Week 36: Month 18

As with all the previous three-monthly meeting articles, the supervisor and counsellor role is paramount to get the best out of the APC process.

We are now nearing the end of the APC process and supervisors and counsellors need to be attentive to candidates’ needs. The focus in the last few months must be on the candidate and getting them as prepared as possible for final assessment.

I have noticed a general lack of supervisor and counsellor support given to candidates in these last few intense months. Supervisors and counsellors actually need to understand that they work as a team with the APC assessors. They need to confirm their involvement and sign off the candidate’s documents that the candidate is indeed competent.

The assessor’s part of the process is in the one-hour interview where they review and assess the candidate and pre-submission documentation, confirm that the supervisor’s and counsellor’s judgement is correct and agree the candidate is indeed competent.

So, why are so many candidates ‘referred’? The simple answer is lack of supervision and counselling: the supervisor and counsellor not doing their jobs properly and professionally.

In this series I have provided guidance and advice on best practice for all parties involved, but now is the time for the supervisor and counsellor’s input to start to pay off. The good, conscientious ones will give candidates every possible chance at being successful at the final assessment.

Supervisor and counsellors must be vigilant as they review candidate’s documents. Make sure they are technically and professionally competent, and do not use standard phraseology or regurgitated previous submissions. Make sure the RICS checklist is referenced (download it at www.rics.org) and everything required is provided. When mentoring more than one candidate, ensure they all prepare unique individual submissions over the next six months, ready to submit to the RICS to meet the APC critical dates.

Another issue supervisors and counsellors need to think about is the well-being of the candidate. A frank discussion about stress and preparation would not be out of place. Most of us have experienced stress, frustration and panic, so it is worth imparting knowledge to the candidate about these aspects.

Even a well-prepared candidate will be stressed on the day and a little stress is a good thing, because it keeps them sharp. But it is a problem when the stress starts to get out of hand weeks and months before. Supervisors and counsellors should keep a watchful eye on their candidates and be on hand to offer gentle guidance and support.

Summing up, supervisors and counsellors need to:

  • Read the APC and pathway guides
  • Critically review candidates’ records and summaries of the last 18 months
  • Agree on candidates’ levels of competency and make sure they do not shy away from constructive criticism. As a chartered surveyor, anything they agree to puts their professionalism on the line too
  • Discuss the critical analysis and provide constructive criticism to candidates on the basis of the near-complete drafts they should have provided
  • Discuss the APC process in detail with candidates and plan for the next six months
  • Sign off all levels of competency candidates have reached
  • As always, remain vigilant, use available support and give the APC process sufficient attention to deliver it properly.

Next week: month 18 counsellor and supervisor review, part 4 – conclusion

By Jon Lever, managing director of DeLever, APC chairman of assessors, RICS training adviser and RICS licensed assessor trainer. DeLever produces APC resources, training and software: go to www.delever.com

Competency: Fire Safety

On first sight this appears to be a fairly specialised competence. However, as potential chartered surveyors you should not overlook your duty of care when undertaking any inspection and fire safety should be one of your key considerations.

At level 1 you must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the consequences of fire in a building, how it is modified by the enclosure and how the impact may be controlled. You must also demonstrate your ability to apply fire safety principles to practical situations so as to minimise the risk from fire to personal injury or death, physical loss and adverse environmental impact. This should have been covered in your building technology module.
Go back and use the references given as your guide to fire characteristics.

At level 2 you must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the combustion process; the physics and chemistry of fire; the physiological and psychological effects of fire; and the ability to assess means of escape systems according to circumstance, including fire safety management systems.

Note that unusually the first part of this level 2 competence is ‘demonstrating knowledge and understanding’ not the usual ‘application’ and the assessment part only relates to the second part of the competence in escape options.

At level 3 you must demonstrate how you have applied the principles and understanding by preparing a fire safety strategy for a moderately complex assembly or commercial building with multiple uses and a relatively high occupancy.

As with previous competencies, show what options you have considered and why each has been rejected as well as the option chosen with reasoning and make sure you reference your evidence particularly to the legislation and do not forget the regulations.

By Ben Elder, director at the College of Estate Management, the leading provider of distance learning to the property industry. He is a member of the RICS valuation faculty board and an RICS ATC assessor. www.cem.ac.uk