ARA members support new CPD Programme

A survey of ARA members has revealed broad support for a shift from theassociation’s long-standing Registration scheme to the planned new ContinuingProfessional Development (CPD) programme. 

ARA Survey Broadly Endorses Planned New Continuing Professional Development

Preference for those signing up to the new Programme to cover its costs


A survey of ARA members has revealed broad support for a shift from the association’s long-standing Registration scheme to the planned new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme. More details on CPD and the results of the survey (pdf version), which was conducted throughout November 2016, can be found at the following link:   

Summary of Findings

Around 24% of the ARA’s membership took part in the survey, one of its largest responses to a consultation ever. Significant space was also provided for participants to add anonymised comments – and over 100 people chose to do so (see below).

Among the results were the following:

- around 45% of respondents would look to begin submitting evidence to support a CPD application between the autumn of 2018 and 2020. Around half of these (46%) said that they would be aiming to achieve the new Registration level (with 19% aiming to maintain their existing Registered status and 15% aiming for the new Fellowship level).

- around 27% of people responding said that they did not plan to apply for any CPD level between 2018 and 2023. A further 21% had not yet decided or still had questions about the new programme.

- a clear majority (56% to 44%) of respondents preferred the costs of CPD to be covered at individual level rather than through absorption into overall membership fees.

- there was strong support (68%) for introducing competencies at Foundation level, though this figure was derived from only a small percentage of those taking part in the overall survey.

- In terms of covering the financial costs, 69% of respondents were in favour of paying an enrolment fee to take part in CPD; 74% agreed to pay some kind of annual fee to remain enrolled; 67% supported paying a fee to have their portfolio assessed.


In the wide-ranging comments submitted, many voiced strong support for the concept. Many also said that they didn’t want CPD to be compulsory, while others voiced a preference for several levels of CPD fees – eg to avoid ‘regressive’ fee structure that might put off those on lower relative incomes. Some also proposed measures to prevent - eg those taking career breaks or maternity leave or on short-term contracts – from losing out in the context of qualification or ‘revalidation’ time periods.

Among those voicing opposition to CPD, most challenged its cost (or wanted costs to be covered solely from existing membership fees), utility (eg, for those approaching retirement) and the value (eg, scepticism that it would help employability). There was also opposition to paying all three of the possible enrolment, annual and portfolio submission fees. 


The new CPD programme has been designed by the dedicated volunteers of ARA’s CPD Steering Group, chaired by Jessamy Carlson. An equally dedicated Pilot Group has helped support the Steering Group on all aspects of the planned programme, from the competency framework to the new programme guidelines and the new online Mahara management platform. The comments in the survey revealed that some members are still not clear how CPD will differ from the current Registration scheme.

CPD represents an overhaul of the ARA’s approach to professional development. It is designed to support members’ professional development throughout their careers and is based on three new category levels (Foundation, Registration and Fellowship). These will replace the current single-level (Registration) scheme.

Also, In line with programmes offered by other professional bodies, CPD focuses on ‘competencies’ – demonstrated on-the-job capability and proficiency - rather than specific, formal qualifications, thereby helping members to demonstrate their employability relative to professionals in other sectors. The ability under CPD to demonstrate specialist and advanced competencies such as project delivery, service development, change management, collaborative working, financial systems (among many others) should also help members applying for senior-level positions.

There is also a new quality control: CPD will require members to ‘revalidate’ their existing level every five years, to show that they have kept competencies up to date. A new online system (Mahara) will enable members and assessors to manage submissions and documents in a more user-friendly way than at present.

Finally, the much-needed challenge of improving diversity in the sector should get a boost from CPD. Members will not have to have a formal degree in order to enrol onto the programme or (ultimately) progress to Fellowship level, opening the door to those joining our community later in their working lives or straight from school.

Next Steps

At its most recent meeting on 28 November, the ARA Board welcomed the clarity of the survey results, the frankness of the comments submitted and the broad degree of support for CPD that they (collectively) indicated. The Board also noted the need to continue to refine the CPD offer in the time left before launch in August 2017 (at the ARA annual conference in Manchester).

The Board has charged the ARA’s Chief Executive Officer and staff to develop detailed financial options for formal decision at its next meeting (on 25 January 2017). There will also be a full communications programme from early 2017 to explain CPD to members and seek further input.

The next meeting of the CPD Steering Group is scheduled for 13 December. The Group continues to welcome feedback from members either directly or informally.