Initial Police Learning

The full Initial Curriculum is made up of three programmes comprising the initial learning for police constables, police community support officers and special constables.

Student typeProgramme nameDescription
Police constablesInitial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP)A two-year programme with approximately 35 weeks of supporting learning materials.

Mandatory qualification: Diploma in Policing (see below).
Police community support officersPCSO National Learning ProgrammeApproximately 10 weeks of direct learning, normally completed over a period of six to 12 months.

Non-mandatory qualification:  Certificate in Policing (see below).
Special constablesInitial Learning for the Special Constabulary (IL4SC)Approximately 3.5 weeks of direct learning taken over varying timescales. This programme takes student officers to a point where they are fit for accompanied patrol.

Principal features

The National Curriculum for each programme is presented through learning outcomes contained in module specifications/descriptors.

All Initial Learning materials are available free of charge to Home Office forces online via the Managed Learning Environment (MLE) maintained by the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies (NCALT). Forces can choose to use the national materials, locally developed materials or a blend of national and local to meet the outcomes of the programmes.

The Initial Learning curriculum introduces many aspects of other College of Policing learning programmes at initial/first responder level - these include Professionalising the Investigation Process (PIP) Level 1, Forensics 21, Mental Ill Health, Equality and Human Rights, Search and many more. By embedding jointly developed materials from other programmes, we ensure that the Initial Learning suite of programmes remains current, contemporary and congruous with advancements across the service.

All Initial Learning materials are maintained and uploaded on a weekly basis, and are improved in response to feedback from forces, legislative changes, doctrine development, best practice, strategic directives and other environmental scanning.

The learning experience

Each programme uses a rich blend of delivery methods. Student officers will experience learning in the classroom and the workplace, as well as involving the people and communities they will be serving, through local community placement and engagement.

The learning experience is supported by a variety of learning methodologies including:

  • case studies/scenarios
  • student notes
  • e-learning/distance learning
  • facilitated group discussions
  • individual and group exercises
  • practical exercises
  • presentations
  • workplace coaching/mentoring
  • attachments
  • supported role plays
  • multiple-choice questions
  • knowledge checks
  • formative assessments.

To ensure that student officers are fully equipped to deal with the challenges of modern-day policing, support, advice and guidance through the initial programmes is provided locally through force trainers, operational tutors, operational line managers and supervisors.

Delivery and quality assurance

The national implementation and delivery of the Initial Learning programmes is quality assured via the Quality Assurance Scheme for Training, Learning and Development in the Police Service (PSQA).

For IPLDP, forces are also required to show evidence of compliance with nine additional criteria. These criteria aim to maintain the ethos and principles of IPLDP as a national programme, and further enhance the quality of delivery.

Initial qualification and assessment


From January 2010 the Diploma in Policing for IPLDP was introduced as the minimum national qualification. This 10-unit qualification is available under Ofqual's Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF) and is administered through the main national awarding bodies.

In addition to the Diploma in Policing qualification, forces must ensure that the mandatory outcomes detailed in the national IPLDP curriculum are fully achieved.


From June 2010 the non-mandatory Certificate in Policing qualification for PCSOs was introduced. This is a six-unit qualification, available under Ofqual's Qualifications Credit Framework (QCF), and is administered through the main national awarding bodies. The PCSO qualification has four QCF units which are common with the IPLDP qualification. This provides opportunities for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for those PCSOs wishing to become police constables.

In addition to the Certificate in Policing qualification, forces should ensure that the core outcomes of the national PCSO programme are achieved so that they are compliant with the national curriculum for PCSOs.


At present there are no formal qualifications associated with the Initial Learning for the Special Constabulary. However, in order to be IL4SC compliant, forces should ensure that the learning outcomes from the national curriculum are achieved.

Pre-entry to policing

A number of initiatives are under way to support the development of pre-join schemes to the police service.

Additional information is available on the Police Recruitment pages, if you need further information about any of the above, contact

By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing for us to set a small number of cookies. Cookie policy