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Life-long learning must be more than mere box-ticking

Words:
Neal Shasore

Post Grenfell emphasis on accountability will help secure architects’ professional status, says London School of Architecture's CEO Neal Shasore, as it launches 'Part 4'

Richer learning experiences will help create open minds, says Neal Shasore, CEO of London School of Architecture.
Richer learning experiences will help create open minds, says Neal Shasore, CEO of London School of Architecture.

The Grenfell tragedy revealed some intrinsic failings in the construction industry; for architects, it showed an immediate need to demonstrate ongoing competence, and provided the stimulus for the RIBA’s Way Ahead framework. Architects should welcome this emphasis on accountability: proof of up-to-date competencies could help to secure their precarious professional status.

At the same time, some fundamental challenges have been levelled at the UK architectural education system by the ARB. The question of students’ preparedness for practice remains a hardy perennial. Life-long learning is moving up the agenda, driven by a faster pace of technological change, and because knowledge and skills will be repeatedly superseded over longer career spans.

Amid all this flux is the prospect of evidenced innovation in teaching, growing and sustaining diverse routes into practice, and supporting learning needs with imagination and criticality. These are the underlying motives for the London School of Architecture’s ‘Part 4’ – a programme of modular short courses aimed at professional practice. They are design-led, with group tasks and a mix of in-person and online teaching. Architecture has been mildly snobbish about virtual learning, but other professions have been quick to recognise the possibilities of educational technology.

Professional development should not burden practices with another obligation that offers little reward, or bludgeon students with rote learning

We’re attentive to market need and regulatory requirements, so our course on fire safety, for example, will prepare architects for the RIBA’s mandatory Health and Life Safety competence test. Our heritage course will open up new business opportunities and support applications to the RIBA Conservation Register. The idea is that professional development should not burden practices with another obligation that offers little reward, or bludgeon students with rote learning; this is a space of imagination with the energy of design studios within an architecture school.

We think the new models we are piloting could inform architectural education more generally, helping to make it more flexible, and thereby more accessible. We believe that such rich learning experiences will make people much more receptive to the discussion about competence, the foundation for something more important – excellence. 

Neal Shasore is head of school and CEO at the London School of Architecture

Visit RIBA Academy to see the range of professional education opportunities provided by the RIBA

 

 

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