3.4 Continuing Professional Development

The IFA considers that the mechanism for planning and recording an archaeologist's training is continuing professional development (CPD), which allows any practitioner to maintain the skills, knowledge and experience they require to carry out their work.

CPD is a structured approach to maintaining and enhancing an individual professional's knowledge, expertise and competence, and it can take place in a number of contexts and through a variety of activities, not simply by taking formal refresher courses. 'Less structured, but perhaps more job-specific activities such as on-the-job learning, mentoring or writing articles can be seen as equally viable and valuable means of CPD' (Aitchison 2002). The outcomes of the learning – what the learner actually gains – are more important than simply recording the inputs (such as the fact that a person had attended a particular course). Concentration on outputs over inputs allows individuals to decide for themselves whether a particular activity is useful or relevant for their own CPD.

CPD is a personal responsibility, whereby individuals prepare Personal Development Plans, recording what they wish to learn, why, and their programme for implementing that plan. Training can only be relevant to an individual if they recognise that they will learn from it, and so the Personal Development Plan is the key document against which a person's CPD achievements can be measured. Supporting their Personal Development Plan, individuals maintain a CPD log, recording what they have learnt and how it has contributed to their professional development.

"CPD is a personal responsibility, whereby individuals record what they wish to learn, why, and their programme for implementing that plan. Training can only be relevant to an individual if they recognise that they will learn from it"

The IFA has prepared guidelines (IFA 2000b) for its members in the preparation and maintenance of Personal Development Plans, the maintenance of CPD logs and how members should go about securing their CPD. The Institute recommends that members carry out 50 hours of CPD activities in any two year period.

Currently, IFA members have a duty "to have regard to his/her skills, proficiencies and capabilities and to the maintenance and enhancement of those through appropriate training and learning experiences" (note attached to rule 1.4 of the IFA Code of conduct) – and so this is not a purely ‘voluntary’ CPD scheme, but one that is 'obligatory', placing the onus for undertaking CPD on the individual member's sense of professional responsibility, but without bringing penalties for non-compliance in terms of following the CPD planning and recording procedures.

However, it is anticipated that CPD logs will become key documents for supporting an application to join the IFA or to progress to a higher grade, and the IFA will review whether members should be a required to maintain Personal Development Plans to retain their grade. In that case, the requirement upon members to maintain and update their skills – in order to maintain professional competency – will have become compulsory.

To move from this obligation of duty to a compulsory scheme will benefit members with regard to the professional credibility it will bring in terms of recognition that membership proves that an individual is a trained and skilled archaeologist. Furthermore, the IFA strategic plan sets out a vision of the IFA becoming a chartered institute by 2010. To gain this status, it is likely that members will have to demonstrate that their skills are appropriate and up-to-date, with the obvious mechanism for doing so being through the use of compulsory CPD.

However, the results of a postal questionnaire in 2002 (Aitchison forthcoming) suggested that a significant minority of members feel they would have to reconsider their continued membership of the Institute if it moved to having a compulsory CPD policy. However, the results of that questionnaire also indicated that members were in general not well informed about the issues that relate to CPD, and were not well-focused on their own requirements. The Professional Training Committee of the IFA recommended (in the summer of 2002) that the Institute made no further move to make CPD mandatory at that time, but that the IFA should clearly delineate the purpose of CPD and engage in an intensive programme of information aimed at further explaining what is involved.

As discussed under Progressive training, the results of the Defining professional functions and standards in archaeology project will allow IFA members to identify precisely the skills that they feel they need their CPD to deliver.


Last updated: Tue Sep 10 2002

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