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Peter Canavan: Reflections on my first year as an APC Assessor

Peter Canavan is a Partner at Carter Jonas, where he has worked for nearly six years. Before that Peter worked in the public sector for ten years.  

I became an assessor at the end of 2022 because I was looking for ways to be a more effective mentor to my junior colleagues. It’s important to me to support junior colleagues to create strong and sustainable project teams, but also it is very rewarding to watch them grow in confidence and flourish as planners.

As an assessor I was hoping to gain some additional insight into the assessment process, and the judgment that is put into the marking process and especially the evaluation of the criteria for the Professional Competence Statement. 

Also, on a slightly grander scale, I have been a member of the RTPI for over five years and I was keen ‘to give something back’ to the institute and becoming an assessor seemed to be something that was achievable for me.

At the first training session with the RTPI Membership team, I immediately found a wealth of experience, insight, and wisdom amongst the trainers and audience. The range of APC submissions that my now co-assessors have considered was very interesting to hear about.

I met people at the training who were also responsible for guiding and mentoring their junior colleagues. I had a fantastic opportunity to swap notes and talk techniques for ‘graduate programmes’.. Membership team officers were invaluable in helping to support me on my new assessor journey. They have also become an important connection between my organisation and RTPI.

The process of assessing APC submissions was very easy to understand, and the mechanism by which the assessments happen is well practiced – and as I have found out – works very well. At the training session I was introduced to my co-assessor. It was explained to me that at each submission deadline through the year my co-assessor and I would be sent 3 or 4 submissions to review. We would then be able to compare our assessments notes with each other before writing up the formal feedback form. We could divide the work of writing the formal responses as we decided was mutually acceptable. My co-assessor is an assessor of a few years’ experience, so our partnership was created to ensure I had some guidance and we have worked well as a team since then. 

During the training we considered a mock submission and discussed our assessment across the whole room of assessors. While there were some disagreements in judgement it was clear to see that the process of having at least two assessors for each submission, and the membership overview, meant that there was a consistency in the final formal responses.

Since the training, I have reviewed submissions from 3 rounds of APC. My co-assessor and I have considered nine full submissions and some resubmissions. We have been able to communicate our assessment notes via ‘Teams’ chats and emails and have created a strong working partnership. We have found on occasion that work priorities have conflicted slightly with our assessing responsibilities, but the Membership team is well aware that “everyone has other responsibilities” and sets achievable deadlines and can be flexible where necessary. The Membership team is very communicative, and supportive, and whilst I haven’t had to lean to heavily on them as yet, I am confident that they are there, should I need any more support.

I have found my first year as an assessor to be incredibly rewarding. I have seen some great APC submissions, and some very positive responses where ‘tweaks’ are needed by the candidate in a future resubmission. It makes me proud of my profession, and positive about its future.  I have also had some great opportunities to connect with new professional colleagues, representatives of the RTPI, and also old colleagues with whom I had not spoken in more than 10 years!

If supporting junior colleagues, or ‘giving back’ to the profession and the Institute, or wondering about your ‘legacy’ is something that you are considering, I would whole heartedly recommend becoming an assessor as part of your professional journey.        


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