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Chartership - a new CPD system for a new year

Prof David Manning

Geoscientist 20.12 December 2010/January 2011

David Manning (Professional Secretary) writes:
As all readers will know, CPD is vital for the strength of the profession. What do we mean by CPD? The acronym of course unravels as “Continuous Professional Development” - what we all do all the time, as professionals challenged to solve the problems that those who need our skills bring to us. It is much more than simply attending courses or reading papers; although for many, such activities are useful within a wider framework.

The Geological Society represents our profession, and awards Chartered Geologist and Chartered Scientist status, as well as European Geologist. In so doing, the Society effectively states (to those who are not geologists) that we are a highly professional bunch, and that our Fellows can be relied on when asked to deploy their professional skills. To give this assertion authority, the Society needs to be sure that its chartered Fellows keep their skills up-to-date, and that records exist to demonstrate that.

Two bodies check up on these records – the Science Council, who license us to award Chartered Scientist status, and the European Federation of Geologists, who license us to award European Geologist status. For Chartered Geologist, we audit CPD records internally.

In 2011, all “new” Chartered Geologists will be required to continue to maintain their CPD records, thus joining our “Chartered Scientist” Fellows. All our scrutineers are required to demonstrate their commitment to CPD, by providing a record of activity to Professional Committee. Many long-standing CGeols support the reputation of the profession by participating in compulsory CPD recording, especially those who develop new skills to enable them to respond to new business opportunities. We know there are many more out there who could join those currently in the system, and so strengthen our professional authority.

How do we record CPD? Well, we want a system that is easy and acceptable. The Society’s online recording system is currently being updated, although its basic structure remains the same. We want Fellows to use this online CPD recording system in a way that suits each individual. Many use the ‘Plan-Act-Reflect’ process in CPD. The online system has an initial text box, in which you can record your ‘plan’ for the year. The activity section allows the ‘Act’ part to be captured, and of course included ‘Professional Practice’. This category allows you to reflect upon part of your work that has given your professional ability a boost – we all come across new challenges after which we can reflect and say ‘I learned something from that’. Finally, there is a text box for the ‘Reflect’ component, and of course at the end of the period you can always adjust what the ‘Plan’ box records, in the light of experience.

We know that some Fellows don’t like our points-based system, but a great many do. It is not going to go away. But if you don’t like points, we will not be counting to check how far you have got – please use the online system in a way that suits you. Also, recognising that professional development systems in the workplace create their own CDP documentation, we want to avoid duplication of effort and hope to enable Fellows wishing to upload documentary evidence of career development that might meet both work and Geological Society purposes, to do so. Finally, we recognise that some Fellows take breaks from professional activity for a wide range of reasons. We accommodate such breaks, encouraging those concerned to do as much as they can.

The CPD recording system is completely confidential. For audit purposes, the records are observed only by the Fellowship Services Manager and the Professional Secretary. When used in an application for Chartered status, the Scrutineers look closely at an individual’s record. This system has worked well for many years now, and Fellows can have confidence in its operation.