific developmental opportunities that it affords. Progress towards these key capabilities should be reviewed regularly throughout the placement.

Portfolio Online

The placement-specific PDPs have a different format, but sit within the familiar environment of Portfolio Online.

The format of Workplace Based Assessments has also changed, with a scale used to map progress against the standard expected of a trainee at the end of each training year. They also have space for specific development areas to be recorded together with a record of areas where a trainee has performed to a high standard.

The Psychiatry 'Silver Guide' is the overarching guide outlining psychiatric education and training in the UK.

It is the College’s response to the GMC Gold Guide, bringing the principles of the 'Excellence by design' framework into the College’s curricula, learning and assessment.

It pulls together in one place most of the information currently housed at the beginning each of the current curricula. You can find the Silver Guide at this link.

Yes – the AoMRC has been working with RCPsych and other Colleges to produce a new curriculum for BBT. Further information will be available in due course.


Most trainees will move over to the new curricula in August 2022. Trainees who are entering either CT3 or ST6 in August will remain on the current curricula. New starter CT1 and ST4 trainees joined a pilot roll out of the new curricula from Wednesday 2nd February.

Trainees who are LTFT or out of programme are advised to contact their supervisors, TPDs, or us at the College for support. You can use this email address: curricula@rcpsych.ac.uk

You can also view the transition timetable showing the details for all trainees.

We want to make sure that when we ask all trainees to move over to the new curricula it will be as seamless as possible.

By running a pilot and listening attentively to the experiences of trainees and trainers in the pilot group, we can fine tune our planning.

We can also ensure that all systems and processes and resources work as planned.

Training and assessment

No, in core training the 315 competences have been rewritten as learning outcomes and are now called key capabilities – there are 75 of these.

We have done the same in specialty and subspecialty training, but the number of key capabilities varies according to specific requirements of each specialty.

Yes, but these have become placement-specific personal development plans.

These are now personalised and flexible PDPs that incorporate the HLOs and KCs and encourage trainers and trainees to set up activities to achieve the capabilities at the start of each placement and to review these regularly as the placement progresses.

PDPs will link directly into the Psychiatric Supervision Report, and into the wider ARCP processes.

There have been some changes to the scales used, as these now map onto the high level outcomes (HLOs) and require trainers to show progress towards the expected standard at the end of the training year.

These are formative assessments. The horizontal scale has been updated to approaching expected standard as opposed to the existing ‘below expected’ standard.

Trainees should collect a range of WPBAs that together demonstrate their progress over the course of the placement.

The numbers of WPBAs to be completed remain the same and are listed for each specialty at the end of the Silver Guide. These are recommended minimum numbers, there is no mandatory number.

The intention behind these changes is to reduce the number of trainees who are finding it difficult to achieve progression by providing formative feedback throughout the year to help address any concerns rather than waiting until the end of the placement.

We will be reviewing the WPBAs and the wider assessment strategy once the new curricula are implemented, with the aim of re-evaluating the numbers recommended and the breadth of information we receive from WPBAs.

As part of our implementation plan, we will be providing guidance to trainers on how to support trainees with their WPBAs.

PDPs will be set up at the start of each placement between a trainee and their supervisor in the weekly hour of Psychiatric Supervision.

The PDP will be built upon throughout the placement, and any activities that are to be further developed will be outlined at the end of the placement, highlighting progression.

Information from the PDPs will feed directly into the Psychiatric Supervision Reports, which should streamline the end of year reporting process.

The revalidation information and questions about sickness absence and complaints/investigations will remain the same, to be completed as part of the report.

We have produced videos about the new PDP in Portfolio Online, and examples of how a supervisor and trainee might approach setting up and reviewing a PDP over several sessions:

Watch the videos

We will be undertaking a review to ensure that the ESR remains aligned with good medical practice and with the GMC framework.

Absolutely. You can do as many as you feel are necessary to show your progress through training, in different aspects of your training and at different levels of complexity.

WPBAs are there to provide an opportunity for formative feedback, so that you can learn from them and use that feedback for your personal development.

Yes. If your training is well structured, and you have had opportunities to demonstrate your capability, you should reach the expected standard by the end of your training year.

During most of your training year, you should expect to be evaluated at ‘working towards expected standard’. This means that you are doing well and are on track.

Good performance means that you will work towards a standard until towards the end of your training year.

Trainers and trainees will discuss the key capabilities to be achieved at the beginning of the placement and the activities to be undertaken to achieve these. They will be driven by the opportunities for learning afforded by the placement and also by the trainee's particular interests.

Further KC activities can then be added during the course of the placement. One activity (for example in HLO 2, the main clinical domain) may enable several KCs to be achieved.

This information is included in the ARCP guidance documents which includes information carried over from the current curricula.

This would depend how much time has elapsed in your placement/training year. If you are always being given the lower of the three options in this rating scale, then have a conversation with your trainer to explore what more you can be doing.

If you are working at an appropriate pace and developing according to your PDP you should be deemed to be ‘At expected standard’ or ‘Exceeds expected standard’ towards the end of your year.

Remember WPBAs are formative; they are not pass/fail.

High level outcomes

No, ILOs have now changed into HLOs – High level Outcomes.

These map to the GMC Generic Professional Capabilities Framework which has nine key domains. It aims to produce doctors with a generic skillset, whilst also maintaining specialisms to support transferrable skills for service delivery.


At the end of each placement, the PDP allows the trainer to add a judgment against each HLO, to comment on the trainee’s progress across the placement.

There are four choices:

  • insufficient evidence to comment
  • approaching the level expected
  • at the level expected
  • above the level expected.

The educational supervisor should review progress against HLOs from both six month placements to arrive at a decision about the trainee’s readiness to progress.

Ultimately the ARCP will make the final decision based on the evidence presented to it.

Portfolio online

Yes, the intention is for the PDP to be updated to reflect the outcomes of regular supervision sessions, with agreed changes being made to the PDP.

We continue to work on the user experience, but the main interface remains exactly the same.

The system will recognise your name and will serve up the correct curricula automatically. If you are currently on the pilot, you can tell that you are on the correct curricula by looking for '22' by your name.

If you are moving from one curriculum to another, you will still be able to view PDPs and evidence completed under the previous curriculum.

No, it simply means that the PDP has been finished and submitted. There is no value judgment about the trainee’s performance related to this.

Yes, this will be possible. If more evidence is needed before an HLO is deemed to meet the expected standard, then activities from a later PDP can be mapped to it.

This would need to happen for longer term HLOs such as Teaching, Leadership, Research or skills.