IfA and Charter
Charter: what will it mean?
IfA’s Petition for a Royal Charter of Incorporation was considered by the Privy Council at its meeting on 11 February 2014, and Her Majesty the Queen was pleased to sign the Order of Grant.
This huge step forward for the Institute will have a profound impact on the profession and how professional archaeologists are perceived by peers, colleagues, clients and the public. Several formalities need to happen before the new Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) comes into being and the change of name happens, including drawing up the Charter on vellum, signing and the application of the Great Seal. This gives time for IfA to set in train all the processes required to complete this momentous transition.
The decision is a spectacular endorsement of the role of archaeologists. IfA successfully made the case to the Privy Council that archaeology is a clear and distinct discipline working in the public interest. IfA established that IfA’s accredited members subscribe to an ethical Code of conduct, have demonstrated their competence and made a commitment to developing their skills through Continuing Professional Development, and are subject to the oversight of their peers – the essential elements of professionalism.
We have also shown the Privy Council that we have robust and fair processes for accrediting individuals and organisations, measuring compliance with standards, and for investigating allegations of unprofessional practice; and we have set out a sound, efficient and transparent structure of governance – the necessary components of any professional institute seeking recognition.
How did we get there?
In October 2011, members authorised Council to submit an informal application to the Privy Council to Charter the Institute. That informal application received positive feedback, at which point IfA’s Solicitors prepared a draft Petition and Charter which was formally submitted to the Privy Council Office following support from members at the AGM 2013. IfA’s Petition for a Royal Charter of Incorporation was considered by the Privy Council at its meeting on 11 February 2014, and Her Majesty the Queen was pleased to sign the Order of Grant. The Charter will come into effect as soon as the Great Seal has been applied to the vellum copy. Then we can take steps to set up the new Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.
Why has IfA become Chartered?
Becoming a chartered institute will significantly raise the profile of the Institute and the archaeological profession. It brings us in step with other chartered professions such as architects, planners, surveyor and engineers etc and in turn it will raise the profile of accredited members of the Institute. Achieving chartered status for the Institute has been in our Strategic Plan for a long time, and has been something members have been keen to pursue.
What does Charter mean for IfA now?
At the moment, it is the Institute itself that will be Chartered and not its individual members (see below). In the past Royal Charters were the only means of incorporating a body (turning a collection of individuals into a single legal entity). Now this can be done through other means, such as becoming a registered company, so the granting of a Royal Charter is comparatively rare. New grants of royal charters are ‘reserved for eminent professional bodies or charities which have a solid record of achievement’ (see Privy Council website).
This is a significant step forward for archaeology as a profession and is something to celebrate, but is not the end of the process. Members of other professions will recognise the stamp of charter and look for individuals and organisations who are linked to chartered bodies but we still need to work with members, Registered Organisations and colleagues across a range of bodies including the National Agencies, ALGAO and FAME to ensure that the grant of Charter brings real benefits to the profession.
What will change?
Right now, nothing formal as far as our constitution and governance is concerned. The Privy Council has made an Order of Grant but the Charter will not come into effect until the Great Seal has been applied to the vellum copy. Then we can take steps to set up the new Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. This will be a new body governed by the new Charter and by-laws, and the current Institute will cease to exist. A date for this will be announced when we are clearer on what the timescales will be. The intervening period gives us an opportunity to ensure as smooth a transition as possible to the new body for our members.