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ARB’s scheme is planned to be introduced in 2024, and architects will be told what they need to do to comply and when. ARB are currently consulting on their proposals. Once the new CPD scheme is introduced, it will be mandatory which means all architects on the UK Register will have to confirm they have undertaken CPD on an annual basis and will be a condition of their ongoing registration.

What is ARB proposing?

Architects will need to carry out CPD every year and confirm they have undertaken it when they pay their retention fee in order to remain registered.

There is no minimum number of activities or hours that an architect must complete. Architects can do the CPD that is most relevant to their practice, in a way that works best for them.

Architects may have to do CPD on core topics mandated by ARB. If ARB does choose to mandate a topic, this will be communicated to architects in advance and with guidelines to assist them.

CPD can be recorded on the ARB platform, or another compatible platform identified in ARB’s guidance. Architects will need to record the CPD activities they carry out and the outcomes from them. They will also need to write a reflective statement on the development they have carried out over the last 12 months, and their future development requirements. Check ARB’s guidance before using a different platform.

ARB will annually review a selection of architects’ CPD records. If you are selected to be reviewed, ARB will write to you asking for documentation about your CPD.

ARB asked for views on their proposed principles for the scheme which indicated strong support for the approach they have planned to take. ARB are now consulting on the detail of the scheme before it is finalised and introduced. This detail is set out in draft guidance that has been published on the ARB website so that architects can review the requirements, understand what will be asked of them and share their views.

Why are the Architects Registration Board (ARB) introducing a scheme for CPD?

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 has given ARB the power to monitor the training and development architects carry out throughout their careers. ARB will introduce a scheme for monitoring CPD that will encourage architects to maintain and develop their competence to practise. They aim for their approach to be proportionate, genuinely helpful to the profession, and tailored by architects to meet their own individual development requirements.

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, ARB 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.

ARB intend to create a scheme that connects a commitment to maintaining competence to an architect’s continued right to registration.

What are the principles underpinning ARB’s approach to CPD?

In considering what kind of scheme might be most appropriate for architects and under the requirements of the Architects Act, ARB developed four initial principles to underpin it.

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. ARB 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. ARB 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

ARB 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 they are not proposing to introduce a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scheme but instead 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 they 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, ARB recently addressed the need for all architects to maintain their competence for fire and life safety and sustainability. 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, ARB want their scheme to formalise, direct and regulate that learning. The scheme they 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, they 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).

Research and engagement

In 2020, ARB 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. The key findings from this research were published in a discussion paper and served to inform the proposed principles for a monitoring scheme outlined above.

In August 2021 ARB launched a survey to invite views on those proposed principles. That survey closed on 29 November 2021 and the results were published in April 2022.

The ARB Board will make a decision about whether to approve the guidance and when to introduce it. It is expected that ARB will run a pilot for the scheme in 2023 and launch the Scheme in full in 2024. Extensive communication activities will take place to inform all architects on the UK Register in advance of the scheme’s implementation.

The consultation ran from 23rd September – 3rd January 2023. We are now waiting for ARB to analyse all responses and consider changes to the CPD scheme guidance based on the responses. Views raised will be used to consider whether the proposed CPD scheme will help architects demonstrate architects’ commitment to a culture of continued learning throughout their professional lives and provide public confidence in the competence of the profession.

Glazing Vision offer a range of RIBA accredited CPD presentations which focus on topics such as ‘The New Approved Document L: Effects on The Specification of Rooflights and Roof Glazing’, ‘Guidance on Specifying Non-fragile Glass in Rooflights’, ‘Approved Document K and Access Rooflights’, ‘Approved Document Q and Rooflight Specification’, and ‘Using Rooflights to Unlock Light, Air and Space’.

Get in touch with Glazing Vision to book your virtual or in-person CPD.

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