New chief examiner for the AIEMA standard

12th March 2012

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More than 9,000 of IEMA’s 15,000-strong membership of environment and sustainability professionals are Associates (AIEMA). Whether they have achieved Associate membership through taking one of the thrice-yearly open book assessments or via an approved Associate certificate course, they have all demonstrated a good level of knowledge and understanding of environment management and assessment issues, including the business benefits of environment management.

Current take-up and emerging trends have led the Institute to anticipate that the interest in Associate membership will continue to grow throughout 2012 and beyond. Because of this, IEMA is revising the Associate standard to ensure that, with some amendments and a streamlined assessment method, it will continue to serve Associates well into the future.

As part of this change – which will not affect existing Associate members – IEMA has appointed a new chief examiner for the Associate assessment to oversee the marking process, and ensure consistency and excellence. She is Helen Manns, associate dean of region, external engagement and partnerships at Northumbria University’s School of the Built and Natural Environment.

Manns has more than 20 years’ experience in public sector and academic environmental roles and currently holds board positions on the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges and Constructing Excellence in the North East, the regional partner to Constructing Excellence, the organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction, housing and regeneration.

She has also been an Associate assessor, providing her expertise since 1999, when IEMA was first formed. Since then she has marked hundreds of Associate open book papers and was part of a working group that, from 2009, has been reviewing the Associate standard.

“Associate is well established as the minimum standard an environment professional should have,” she explains. “If we want many more people to progress to this level of membership, then we have to be certain that the standard will continue to uphold this reputation. So, as a group, we spent some time looking at the standard and what we now have has even more clearly focused learning outcomes so people know exactly what they will have to do in order to pass the assessment.”

Manns explains her new role as one of quality assurance, which she defines as “having an overview of the whole of the process, from setting the assessment tasks to writing the marking scheme, but also monitoring that standard of marking across all of the examiners, ensuring accuracy and – most importantly – consistency in the marking”. This quality-led approach ensures that the standards and marking systems for Associate membership will continue to provide rigour and credibility.

The revised Associate standard aligns with the IEMA environmental skills map, which was launched last year and which, for the first time, provides professionals with a clear framework to plot accurately their suitability and effectiveness for a role.

Having been involved in the working group to revise the Associate standard, Manns says that, while it is likely to prove challenging, she is very excited at the prospect of her new role beginning in the coming weeks. “I think it’s come at the right time and all of what we are doing will move us forward. So yes, very exciting ... however, I will still be doing the marking as well – I don’t get out of that!”

Claire Kirk, IEMA’s professional standards manager, explains that the Institute has worked with members, the working group, the professional standards committee (PSC) and, of course, Manns to revise the standard, to future-proof the Associate level of membership. “Ensuring that the grade is fit for the future gives me confidence that Associate members will continue to have the knowledge and skills required and valued by businesses today and in years to come,” she said. “I’d like to welcome Helen to the position of chief examiner and thank those involved in the changes for all of their support and hard work.”

Manns’ appointment has also been welcomed by Professor Martin Bigg on behalf of the IEMA PSC. “We are very pleased that Helen has joined us as chief examiner,” he said. “She is already working with the PSC on the new learning outcomes and assessment criteria for Associate that have recently been approved in principle by the IEMA council. We look forward to working with her on the assessment of Associate membership.”

Further details on the changes to Associate membership that are happening throughout 2012 will be revealed in coming issues of the environmentalist.

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