Architects play an important role in creating a built environment that inspires people, in which we can all be safe and live well, and that helps to tackle the fundamental challenges our planet faces. Anyone using an architect’s services, or a building designed by an architect, has the right to expect that architects will maintain and develop their skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours on an ongoing basis throughout their career.
The Building Safety Act published in June 2021 is intended to give ARB the power to monitor the training and development architects carry out throughout their careers. ARB will introduce a scheme for monitoring continuing professional development (CPD) that will encourage architects to maintain and develop their competence to practise. We aim for our approach to be proportionate, genuinely helpful to the profession, and tailored by architects to meet their own individual development requirements.
We want to hear from architects and any other interested stakeholders to understand what kind of scheme would be most effective for raising standards and maintaining confidence in the profession. We’ve already carried out research which has enabled our Board to develop four principles to underpin the scheme. We are now inviting architects to share their views on these principles and on how ARB can effectively support the profession with a new scheme.
Before completing the survey, please continue to read the information below and the policy paper, a link to which is at the foot of this page. The survey will close at midday on Monday 29 November 2021. We cannot commit to analysing responses received after that date.
Why are we introducing a scheme for CPD?
Most regulated professionals are required to manage their Continuing Professional Development throughout their career.
While the Architects Code of Conduct and Practice expects all architects to keep their knowledge and skills relevant to their professional work up to date, the only point that a check is carried out on whether they have done so is when an architect is the subject of a disciplinary complaint. It is quite plausible that for many architects there will have been no checks to see whether they are maintaining their competence from their point of registration until their retirement.
One of the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future Review which followed the Grenfell Tower disaster was that there should be a greater emphasis on both improved competence and regulatory oversight across the construction industry.
To meet the recommendations from the review, we want to be able to demonstrate architects’ commitment to a culture of continued learning throughout their professional lives, which will uphold public confidence in the competence of the profession.
We intend to use the new legislative powers proposed under the Building Safety Bill to create a scheme that connects a commitment to maintaining competence to an architect’s continued right to registration.
Who have we spoken to so far?
In 2020 we commissioned a significant piece of research that included analysis of how competence should be maintained and developed throughout an architect’s career.
The research, carried out by independent research company SQW, analysed how competence is maintained in the architecture profession globally and looked at how other UK regulated professions manage CPD.
It also included a survey sent to registered architects, an open call for evidence to stakeholders, and an examination of the views of architects’ employers and clients. In depth interviews and focus groups were used to examine initial findings of the research in greater detail. You can read the key findings from the research in the discussion paper linked at the foot of this page; these findings served to inform the proposed principles for a monitoring scheme.
What are the principles we wish to apply to CPD?
In considering what kind of scheme might be most appropriate for architects and under the requirements of the Architects Act, our research has enabled us to develop some initial principles to underpin it.
We’re now inviting views on the principles and would like to hear your thoughts through our survey, which you can take following the link below.
Principle 1: Improve the overall competence of the profession
The scheme will need to create an overall positive shift in the collective competence of the profession by promoting a culture of continuing professional development. We want the scheme to encourage architects to think about their competence and take personal accountability for addressing it. The aim is to drive up standards of competence throughout the whole profession.
It is therefore likely that the model will be based on formative learning rather than competence assessments or tests. We do not believe that it is possible to create single point assessments that are capable of being relevant to the range and diversity of architectural practice.
The scheme should focus on outcomes instead of inputs. This means that the quality and impact of the learning undertaken will be paramount, rather than the hours that have been logged.
The purpose of the scheme will not be a drive to remove architects from the Register, but to encourage a cycle of learning and development. While there must be a consequence for those architects who are unwilling or unable to commit to maintaining their competence, or to engage in the process, it will be unconnected to the disciplinary process which deals with serious cases of incompetence and misconduct.
Principle 2: Tailored by architects to their own practice and needs
We believe that every architect has unique development requirements, so an effective CPD scheme must allow for individuals to maintain and develop their competence in a way that is relevant to their practice. This means that we are not proposing to introduce a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scheme. Instead, we will develop a scheme that will encourage architects to reflect, plan, act and evaluate on their learning activities in a way that is relevant to their own practice and development needs.
The scheme should however allow for ARB to make interventions where we identify particular areas of competence that the whole profession needs to address. For example, following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future Review and in light of the climate crisis, we recently addressed the need for all architects to maintain their competence for fire and life safety and sustainability (we shared new guidelines with architects in March 2021 and published new guidance for schools of architecture in August 2021). Again, this would be done in a way that allows architects to carry out additional CPD in a way that is relevant to their work.
Principle 3: Proportionate and deliverable
As research suggests that architects are already committed to carrying out significant levels of CPD, we want our scheme to formalise, direct and regulate that learning. The scheme we design should, where possible, avoid any additional costs for architects, and they should be able to view the time they spend on it as an investment in their development.
This would likely rule out a model which requires a detailed analysis of every architect’s ongoing competence on an annual basis. It could, for example, allow for a regime that covers the whole profession on a light-touch basis or a periodic sample of the profession in a more involved way.
Principle 4: Avoid duplication where possible
One of the key themes emerging from the Government’s consultation on the proposed changes to the Architects Act was the need to avoid unnecessary duplication with the CPD requirements of architects’ professional bodies. An ARB scheme should minimise unnecessary bureaucracy and allow architects maximum opportunity to use their time valuably.
While ARB must create a model that is suitable for all registered architects, we should pay due regard to how best it can work alongside these existing schemes – both in terms of subject matter and logistical compatibility (such as being able to write up CPD once but log it in more than one system).
Find out more about the proposed principles in the policy paper below.
Take the survey
We’d like to hear your views on the proposed principles. In addition to some questions that will help us identify who you are, and help us analyse your response and compare it to that of other stakeholders, the survey includes the following questions:
- To what extent do you agree with each of the four proposed principles for our CPD scheme? Are there any key points missing?
- What type of learning and development (this could include formal or informal) have you found most useful in your practice?
- Please tell us about any barriers you have observed that have prevented you or architects you know from undertaking good quality CPD? (By good quality CPD, we mean CPD you have found effective because there has been a useful outcome that has positively impacted your practice.)
- Do you have any examples of particularly good or innovative CPD?
- Is there anything further you would like us to bear in mind as we develop the monitoring scheme?
The survey will close at midday on Monday 29 November 2021. We cannot commit to analysing responses received after that date.
What are the next steps?
Following this engagement exercise, we will review responses and build them into our plans for the CPD scheme. Before we finalise and introduce the scheme we will share our detailed proposals through formal consultation next year. Once the Building Safety Bill achieves Royal Assent and we have received the necessary powers, we will start to introduce the scheme.