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Sue Bridge: Education for Everyone

Sue Bridge FRTPI is the RTPI's Immediate Past President

It will come as no surprise to hear how important I believe Town Planning is for the economic and social wellbeing of our country and communities. It is a vital profession that can unlock untold benefits.

However, it should also come as no surprise to anyone that the current resourcing and pressures facing those in the planning system are making life increasingly difficult. The Planner’s annual careers survey has highlighted that there is a shortage of qualified planners.

This is a problem that RTPI must try to tackle head on and with clear eyes.

The institute has several projects in train such as student bursaries, apprenticeships and ambassador initiatives. But I want to talk to you specifically about Education for Everyone (EFE); a review of our current education policy which is an important component of the 2020 – 2030 Corporate Strategy. The review is necessary because  the context for initial planning education, the profession at large and the Institute has changed significantly since 2003 when the current principles were adopted.

Now entering part two of the project, Education For Everyone is a forward looking project with the objective to broaden access to the pathways into chartership and attracting a diverse and talented new generation of planners.

You can find all the information on the work to date on the Education for Everyone hub on our website. The work so far has concentrated on the Institute's accreditation procedures and guidance and whether they remain fit-for-purpose. We are also looking at opportunities linked to the current APC arrangements and this may mean potential changes to the process, guidance and models of assessment in due course.

No decisions have yet been made on what the future direction of travel will be as we will soon be commencing a comprehensive round of consultation with all those involved across the institute and stakeholder groups, which has already begun with discussions with the planning schools.

What is clear, however, is that we wish to retain the strong principles for initial planning education while supporting expansion of course delivery and numbers of students studying, and completing, planning degrees; removing unintended barriers for students, as well as universities and employers ensuring a strong link to our EDI Change plan.

We are also adamant that this project will not reduce education standards and will retain the Masters level benchmark, which is an important marker for comparable built environment charterships.

As part of our review of the first part of the project the chair of the Board of Trustees asked me to lead an oversight group to keep a tight focus on part two, which trustees agreed to continue in October of 2023.

We hope to have concluded the consultation programme and have a series of recommendations for Trustees by October this year, which if agreed will lead to a transitional phase.

We will keep everyone informed on the progress of the project through our EFE hub as well as engaging with standing committees, members, employers students and recent graduates , Licentiates and other key stakeholders.  This extensive programme of engagement will ensure that the whole process is as transparent as possible. It is of particular importance to me that this is a project that takes into account the views of as many members, as possible. The EFE hub will be updated regularly and you will be able to read about our progress in The Planner in the July/August issue.

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