Our TAE40122 clustering model, explained

Our TAE40122 clustering model, explained

This post is for people who are interested in the delivery of TAE40122 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.  In it, we use a load of vocational education and training (VET) and TAE jargon.


Registered training organisations (RTOs) who have (or who hope to get) TAE40122 on scope are now in various stages of preparing for and commencing delivery of TAE40122.  This process begins with choosing 6 elective units that are appropriate for their target learner cohorts, then deciding if and how to cluster and sequence TAE40122 units for delivery.

To attain TAE40122, students must complete 12 units—6 core and 6 electives.  TAE40122 is the first version of the ‘Cert IV TAE’ that has offered so many elective unit options.  While it is great to have this many choices, these increased options also pose dilemmas for TAE40122 developers (like us) and for RTOs who deliver this qualification.

In this post we will outline:

  1. How we chose the first 6 elective TAE40122 electives to develop
  2. How we clustered and sequenced the 12 units, and why.

Our goals

TAE40122 is a big qualification that offers RTOs many choices in how they deliver it.  We have based our elective unit and clustering choices on our desire to:

  • focus early on practical skills that are genuinely useful
  • reduce duplication where possible
  • reduce compliance risks and administrative burdens for RTOs
  • offer maximum flexibility to RTOs so they could easily use or adapt our TAE40122 products to suit their preferred delivery approach
  • offer students a chance to complete TAE40122 bit-by-bit, attaining Skill Sets along the way.

How we chose our first 6 elective units

We intend to develop materials for more than 6 elective units, but we had to begin by choosing the 6 elective units that we would include in our standard program.  We considered these questions:

  1. Which elective units do RTO clients want to deliver?
  2. Which elective units are the most applicable to students who enrol in TAE40122?
  3. Which elective units are permitted under the TAE40122 qualification packaging rules?

1. Which elective units do RTO clients want to deliver?

In late 2022 I surveyed several RTOs who were using our materials, asking them questions about their preferred elective units, and more.

2. Which elective units are the most useful to most trainers and assessors?

For our standard TAE40122 program, we wanted to select elective units that would be the most useful to the greatest range of trainers and assessors.

We are especially keen to offer a TAE40122 program that covers skills and knowledge that people who enrol in a training and assessment qualification might hope or expect to learn—to us, most important was helping people develop the skills and confidence to help people learn.

We also understand that many TAE students may not need the entire TAE qualification. So we wanted to select (and then cluster) elective TAE40122 units so the path to the qualification would include several TAE Skill Sets, where feasible.

3. Which elective units are permitted under the TAE40122 qualification packaging rules?

Most of our research here focussed on one elective unit that we ended up selecting—BSBCMM411 Make presentations.  We undertook extensive consultation about this unit.  We also sought audit advice before adding it to our list of 6 elective units.  In summary, here were our considerations:

  • Although BSBCMM411 is not listed as a TAE40122 elective, it has always been a popular TAE40116 elective, and remains so. We also believe that the ability to present information clearly is an important skill that every trainer needs.
  • We also knew that the outcomes of BSBCMM411 duplicate some of the outcomes of a core TAE40122 unit, TAEDEL411 Facilitate vocational training. The TAE40122 qualification packaging rules state that “Elective units chosen must … not duplicate the outcome of another unit chosen for the qualification…”.  Therefore, although we knew BSBCMM411 is a popular elective unit, we decided to do two important things:
    • First, NOT cluster BSBCMM411 with TAEDEL411 because of the duplication of content between the two units and the inherent compliance risk that this would pose for RTOs
    • Second, seek advice on our proposed inclusion of BSBCMM411 as an elective unit, from a VET consultant and past ASQA performance assessor (auditor), with expertise in assessment design and a long history of teaching the various versions of the Certificate IV TAE.

We are happy to report that in December 2022, the VET consultant said this about our proposed inclusion of BSBCMM411 and our clustering model overall:

I believe your plan is well considered to offer students the best possible introduction to teaching and assessing in VET:

  1. I think there is sound justification for including BSBCMM411:
    • By starting with the TAESS00029 Skill Set you justify the use of BSBCMM411 and offer an appropriate entry pathway to TAE40122, as well as a suitable exit point, if required, that provides an employment outcome (voluntary).
    • As you point out, this Skill Set may also improve the learner’s chances of finding a real situation to practice all future skills in their TAE40122. This improves the validity of all future assessment activity.
    • While presentation is a component of TAEDEL411, I think the scaffolding of skills and knowledge from BSBCMM411 into the more structured and vocationally focussed TAEDEL411 is a really valuable strategy and represents good pedagogy rather than a duplication. It allows learners to acquire the skill of presentation (BSBCMM411) and then embed that skill within a vocational learning context (TAEDEL411). I don’t think anyone with pedagogical knowledge could see this as duplication of the outcome of the unit.
  2. I think your proposed sequence and clustering of the rest of the units to make up the TAE40122 is well considered and will allow for the scaffolding of skills and demonstration of competence without undue overlap of tasks.

Reproduced with permission

Answers to the 3 questions above helped us to finalise our choice of the first 6 elective units that we would develop, and provided a starting point for deciding how to cluster the units for delivery.

How we chose our clustering model

When deciding how to cluster and sequence the 12 TAE40122 units for delivery, we considered these questions:

  1. How can we cluster units to reduce duplication between units, whilst also avoiding some common pitfalls of clustering, and
  2. How can we offer RTOs sufficient flexibility in how they use our TAE40122 materials?

1. How to maximise the benefits of clustering, whilst avoiding its pitfalls?

The TAE40122 units have substantial knowledge and performance evidence requirements, many of which overlap with other units.  Clustering units allows us to reduce duplication when assessing units with overlapping requirements, but too much of a good thing becomes bad.

I am currently tutoring a TAE40116 student who has completed 100% of the practical tasks for 6 of the 10 TAE40116 units.  Before they can attain statements of attainment for these 6 units, they must complete the RTO’s knowledge assessment, which spans all 10 TAE40116 units.  The student is overwhelmed by this knowledge assessment and has told me that they may just walk away and begin again with another RTO.  They will not attain a single TAE40116 unit.

Too much of a good thing becomes bad.  Carrots are good for you, but too many carrots turn your skin orange.  Similarly, in our opinion, clustering is good, but too much clustering has some significant pitfalls.

2.  How to offer RTOs sufficient flexibility?

We wanted to cluster TAE40122 units so RTOs could offer:

  • either a single Skill Set from the TAE40122 qualification
  • or the entire qualification.

We selected elective TAE40122 units and clustered these to form some of the TAE Skill Sets that we anticipate may be popular.

So… to maximise benefits of clustering and give RTOs flexibility…

We set up TAE40122 modules so that:

  • each module covers all requirements of the units listed for that module, so once a student completes a module, they have completed those units*
  • duplication of assessment is minimised within each module
  • RTOs may deliver each module in any order (although we recommend the sequence shown below).*

*TAELLN422 is the exception to this.  It made sense to integrate TAELLN422 assessment requirements into the assessment of the ASS and DEL modules shown below, to reduce unnecessary duplication.  For this reason, we recommend teaching TAELLN422 before starting either the DEL or ASS module.  We will also offer a stand-alone assessment for TAELLN422 for those students who may wish to attain this single unit.

Our model

Here it is:

Rationale for sequencing the modules above

First, we want to emphasise that each module will be set up as a ‘stand-alone’ module, meaning that RTOs can deliver the modules in any sequence.

Module 1 – Introduction to Training

Why we put this module first:

  • We wanted students to begin their TAE40122 journey by covering skills that would be immediately practical to them. We feel that our Introduction to Training module does this—students learn and build skills in presenting and instructing, without yet learning the complexities of doing so in the VET system.
  • We clustered these two units together so students could immediately complete a Skill Set—TAESS00029 Volunteer Trainer Delivery Skill Set. This way, they earn something that they can take with them, even if they do not continue with their TAE40122 studies.
  • This module offers a practical way for students to get started with their TAE40122 studies and helps them establish study routines that will help them when they begin the more complex core TAE40122 units.
  • One RTO client pointed out that starting with the TAESS00029 Skill Set means that some students who may have completed the previous version of this Skill Set, can get credit for the units covered, and immediately progress to the next module.

Module 2 – Introduction to VET

This module covers a new core TAE40122 unit—TAEPDD401—and sets the scene for the rest of their TAE40122 studies.

By completing this now, students who also completed Module 1 will attain TAESS00028 Work Skill Instructor Skill Set.  This Skill Set “is for individuals who work under supervision to deliver training to others in the VET sector…”

By completing this Skill Set early in their TAE studies, students can begin working for an RTO under supervision while they complete the rest of their TAE40122 studies (given the current shortage of trainers in many industries we thought this might be useful to TAE students and RTOs alike).

In our opinion, TAEPDD401 works best to introduce the VET sector and set the scene for the remaining TAE40122 units, but it could also work nicely if introduced at the end of TAE40122 training, to help students prepare for the world of work they will enter once they complete their TAE40122 studies.  Since we have set up TAEPDD401 as a stand-alone module, RTOs may choose when to introduce it.

Module 3 – Introduction to foundation skills (LLN)

We included this elective unit because:

  • foundation skills are VERY important (and often misunderstood)
  • it introduces the full range of foundation skills—both LLN and employability skills
  • TAE students must understand and address foundation skill needs in all core TAE40122 units, so it made sense to us to introduce this unit before students undertake the DEL or ASS modules.

This is the only unit in our TAE40122 suite where:

  • we are producing learning materials relevant to this unit, then
  • have incorporated assessment requirements for TAELLN422 into the assessment tasks for the DEL and ASS modules.

We also intend to offer a stand-alone assessment for TAELLN422, for those students who wish to complete this unit stand-alone.

Module 4 – Delivery and Facilitation (DEL) or the Assessment (ASS) module

We have allocated 2 modules as ‘module 4’, mainly because once you get to this point in the TAE40122 qualification, RTOs may offer the remaining modules in any order.  We have clustered these modules (and selected elective units) so students may complete each as a stand-alone module and in doing so, attain at least one Skill Set (see illustration above).

Module 5 – Online learning and assessment

We allocated the online units last, but you may offer them earlier if desired.  We are keeping these units stand-alone to give RTOs greater flexibility in how they deliver them. For example, RTOs may:

  • (option 1) incorporate TAEDEL405 into the DEL module and incorporate TAEASS404 into the ASS module, or
  • (option 2) cover TAEDEL405 and TAEASS404 clustered, as TAESS00023 Online Learning and Assessment Skill Set, or
  • (option 3) offer either unit stand-alone.

What about RTOs who want to use different elective units?

Our clustering model gives RTOs the flexibility to easily replace elective units we have included in our standard program, with their preferred elective units at various points of the program, without having to untangle too many clustered elective units.


We hope that this post has provided some insight into what we considered, who we consulted with, and what we ended up doing, to come up with our clustering and sequencing model for TAE40122.

We are proud of the work we did—and consultations we undertook—that helped us decide how we could best achieve our goals to:

  • focus early on practical skills that are genuinely useful
  • reduce duplication where possible
  • reduce compliance risks and administrative burdens for RTOs
  • offer maximum flexibility to RTOs so they could easily use or adapt our TAE40122 products to suit their preferred delivery approach
  • offer students a chance to complete TAE40122 bit-by-bit, attaining Skill Sets along the way.

There are many quality TAE resource developers who each offer different combinations of elective units and clustering options, so we always recommend that RTOs first decide what is important to them, then look around to see who can offer what they need.

For more information about our TAE products, have a look at:

If you think one of our product options might work for you, we’d love to hear from you and would be happy to tell you more.