Go to main content

Member Grades Review

In 2021, we’re considering some changes to the membership structure of the BPS.

Our current model has been in place for decades and has served our members well over the years. In 2020, we asked you – our valued members – to tell us what you like and dislike about our existing membership structure and how you’d like to see it evolve.

Through the Member Journey consultation, we’ve listened to a wide range of member views and we drafted a number of changes that have already been considered as part of our initial consultation activity.

In response to the consultation feedback, we have redrafted the proposals and we are asking you to consider this revised version.

Read the full briefing on the proposed changes to grades, eligibility, routes, and more.

We’re now ready to hear from all of our members, to check we’ve interpreted your feedback correctly before we make our final recommendations.

You’ll then have a chance to vote on these proposed changes at our AGM in July.

This survey has now closed.

Widening our membership

The BPS has always been attractive to psychologists, but the Member Journey project shows that it's important that we serve all of the professions that make use of psychology. We want to recognise that participation in psychology is widening and embrace these related professions in our membership.

Graduate Membership would be time-limited

Psychology graduates continue to play an important role in our membership and would hold the status of Graduate Member for a period of five years, after which they would become eligible to apply for Membership, on demonstration of continued currency in psychology. Graduate basis for chartership still remains in place.

A focus on competencies as well as qualifications

The majority of members – including the Wider Psychological Workforce – would still need an appropriate qualification to join the BPS. However, we’re proposing that chartership would now take into account competencies as well as qualifications. That means that an experienced professional who can demonstrate a strong portfolio of work equivalent to the outcomes of a qualification can also be considered for chartership. This allows us to offer alternative routes to chartership for those who’ve taken different career paths.

We’d like to change our awards criteria

Fellow and Associate Fellow of the BPS are prestigious awards that have historically been made based on length of service and references from other Fellows and have been restricted to certain categories of membership. In practice, that’s meant it’s only been available to a relatively small circle of professionals. In line with our other suggested changes, we want to maintain the highest standards and eligibility criteria for our highest honour, while ensuring that other distinguished Members, Associate Members and Chartered Members, who’ve also made a significant contribution to our community, can be considered for the award.

In 2020, The BPS completed a detailed research exercise (the Member Journey Initiative) to establish whether our membership model was fit for purpose, and how it could be improved. We spoke to members, reviewed the landscape (including other membership organisations) and explored how the psychology profession has changed since our membership model was first introduced more than 30 years ago.

From this in-depth consultation, we were able to identify 10 key themes which our proposed membership changes must reflect:

Flexibility: BPS membership needs to be open to professionals who’ve taken a wide range of career routes, to prevent people ending up in silos.

Inclusivity and diversity: BPS membership should provide a sense of belonging and status to everyone in our community. Every one of our members should always feel like they’re valued and recognised by the BPS.

Accessibility: The BPS should be open for everyone who uses psychology in their work, not just psychology professionals. We value the experience, expertise and contribution of everyone in our community.

Maintaining standards: We will never dilute our standards, or neglect our existing members. The BPS kite mark will always be a highly-valuable asset to our members.

Equality of membership: There shouldn’t be a hierarchy at the BPS. No type of BPS membership should be any better than any other – simply different – and individually suited to our members’ needs.

Competencies and qualifications: The BPS recognises the benefits of valuing competencies as well as qualifications when awarding membership to make sure we’re not neglecting talented professionals who are contributing to our field.

Alignment of governance: When updating our membership classifications, we need to make sure that we consider the impact on our existing processes and make sure anything we decide is in keeping with the BPS’ values. This includes voting rights and governance.

Fit for purpose: It’s important that different people can enjoy different progression routes. Chartered status will remain desirable by many, but other statuses and membership options may be more suitable for others.

A new narrative: We need to be better at describing the details and benefits of each type of BPS membership, and to avoid the need to summarise everything we do in a one-or-two-word title.

Transparency and simplicity: Our membership must be simple and straightforward for people to understand. Members should be able to easily identify which competencies and qualifications will be needed to join. And members of the public must not be misled by any titles or awards which may be conferred upon professionals by the BPS.

We think our revisions still address the insights we received from our members during the Member Journey consultation and also address the feedback we received from members in the first round of consultation.

But, before we go any further, we want to hear from our members once again to make sure we’ve interpreted your feedback correctly, and to ensure our suggestions are compatible with the principles we’ve already agreed.

One thing is certain, our membership categories need to change and we are keen to ensure we have been thorough in exploring exactly how they should change.

To that end we would like you to consider the revised proposal and we welcome your insight into:

  • what benefits you think these changes can bring to the BPS
  • what risks you foresee in adopting these changes
  • what – if anything – you think we might have missed

Your feedback will enable us to make positive changes for the BPS, for our members, and for everyone in the wider psychological community.

Thank you for your continued support

Please note: these FAQ’s are as of 31 March 2021.

They will be updated periodically to ensure that we answer as many questions as possible for everyone keen to learn about the grades review process and understand what it means for them.

The purpose of the review

  1. Why are we reviewing the member grades?
    Through our Member Journey Initiative in 2020, members told us that our current membership model is not fit for purpose. This is because it currently doesn’t provide any recognition of career development between Graduate status and Chartership, particularly for those who aren’t intending to become Chartered, and it does not reflect the modern range of professions that make use of psychology

The process – who decides?

  1. Who is leading on the work from a member perspective?
    The Society’s Member Board is leading this work and has set up a Task and Finish Group, made up of members, to lead us through each stage of the consultation. The Member Board works with Board of Trustees to inform and engage throughout this process. The chair of the Member Board is also a trustee. We are also engaging with the other strategic boards in the society for their views.

  2. Do I get chance to vote on this?
    Yes. There will be a ballot for all members who have the right to vote and the result will be announced at an EGM in November 2021. We encourage you to share your views with us before then to help us shape a proposal that is fit for the society’s future. Your vote is your own personal vote and you must vote as you feel appropriate. While member networks are being consulted on this work and asked for opinions, you do not have to vote in any given way, only the way you feel is appropriate.

  3. Why is the Privy Council important to this process?
    As a Chartered organisation, any changes to the BPS membership structure will require updates to our Statutes. All requests to update our Statutes must be approved by the Privy Council after a full ballot of our members.

Where are we now?

  1. What work have we done already?
    We agreed a framework for the review through the Member Board in August 2020 and established a Task and Finish group, made up of a number of members from across different domains and grades, under the oversight of the Member Board. This is very much a co-creation process. We have reviewed the landscape from a benchmarking point of view and looked at what works effectively in similar organisations, including international bodies, along with relevant UK bodies. We have also looked at the different nations’ contexts, taken into account employer organisations’ needs and explored how the psychology profession has changed since our membership model was first introduced more than 30 years ago, and since the society ceased to be the regulator. From this in-depth consultation, we were able to draft an initial proposal that the Member Board and the Board of Trustees agreed was ready for an initial consultation. We took this proposal to a series of member focus groups in February this year. As a result of those conversations, we have made changes to the proposal. The Member Board and the Board of Trustees have approved these changes to be taken to another round of consultation on the revised proposals.

The consultation process

  1. When did we launch the first consultation and the opportunity for members to be involved?
    We launched the first consultation on 2 November 2020. There was a news item on the BPS website and we contacted approximately 13,000 randomly selected members with the opportunity to join a focus group.

  2. How wide was the first consultation?
    In February 2021, 125 members (of just under 13,000 members randomly selected for invitation) attended independently facilitated focus groups to consider the proposal and offer their views. The members were drawn from all current membership grades, with representation from all four nations and international members. The conversations were structured to highlight the main changes from the current arrangements and the responses were analysed by theme. These were in-depth conversations, and they were a first stage discussion to help build on the initial work by the Task and Finish group. We made a number of changes to the proposals following this initial consultation. This next stage of consultation is very broad, and will involve multiple different groups of members, all member networks and specific employers.

  3. How wide is the second consultation?
    The second round of consultation will see 10 further focus groups, again across all grades and locations, including seeking the opinions of some of those who took part in the first round of focus groups. There will also be dedicated sessions for member networks allowing all networks to have committee led discussions and feedback on the thoughts and views of the changes and offering an areas of improvement or consideration to be taken into account. We will also be speaking with Higher Education representatives and former members. Additionally, we have consultations underway with key stakeholders across the psychological workforce. We will also be holding an all-member consultation in May 2021. We will write to all members, and there will be a dedicated webpage with information on the proposals and opportunities to feedback in different ways. Finally, we are talking to a range of key external stakeholders including employers, other professional bodies and influential organisations who may be impacted or have an interest in these changes.

  4. How much did we change from the first consultation?
    In the first proposal, we suggested removing Graduate Membership as a grade, but feedback showed that the Graduate Membership grade was still important to members immediately following graduation, but not for the longer term, and that removing the grade completely would not be appropriate at this time. In this second proposal, we are looking to keep Graduate Membership for those within five years of graduating, and to make the proposed new grade of Full Member accessible for graduates to progress to as their career develops. It also became clear that a dedicated grade for the wider psychological workforce and the growing area of wellbeing practitioners would be welcomed, so we’ve designed a proposed grade of Associate Member for this group of professionals. The proposal to rename membership grades to membership categories has been removed following a broad agreement from participants in the first round of member consultation. It was felt that it did not communicate the desired message that all members are equal in value while recognising differing depths of expertise and knowledge in psychological specialisms.

  5. In terms of who needs to be consulted within the Member Networks, is it the whole of their Network, or just the committee?
    It is flexible for each network to pursue the engagement with members as they see fit.  Many are quite different in scale and how they operate, so we do not wish to be prescriptive.  However, it is worth remembering there is a member wide consultation for all members, so you do not need to go as far as consulting everyone – a representative sample is sufficient at this stage.

  6. When do those involved need to communicate with their network members and get feedback?
    As part of this consultation we invited the member network committees to put forward representatives to attend a briefing on 8th April in preparation for allowing all of you to have conversations together about the grades and for your nominated representative to feedback to us during a session on the 4th May but with an opportunity to provide further written submissions on the 12th May, including the issues, risks and opportunities you may have in relation the grades. Those further written responses can be sent to [email protected].

  7. When will members see the final proposal that will be voted on?
    The proposal will be in the statutes and will be posted on the website following an announcement in the Psychologist. They will be published with a clear resolution

  8. Will students get a vote?
    Yes students will be eligible to vote.

Impact for members

  1. Will my member benefits change?
    We’ve not yet started on this work in detail as it will depend on the agreed member grades structure. However, this exercise gives us the opportunity to make sure the benefits align to the needs and wants of the different groups. Member benefits are likely to change for the better as a result of what we learned through the Member Journey Initiative - as the membership grades will be fit for purpose, so will the benefits and services offered as part of this. It is our intention to deliver tailored and relevant member benefits to enhance the membership experience. Member networks will continue to provide tailored support for the areas they serve.

  2. Will the cost of membership change?
    Membership fees are reviewed annually and have not changed for more than three years. However, if membership fees do change it will not be as a result of this process, but will be about us delivering better value and hopefully ensuring a simpler and fair structure.

  3. Is this going to affect my current progression to Chartered status?
    Any members on a current path to Chartered status won’t be affected by this review and existing routes will continue.

  4. Will standards of entry to Chartership be diluted as part of this process?
    There are no changes to the entry standards for Chartership. The existing routes into Chartership will remain and there will be no changes required of accredited programmes because of this grades review. Through the Member Journey Initiative, members also told us that we should consider creating additional routes to Chartership that do not rely on a traditional educational pathway. Devising such a competency-based route would not change the standards required. Designing the route would be an exercise that is undertaken with members and which would be subject to full quality assurance and governance procedures. That work would be separate from the changes to member grades proposed here and each project does not affect the other.

  5. I am a PWP – how does this affect my membership?
    As a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner, you would be eligible to be an Associate Member of the society under the current version of the proposal. As you develop in your career, you may well add additional clinical competencies and perhaps research or managerial skills in your professional capacity. The intention is to make the Full Member grade available to members who can demonstrate those further competencies. If the approach is accepted, we will launch a separate member-led project to define what thosecompetencies should be, and how we would assess them. At this stage, we are just proposing that PWPs have an initial home as Associate Members and that we would need to find ways to enable progression to reflect professional growth.

  6. I am a Fellow or an Associate Fellow, what does this mean for me?
    Fellowship (i.e. Fellow and Associate Fellow) comprises titles currently identified within the BPS member rules. However, it is our intention to include within the consultation process the question of whether or not Fellowship should be formally recognised as a grade rather than just a title in the future. Should the outcome be that Fellowship and Associate Fellowship becomes a grade is appropriate, then transition arrangements will be made for those existing members. Existing Fellows or Associate Fellows will not lose their titles as a result of this change to the grades structure.

  7. Under the proposals I’ll remain a Graduate Member - will my designation change?
    The designation will be amended to GMBPsS.

  8. I’ll become a Full Member under your proposals, what will my designation be?
    As a Full Member you’ll have the designation MBPsS.

  9. I have international qualifications - will I still be able to join or upgrade my current membership?
    Under the current structure, we already have a process to assess membership eligibility and this will continue going forward.

  10. I am a current Graduate Member - will I lose this status?
    Under the current proposal, those whose eligibility for Graduate membership has been gained within the last five years would be able to retain Graduate Membership until five years after graduation. After five years, or sooner if you’re ready, you’ll then have the opportunity for progression to Full Membership. In a transition to the revised grades, all other Graduate Members would move to become Full Members.

Next steps

  1. How do I keep up-to-date with the member grades and where can I find more information?
    We will be holding an all-member consultation in May 2021. All members will be contacted and there will be a dedicated webpage with information and opportunities to feedback using different methods. Each month, the Director of Membership and Professional Development provides updates on the grades review in her blog. If you want to keep updated, watch out for the Member Update issued by email at the end of each month.

  2. When will any changes to grades be made?
    Any changes resulting from this review will be subject to approval by the membership. Those members will be eligible to vote will be able to do so through a member ballot which will take place in the autumn. The outcome of the ballot will be presented at an EGM planned for the 4th November 2021 and subsequently submitted for approval by the Privy Council. That process takes time, so we do not expect changes to be implemented before January 2022.

Top of page