Frequently Asked Questions about CPD

The CPD Steering Group has compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about the new CPD Programme.

A programme of training and publicity is being planned for 2017 and 2018 which will answer many queries about the new Programme.

If you have a question not answered here, please contact the CPD Steering Group on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What is the new CPD Programme?

ARA is introducing a new Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Programme for its members. Currently, the highest evidence of professional development offered by ARA is completion of the Registration Scheme. However, it is recognised that professional development starts and continues throughout our record keeping careers, from volunteer to head of service.

A framework of competencies has been developed around which individuals can plan, document and reflect upon their development. A flexible online tool (Mahara) will be available to members within which to record their CPD.

Where has the new CPD Programme come from?

The new Programme has been developed by the CPD Steering Group and the CPD Pilot Group, in addition to the Registration Scheme Sub Committee and Registration Scheme assessors. First steps were taken towards the new Programme in 2009/10, and the predecessor to the CPD Steering Group and Pilot Groups was set up in 2011 in order to start putting the new Programme together. Although archive consultants have undertaken some formal work on the new CPD Programme, much of the development work has been done by the two voluntary CPD groups. Intensive piloting and revisions have been underway since 2013/4. It has taken some time to put together a programme suitable for all levels of ARA membership within the huge range of roles available within archives, records management and conservation.

What are the basics of the new CPD Programme?

The new offer will enable those ARA members wishing to record their CPD formally to do so via a new online portfolio system (Mahara). This can be done as you go, at whatever level of detail works for you.

For ARA members wishing their professional achievements and development to be formally assessed, three levels of attainment will be offered:

  • Foundation: for those working as volunteers, as para-professionals and those without a formal qualification
  • Registration: as currently offered, for those with a formal qualification or significant experience in a professional post
  • Fellowship: for registered members with significant experience and who have contributed to the wider profession

The online CPD tool (Mahara) is also used to create an online portfolio for submission for formal assessment as and when required.

The new CPD Programme is based around a Framework of Competencies which is designed to be flexible and relevant to all working within archives, records management and conservation at all levels of experience and qualification. The Programme’s Assessment Criteria give full details of how the portfolio for formal assessment is compiled in conjunction with the Framework of Competencies. See http://www.archives.org.uk/cpd/assessment-revalidation.html

When does the CPD Programme start?

The CPD programme is currently being piloted and refined by a Pilot Group of around 25 volunteers from across the ARA membership to ensure it is fit-for-purpose. The Programme will formally launch at the ARA Conference in late summer 2017, with the first rounds of assessment for foundation, registration and registration revalidation beginning in 2018. Fellowship will start in 2019.

A full programme of publicity and training are currently being planned for 2017 and 2018 and will be announced on a regular basis through ARA Today, ARC and other sources. Training will be provided for candidates, mentors and assessors. Please watch this space as the new CPD Programme is still under active development and details are being finalised over the next few months by the Steering, Pilot and Fellowship Groups.

Where can I find out more about the CPD Programme?

Full guidance for the new CPD Programme is currently being compiled and will be published in early 2017. In the meantime, these FAQs provide some interim information about the new Programme. Please direct any queries not covered here to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The ARA webpages on CPD are being updated on a regular basis. The Programme Criteria give full details of the new CPD Programme at the three formal levels of assessment. The full Competency Framework and other key documentation are also available at http://www.archives.org.uk/cpd/assessment-revalidation.html

Is the new CPD Programme compulsory?

No – definitely not! The development of the new CPD Programme is as a direct result of the 2010 survey which demonstrated that large numbers of ARA members wished for a scheme bigger than that already provided by Registration, which would be open to members at all stages of their careers. We hope that with the growing professionalisation of record keepers working in archives, records management and conservation, ARA members will want to plan and document their development throughout their entire careers.

The Programme will offer a structured and supported mechanism for this to happen. It provides formal opportunities for CPD assessment at three key stages of the career, Foundation, Registration and Fellowship. Once attained, these three assessed levels will be re-validated on a five year cycle in order to demonstrate that CPD remains under active development at an appropriate level. This is in line with CPD schemes in allied professions.

However, the new Programme also recognises that the ARA membership (as the Society of Archivists) has rejected compulsory CPD in the past, so the new CPD Programme remains entirely voluntary. Members may entirely opt out if they so wish.

Is the scheme open to people without a record-keeping qualification?

Yes. The scheme is designed to meet the needs of everyone from conservation volunteer to senior policy makers. Foundation is intended as the level most suitable for those without a record-keeping qualification, such as those volunteering, working as para professionals or currently undertaking formal qualification.

However, Registration and Fellowship levels of membership will only be open to those with a formal records-related qualification or significant experience in a professional role.

I am currently volunteering – what level of the CPD Programme is suitable for me?

Foundation level is intended as suitable for those prior to formal qualification, and includes all those in voluntary roles whether this is at career-entry point, retirement or anything in between. It is possible to gain formal recognition of up to three single competencies without needing to apply for full Foundation status.

I am just about to qualify – when can I become registered?

Eligibility for assessments for Registration in the new CPD Programme will first become possible five years after qualification (at least 3 years FTE work in a professional role). This is a change from the current three years in the existing Registration Scheme. It reflects the advice of the Registration Scheme Committee, registrar and assessors that the best portfolios are typically those submitted after the 5 year period when a more rounded and varied range of professional experience has been accumulated and developed.

In the meantime, you can work towards Foundation status and then start compiling your portfolio for Registered status during this five year period following formal qualification.

I’m a registered member - will the new CPD Programme affect my registered status?

Yes. In order to retain registered status, members will be expected to undertake a revalidation exercise within the CPD Programme on a rolling 5 year cycle. Revalidation will not be as detailed or complex as a full registration portfolio but will require evidence of continued CPD activity and reflective practice.
Revalidation will also apply to those who have gained Foundation or Fellowship status in the new CPD Programme and who wish to retain that status.

I’ve been registered for a while – can I consider working towards Fellowship?

A new level of attainment, Fellowship, is now available to senior members of the profession who wish to have their CPD recognised formally at a higher level than Registration. This is in line with CPD schemes in allied professions and provides the opportunity for recognising CPD activities later on in the career cycle. Registered members are eligible to go for Fellowship once they have revalidated their registered status once and providing they have been registered for 10 years.

I am happy to stay registered – do I have to go for Fellowship?

ARA members can remain as registered members if they prefer, as Fellowship is entirely voluntary. However, ARA registered members wishing to retain their registered status are now required to revalidate at this level every 5 years.

I’ve never registered – how can I get involved in the new CPD Programme?

All ARA members are welcome to work towards Foundation and Registration within the new Programme and to then retain their status through revalidation on a regular basis. For those wishing to progress straight towards Fellowship, it may be possible in some circumstances to fast track applications for the initial stages of the new CPD Programme. Details of this are currently being finalised by the Fellowship Sub-Group of the CPD Steering Group.

I do not have a recognised qualification but I have considerable professional experience – can I become registered and/or a fellow?

As with the existing Registration Scheme, it is possible for members without a recognised qualification, or with a qualification obtained overseas, to apply for Registered status. This is usually done by providing evidence of professional practice at the point of enrolment. Such applications are reviewed on a case by case basis, and candidates are advised what additional information they need to submit. If this is deemed satisfactory, candidates can then go onto to complete the new CPD Programme requirements for Registered status.

It is also anticipated that potential fellows without qualification will be required to complete registration and one round of revalidation prior to completing the requirements for fellow status. The Fellowship Sub-Group are currently looking at this area and will complete their work by spring 2017.

I am working very reduced hours, am on long-term sick leave and/or am on maternity leave – how do the new CPD Programme rules apply to me and my own personal circumstances?

The ARA recognises that working patterns can change significantly over the path of a career. The ARA therefore acknowledges that personal circumstances and unforeseen issues may mean that the CPD Programme’s assessment criteria are not always achievable to all members at all times. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to: maternity leave, caring responsibilities, changes in personal circumstances, career breaks or sickness.

Candidates are encouraged to discuss any such issues in confidence with the CPD Programme Manager. Suitable adjustments will be made where appropriate on a case by case basis.

I am retired – what’s in the new CPD Programme for me?

Retired members will be able to record their professional development and to engage with CPD within the new CPD Programme. Although the details have not yet been finalised, it is likely that members in this position will provide proof of CPD activities in a more reduced quantity to those working non-retirement working patterns. Details will follow as soon as available.

What about the current Registration Scheme?

The Registration Scheme is being absorbed into the new CPD Programme. The current Registration Scheme is now closed to new candidates although existing candidates have until October 2017 to submit their portfolios assessed according to the current Registration Scheme criteria. For more details, see the Registration section of the ARA website.

New enrolments are already being taken for the new CPD Programme by those intending to apply for Registered status as soon as it becomes available for formal assessment in 2018. Candidates are free to start to develop their portfolios using the competency framework and write-up templates which are available on the CPD website . 

I’m enrolled on the Registration Scheme but do not plan to submit my portfolio by October 2017 and the end of the current scheme. What happens?

Candidates enrolled on the “old” scheme for ten years or less who do not submit by October 2017 will automatically be transferred to the new Registration strand of the new CPD Programme. They will need to submit a portfolio based around the competency framework rather than the previous four development areas and activity-based Learning Outcome Forms. It is anticipated that much if not all existing work completed within the old scheme can be mapped across into the new competency framework and then revised in order to meet the new Programme assessment criteria and new write-up templates.

Candidates enrolled for more than ten years will be removed from the scheme. If they wish to apply for registered status, they will be required to re-enrol in the new CPD Programme. Again, existing work can be mapped across into the new competency framework and write-up templates.

Is this just more form filling?
Members of the Pilot Group for the CPD Programme all recognised that we don’t like filling in unnecessary forms. The online tool (Mahara) for recording your CPD on a regular basis allows for different ways of doing so. These include online templates, blogging and videos, and storage of images and digital files. However, by its very nature, formal assessment at the three levels of attainment will inevitably require more detailed work and the compilation of a portfolio of various bits of information documenting your CPD progress over time.

What will the new CPD Programme cost me?

CPD is a key benefit of ARA membership. All members will therefore have access to the online system Mahara for recording their CPD.

There will be enrolment and assessment fees for those wishing to undertake an assessed level at Foundation, Registration or Fellowship. The levels of fees are currently under review.

If I leave ARA, can I still use the CPD Programme?

The new CPD Programme and its assessed levels are seen as a benefit of membership of the ARA. The framework of competencies and other documentation are widely available as public documents on the ARA website, and the guidance will follow here in early 2017.

Access to the portfolio builder (Mahara), training, support and retention of any attained status will only be available to ARA members as part of the ARA’s membership offer. Those leaving ARA membership will have the ability to export all data from the portfolio system Mahara prior to leaving if so desired.


CPD Steering Group, July 2017