ARB’s Consultation on a Scheme for Continuing Professional Development
Results and next steps
As the regulator for architects, ARB ensures only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise as architects. We do this by approving the qualifications required to join the UK Register of Architects, and setting the standards of conduct and practice the profession must meet.
The Building Safety Act 2022 gives ARB the power to monitor the training and development architects carry out throughout their careers. We will do this by implementing a new and mandatory CPD scheme. The scheme will be underpinned by guidance to help architects understand what will be required of them to meet the terms of the scheme to maintain their registration.
From September 2022 to January 2023, we consulted to invite views on a draft of the guidance before it is finalised. The consultation asked for feedback on key parts of the guidance, including the activity-based nature of the scheme, suggestions on mandatory topics, views on the reflective statement, as well as the inclusivity of the scheme and further recommendations.
Scroll down for key findings, conclusions and next steps.
We received 1,350 unique responses in total. Most responses (96%) were from registered architects (1,302) including registered architects who are also academics (65). We received responses from people across the country and the profession, with responses from different sized practices and architects at various stages in their career.
A majority (58%) of respondents agreed that recording activities is a good way of measuring CPD that has been undertaken. Sixteen percent of respondents strongly agreed and 42% agreed with this draft proposal. Twelve percent disagreed, 19% strongly disagreed and the remainder neither agreed nor disagreed. Learn more.
Minimum activity requirements
ARB recommended that architects carry out a minimum of eight CPD activities over the year (which will include activities carried out in respect of mandatory topics). Views on this proposal were split, with slightly more respondents agreeing (44%) than disagreeing (41%). Learn more.
Fifty-five percent of respondents made recommendations for mandatory topics, with the most popular recommended topics from respondents being regulatory changes (24%), sustainability (22%) and safety (21%). These topics have also been raised with ARB through previous engagement and research exercises. Learn more.
Overall, respondents did not support the proposal for a reflective statement (68%), wherein an architect would need to discuss how their chosen activities supported their development. The most common concerns around the requirement of reflective practice were that it was too bureaucratic (32%) and took time away from fee-earning work (18%). Respondents also made suggestions on how to make the reflective statement element less onerous. These included a word limit, publication of examples to show how to complete it, and encouraging employers of architects to allow time to complete reflection during business hours. Learn more.
Two-hundred and eight (15%) respondents were recorded expressing a concern about the scheme relating to money, disabilities, caregiving responsibilities, online access, location or gender. Affordability and the exclusion of those on lower incomes was the most common concern, raised by 65 (5%) respondents. Concerns around disability and the online format of the portal mean we will need to ensure the portal is accessible and offer reasonable adjustments. One hundred and thirty-four respondents (10%) included other considerations in their response. These points included protected characteristics, retired people, part time workers, mental health and anxiety, language and international issues. Learn more.
Concerns and misconceptions
Eighteen percent of respondents raised what they thought were concerns about the scheme but were in fact misconceptions about our plans. These included the view that architects should be exempt from the scheme on the basis they already take part in other CPD schemes, or they are registered but do not practice. We will continue to communicate the requirements of the scheme as clearly as possible. Learn more.
Our conclusions and next steps
An activity-based scheme
Following a positive response to both the principles underpinning the scheme in our last survey, and to the activities-based nature of the scheme we proposed in this consultation, ARB intends to introduce the outcomes focused CPD scheme. This means that architects will need to carry out CPD activities every year and confirm they have undertaken it when they pay their retention fee in order to remain registered. Architects are free to identify their own CPD activities. If an architect has developed professionally and can apply what they have learnt to their practice, then it can be considered continuing professional development.
No minimum number of activities
There will be no minimum number of activities that an architect must complete. ARB will suggest, not but mandate, that architects undertake eight activities a year.
Sustainability and building safety as mandatory topics
Based on feedback from respondents on mandatory topics, ARB will make it an initial requirement of the scheme that architects carry out CPD on sustainability and building safety in a way that is relevant to their practice. development areas when the scheme launches. We will issue guidance to support architects in doing so, and work with professional bodies to signpost knowledge sources. We will we review the CPD scheme as it embeds to better understand its effectiveness, and consider whether different areas of architecture should be the subject of mandatory CPD in the future.
Reflective statement a crucial aspect
A reflective statement is a crucial outcome-focused aspect of the scheme. Concerns from respondents focused on how this requirement would be implemented rather than its underlying purpose and benefit. ARB will retain the reflective statement but will consider how to improve our guidance on the statement so that its value is better understood, and so that it is straightforward for architects to complete. We will also pilot the scheme so we can better understand how it operates in practice, and consider whether suggestions made by consultees would improve the process.
Emphasis on accessibility and inclusion
Following feedback on the equality, diversity and inclusion implications of the scheme, we will develop and test the online portal so that it is accessible and we will offer reasonable adjustments. Basing the scheme on activities and giving architects the flexibility to define their own activities makes the scheme inclusive; architects can opt for activities based on the best learning style for their needs and their practice, and that need not cost money.
Final guidance to be published at the end of 2023, scheme to launch in 2024
ARB will finalise the scheme based on the conclusions above and feedback we have received from our pilot study. We will publish updated, final guidance by the end of 2023. The scheme is expected to be launched in 2024, becoming mandatory for registered architects from January 2025. We will share further information on the detail of the scheme and the result of the pilot is planned for later in 2023.
Principles of the new scheme
The principles underpinning the scheme were first published in this policy paper. The principles are:
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. Our aim is to drive up standards of competence throughout the whole profession, through a model of CPD based on formative learning rather than competence assessments or tests.
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.
Proportionate and deliverable
Our research suggests that architects are already committed to carrying out significant levels of CPD, so 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. The only element of our scheme that will take up additional time is the reflective statement, and so we will help to ensure it is simple and short.
Avoid duplication where possible
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).