Academic trainees for General Practice follow an integrated combined academic and clinical 4-year programme. As with other General Practice Specialty Trainees (GPSTs) their programme will usually consist of 18 months in hospital (a minimum of 12 months) in hospital and 18 months in general practice. In addition, they will have up to 12 months (whole time equivalent) of academic training, often running in parallel to the clinical experience. It is important to remember that the formal outcome of their programme, irrespective of other achievements in their academic component such as a Masters degree, is passing the MRCGP clinical licensing exam, allowing the award of a Certificate of Completion of Training and entry on to the GMC’s General Practice register. Therefore, although the academic component is assessed as part of the Annual Review of Competence Progression system, progress in the academic component is independent of clinical progress in work place based assessment.

National Training Number 

Academic trainees who are on an NIHR or an NIHR adopted (locally funded) scheme will be allocated an NTN (A) or have their number converted to NTN (A) on taking up the academic post.


There are 3 types of supervisors for academic trainees:

  • Clinical Supervisor: Each trainee should have a named clinical supervisor for each placement. A clinical supervisor is a trainer (e.g. hospital consultant, GP or nurse) who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for overseeing a specified trainee's clinical work and providing constructive feedback during a training placement. Some training schemes appoint an Educational Supervisor for each placement. The roles of clinical and educational supervisor in general practice posts are usually held by the same person.
  • Educational Supervisor: An educational supervisor is a GP trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for the overall supervision and management of a specified trainee's educational progress for the duration of their training over the 4 years. The educational supervisor is responsible for the trainee's Educational Agreement. 
  • Academic (Educational) Supervisor: An academic supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for drawing up an academic training programme with the trainee, and overseeing and managing their academic progress over the 4 years.

Meeting with Supervisors 

The academic trainee should arrange to meet with their Academic and Educational Supervisors to review their development and to set objectives for the period until the next review.  They should arrange to meet formally at least twice a year (i.e. six monthly) to review progress, and maintain regular contact in between. The e-portfolio is used to record all decisions, objectives and learning plans as a result of these meetings.  The Educational Supervisor completes an Educational Supervisors Report and the Academic Supervisor an Academic Supervisors Report.  The Clinical Supervisor allocated to that post (if relevant) will also complete a Clinical Supervisor Report (CSR). It is expected that the CSR and Academic reports will be completed before the meeting with the Educational Supervisor.

During the academic placement, more frequent meetings between the trainee and academic supervisor will take place.  These would be at least bi-monthly in supporting them in their academic training e.g. mentoring, a tutorial, supervision, or formal review. 

The trainee is encouraged to use an academic learning needs analysis tool prior to each meeting with their academic supervisor and to reflect on their development. This allows the trainee to present their own analysis of their academic learning needs. The analysis should inform the trainee’s personal development plan review considered at each meeting with their academic supervisor.

Recording Academic and Clinical Progress 

The eportfolio

All posts including hospital, general practice, and academic are recorded as “posts” on the eportfolio.  The educational, academic, and clinical supervisors are required to be registered within the eportfolio and linked to the trainee and relevant posts by deanery administration.  It is recommended that the academic supervisor should be registered as a “trainer / clinical supervisor” for the purposes of the eportfolio as the academic supervisor requires access in all 4 years of training. 

Learning Log

Academic trainees are encouraged to submit all academic related learning log entries in the Academic Activiy tab. The academic and educational supervisors plus the ARCP panel will then be able to filter academic entries by selecting the Academic Activity heading within the log entry view in order to review the academic components.  This also allows the trainee to share this information in a convenient format with their academic Educational Supervisor. 

The Personal Development Plan

The Academy of Medical Sciences ARCP guidance requires a PDP to be completed by all academic trainees.  An up to date and academically focused PDP within the eportfolio should fulfill this requirement. A balance of clinical and academic PDP entries would be expected.  Using the existing eportfolio template a trainee will specify the learning objective, action plan, time scale and the expected outcome.  The PDP learning loop should be closed by recording the eventual outcome achieved.  

Assessments and demonstrating competence – “Think broadly”

Academic trainees are required to demonstrate the development of clinical competence as must any GP specialty trainee. There are a minimum number of assessments which must be completed and it is important that overall the trainees eportfolio provides evidence for the development of both academic and clinical competence. Assessments in the clinical domain can be used to evidence a number of the areas of clinical competence in workplace based assessment and the same is true for the development of academic competence. It is for the trainee with their supervisors to ensure that there is an adequate amount of evidence in the portfolio meeting both clinical and academic competences. The number of clinical WPBAs required will be pro-rata to a full time trainee (i.e. 1 COT and 1 CBD every 2 months if working 50% in clinical practice during ST3/4). The number of academic WPBAs required will be agreed between you and your academic supervisor and this discussion should be documented in the Educator Notes pages. The key is to think about the tools for learning in work placed based assessment broadly, particularly the case based discussion.

Case based discussions for example can be used to record the discussion of a project protocol between an academic trainee and their academic supervisor; it could also be used to discuss the facilitation of a focus group by reviewing the transcript, or the development of an ethics application. Academic trainees can include academic colleagues in an MSF to review their professionalism in their approach to their academic work; where patient interviews are undertaken a COT could be used e.g. recruiting a patient to a trial, a telephone interview, or facilitating a focus group.

In each case it should be clear from the WPBA form that this was an academic process. Further evidence of competence acquisition will be demonstrated as naturally occurring evidence in the learning log. For example, significant pieces of work within a larger project, such as undertaking a literature review or preparing an ethics approval application can be recorded as a separate learning experiences under the Academic Activity tab. Academic significant events and professional conversations can be recorded in the normal way, gathering all evidence under the Academic Activity tab in the learning log.

The appropriate list of academic competences, which can be evidenced, is attached in Academic Skills an Outputs. Not all are appropriate for general practice but the full list is reproduced for completeness.

Educator Notes

The educational, academic and clinical supervisor can all be granted access to the eportfolio, and can leave reflections and comments about the trainee on the educator notes section of the eportfolio. This allows a permanent record and communication with each other and the trainee. 

Academic Supervisor Report  

The recommended report to comment on academic progress is the ACF Academic Report for GP ARCPs.  The form should be initially completed by the trainee and subsequently completed by the Academic Supervisor at or after the review meeting.  The trainee completes a self-assessment before the meeting; the academic supervisor then goes on to rate and give comment under the performance headings. Specific comment can be made on the competency areas in Section 3 of the Report.   

The trainee and supervisors should ensure a summary of academic training undertaken, other relevant academic experience and significant academic outputs, together with an assessment of the academic competences achieved are all documented. Before signing the report any recommendations and learning objectives should be discussed with the trainee. It is good practice to communicate and agree the findings with the Educational Supervisor; such discussions should be recorded in the final section.

Annual Review 

A meeting should take place with the Educational and Academic Supervisors 1-2 months before the Annual Review Competency Panel convenes, but no earlier than 8 weeks.  Ideally, the Educational and Academic Supervisors meeting should be undertaken jointly as is already happening in some deaneries.  Alternatively, an exchange of information (e.g. phone conversation or via the educator notes) would be acceptable to discuss the trainees’ progress before the Educational Supervisor records their eportfolio recommendation (satisfactory or unsatisfactory or panel opinion requested) for the ARCP panel.

The Educational Supervisors considers all evidence including clinical and academic supervisor information in making their recommendation to the panel.

There is an onus on the Academic Supervisor to be proactive in this making sure they know who the Educational Supervisor is and ensuring the Educational Supervisor is fully aware the trainee is undertaking an academic training programme. It is good practice to make contact or to meet to discuss the academic supervisors assessment of progress.  The Educational Supervisor should then signpost the academic supervisors report within their educational supervisors report.  

All trainees need to complete section 1 and 2 of the ACF Academic Report for GP ARCPs and send it to their supervisor (preferably by email) before their academic supervisor's review. The supervisor sends it back to the trainee to upload to their eportfolio under "professional conversation" after completing the section 3. This process should be done every six months. The trainee should scan the Academic Supervisor Report into their Learning Log and attach it to a “academic activity” entry.

It is recommended that the academic supervisor uses the “educator’s notes” section of the e portfolio to record comments on progress shared openly with the trainee. A brief summary of academic assessments will then be clearly visible to the educational supervisor and trainee at annual reviews.


The Educational Supervisors recommendation and supporting documentation within the eportfolio should be submitted to the annual panel as the evidence received by it.  There should be no reason for additional information to the eportfolio.  The annual review panel for academic trainees should also include two academic representatives who have not been involved in the trainee’s academic programme.  The academic representative should be an active member of an academic department with an up to date understanding of the academic curriculum. 

The trainee does not attend the panel unless there are concerns about the academic and/or clinical progress.  Academic trainees should only be invited in advance to meet with the panel if an unsatisfactory outcome (outcomes 2, 3, 4 or 5) is likely as a result of clinical or academic progress.

A commentary should be entered on the eportfolio ARCP form by the panel commenting on academic progress.  For trainees completing their training then the panel should click the option outcome 6 for academic training (and not clinical) and provide an additional comment that “the trainee has gained all the required competencies of training (clinical)”.  At present it is not possible to click both academic and clinical radio buttons for outcome 6.

Based on original document by Martin Wilkinson    Arthur Hibble    Clare Taylor   and  John Howard    November 2011, Updated October 2014