Fellowship is the ultimate achievement and you must demonstrate how, through your learning process, it has helped you develop as a person and as a skilled practitioner. The SPD is a critical part of your programme and will clearly show what you have learned through the Fellowship programme.
Drafting your Statement of Personal Development (SPD)
The Fellowship assessors will consider your SPD in detail and you should not underestimate the time that it will take to complete.
Your Statement of Personal development must:
- be typewritten in English;
- be clearly set out using the 'categories for assessment' headings below;
- not contain any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors (it helps to have someone else proof read your SPD);
- be 1,000-,1100 words long and include a word count (SPD's without a word count and/or outside of the word count will NOT be accepted);
- represent you in a professional, formal manner;
- review what you have achieved by effectively providing an executive summary of your achievements;
- be submitted with your application for election to Fellowship.
The categories for assessment
Candidates can be, and are, rejected on their SPD. Usually the Assessors feel that unsuccessful candidates do not address adequately each of the sections below - especially the last three. By using the headings and following trhe guidance carefully you will greatly enhance your chances of success.
Listed below are six categories the assessors will be looking at when they consider your SPD. Please use these headings in your SPD to ensure that you demonstrate coverage of all six areas. Under each heading ensure you give enough detail to demonstrate your personal achievements.
This sets out, in two or three paragraphs or approximately 250 words, how you have set about your Fellowship programme and any key changes during it.
You should restate the key points of the plan you drafted on enrolment onto the Fellowship programme and also show how you achieved the objectives set. This should emphasise new knowledge gained and the skills you used to achieve this. You should be able to see some of the effects of this process on your career.
Changes to plan
If your Fellowship plan changed, you should set out what you changed and why you changed it. It may have been for external reasons (e.g., a change of job or other circumstance) or for internal reasons (e.g., you were unhappy with your progress on your major achievement or identified a new opportunity which you wanted to exploit). The effect of circumstances beyond your control should not be ignored and events, which have caused delay, should be identified. If there are no changes to your plan you must make this explicit.
You should also highlight how you were affected by, or made use of, unplanned opportunities that arose. It would be particularly helpful to indicate whether these opportunities were based on situations which you initiated, or unexpected ones which you were able to exploit. How were you affected? How did you make use of these opportunities? If the change of plan was unexpected, were you able to use the pressure to your advantage and provide an innovative solution?
Self learning and awareness
What did you learn about yourself as you progressed to Fellowship? As is stated later, this is the main reason why the SPD can fail. This self analysis is important although it can be dificult to undertake. It should include 'soft' facts such as how you dealt with both negative and positive experiences as well as 'hard' facts such as your achievements.
Key skills and knowledge acquired
During your time on the Fellowship programme you will have learned a number of new skills and increased your knowledge base. List the main items. This evaluation stage deserves special attention as it produces a summary of achievements, which demonstrates how you met your original objectives. For any area where you achieved less than you originally planned, reconsider whether the target originally set remains valid or whether you simply require more time to achieve it.
Intentions for the future
Continuous Professional Development is key to your ongoing professional development. Now that you have undertaken a major achievement and obtained new skills and knowledge through a planned programme you will need to continue your CPD programme. In this section, set out how you plan to use the lessons of your Fellowship programme in the future.
Finally - points to note about the SPD
Before writing your SPD you may find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- What were the most important things I learned and why were they the most important?
- How have I applied new skills and knowledge in my work?
- In analysing the application of these new skills and knowledge, can I produce evidence of the circumstances in which they are applied?
- What other reading and CPD have I done outside my Fellowship plan to improve myself further and what do I now need to do for the future to continue my development as my career progresses?
The members of the Fellowship Assessment Board evaluate every SPD very carefully. The most common reason why an SPD fails to meet the required standard is because it does not demonstrate the candidate's self-awareness. It is vital that your application illustrates what you have learned and in particular what you have learned about yourself as a result of negative experiences. You should not be afraid of admitting that you have learned from your mistakes as well as your achievements. In fact, such candidate's self-awareness is extremely valuable.
It is important that you include sufficient information in your SPD to enable the Fellowship assessors to evaluate your application. Any other correspondence between you and the CII will be kept separate from your application and so the SPD must cover any issue which you feel is relevant to your application. You must include sufficient detail to demonstrate that you have completed all the steps to Fellowship and you should identify how the elements of the application have been useful to you in your work. The Fellowship assessors will also wish to see you demonstrate your ability to reflect on what you have achieved and how you will move your career forward.
Examples of SPDs
The following examples have been presented to the Fellowship Assessment Board. They have been accepted and the candidates are now Fellows of the CII.