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Kelly pushes ARB into new uncharted waters

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The ARB is finally about to tie up a deal with the RIBA on the validation ofschools and wants to spread its influence in education once it has done so.

ARB chairwoman Barbara Kelly told the AJ in an interview that the deal,which has been stuck with lawyers,is now 'on the point ofbeing signed and sealed'.She said:'It's a new agreement recognising that the full responsibility for validation ofcourses lies here'.

The new arrangements,to be explained more fully once the two parties have finally signed,are likely to come into effect for the academic year starting next September.Kelly said the key difference is in shifting emphasis from joint arrangements to the ARB .'But that is not to diminish the RIBA role in the new process'she said.'I'm very relieved to have that debate out ofthe way.It allows us to start to consider much more seriously our role in relation to wider educational issues what it is architects need to make sure they're fit for purpose.'

The recent publication ofthe Stansfield Smith Review ofeducation has provided an 'important impetus'to clarify what the ARB requires ofschools,Kelly said.These requirements are likely to cover practical skills 'to give consumer protection',construction and management skills,knowledge ofthe building regulations and health and safety as well as the wider design element.'The interesting debate is how we respond to the need to ensure that architects can deliver their wider societal responsibilities,'said Kelly.

The ARB is also keen to spread the message about the work it does more widely.Last month it unveiled its new-look logo and annual report, both designed by Cartlidge Levine,and is to spruce up its drab offices with a radical overhaul by young architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan.Now it aims to lift its visibility to the public by providing information on commissioning architects and upping links with the National Consumer Council and Citizens Advice Bureaux.'They are immensely important so the public knows we exist'said Kelly.'The public doesn't tend to know about disciplinary or regulatory bodies until they have a problem.My instinct is,ifyou're forewarned, you're forearmed.'

The board also employed public-relations firm Tamesis to handle its communications and aims now to get more coverage in 'serious newspapers' rather than simply the architectural press.And it is about to come up to speed with other bodies such as the RIBA by creating a website on which it will publish the register,its new code ofconduct,and information about the role and responsibility ofthe ARB - though not necessarily a link to the RIBA .It will be at www.arb.org.uk when it goes live early next year.

In the next few weeks the ARB will also:

finally publish its 'tighter and clearer'code ofconduct which features a better description ofwhat constitutes unacceptable professional conduct.Kelly feels the earlier version was 'with hindsight rather too rushed.'

select a new 'chiefexecutive'to replace the previous 'registrar'Andrew Finch.Over 120 are understood to have gone for the job,which is now down to a shortlist ofsix.Kelly says she is hoping for somebody who understands the registration/ regulatory body,has a wider interest in educational matters and who can act as a diplomat and ambassador.Would it be an architect? 'It could be,' she said.

embark on elections for the seven architect members ofthe board to take over in April 2000.

ARB is looking for nominations.

But Kelly herselfis not sure ofher long-term commitment to the ARB .The body's early years have been a 'challenging'time'she admitted,and she may not choose to stand again.'I shall wait and seeif I take it on'she said.

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