27 Jul 2023
by Jen Parker Wooding on behalf of CIfA

Hi everyone! We thought it would be interesting to provide a bit of insight into what the staff members at the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) get up to on a typical day, though after reading this you might be surprised to find that no one day is really seen as typical. The work we undertake spans the historic environment sector and further afield, as a result, is very varied. We consider ourselves very lucky to get to work with a huge variety of people and organisations related to different aspects of archaeology. But first a bit of background, CIfA is the leading professional body representing archaeologists working in the UK and overseas. We promote professional standards and ethics in archaeological practice, provide peer reviewed accreditation, develop and deliver training and CPD, advocate for archaeology and heritage representing an authoritative voice for archaeologists…all of this helping us to achieve our overarching aim of bringing recognition and respect to our profession by maximising the benefits that archaeologists bring to society. But what does all of that look like on a daily basis? Who are the CIfA team and what do we do? We currently number 19 staff members based across England, Scotland, Wales, and Germany. Here are a few examples from some of the team showcasing what they get up to each day. To find out more about CIfA and what we do also see https://www.archaeologists.net/about and https://www.archaeologists.net/organisation/staff


Anna Welch, Professional Development & Practice Coordinator

My job varies from day to day so I might be looking at applications for accreditation of degree programmes or CIfA Approval for employer training schemes.  I could be talking to students or trainees, replying to enquiries about careers in archaeology or putting together bulletins for our Professional Pathways group.  I often work with other members of staff on training and CPD events, as well as running some of the CIfA online chats.  Occasionally I get out from behind my desk to visit archaeological organisations, go to career events or conferences. I aim to help people to start and grow their archaeological careers, and to pass on their skills and enthusiasm to others.

Kerry Wiggins, Senior Membership Services Coordinator

Most Tuesdays from May to February each year I will visit an archaeological organisation with an inspection panel of three other members - usually senior managers from other CIfA Registered Organisations and a historic environment adviser. We meet with the senior management team of the organisation and talk to them about all aspects of the organisation including their quality assurance processes, their archives, publications and staff training. We tour the archives and finds processing area and talk to the staff. We visit an excavation on the same day if possible and look at how the organisation conducts its work and talk to staff or trainees or volunteers, depending on the nature of the site. The inspection panel meet in the late afternoon and decide what has impressed them or where there may be areas for further improvement, and this is then fed back to the senior management team at the end of the day. The subsequent report goes to the Registration committee (Organisations) who decide whether to register the organisation for another three years and gives them recommendations for improvement. With over 80 registered organisations, this keeps me very busy!

Alex Llewellyn, Head of Governance and Finance

I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a typical day and what's going on very much depends on what meetings are in my calendar. Today my morning has involved meetings with work colleagues to discuss survey results and to look at how we can improve our administrative systems. These were followed by external meetings talking about the ethical practice of archaeologists and the CIfA Code of conduct, and then how CIfA can work with others to support the sector on carbon reduction and net zero. This afternoon is meeting-free so other than writing this I’ll be concentrating on writing CIfA’s annual review which will be published at the start of September and reporting on some of the big bits of work CIfA has been focusing on for the past 12 months.

Ellen McNamara, Membership Services Coordinator

I work in membership validation and support the Registered Organisation scheme. Most days start with pre-reviewing and processing new membership applications. I might have some emails asking about the membership application process or have some ongoing applications who I need to get in touch with. I will then look at our schedule for RO inspections and liaise with organisations and panel members to organise inspection days. This could be benchmarking applications, sending out letters of information or arranging practical details like lunch! Depending on the day, I will also have various meetings to attend. For example, this week there was a special meeting of the Advisory Council. I attend all Advisory Council meetings and take minutes.

Kate Geary, Head of Professional Development and Practice

What I love about my job is that there’s generally no such thing as a typical day! I’ve spent quite a large part of today conducting internal quality assurance on apprenticeship assessment, as part of our role as an end-point assessment organisation. This involves checking that the assessment process is robust and reliable and that assessors have conducted their assessments fairly and made valid assessment decisions. It’s an important part of the quality management process but also means I get to hear all about the work apprentices have been doing and see at first-hand how well apprenticeships are working in our sector. On other days, I might be working with colleagues from other professional institutes to align our professional standards more closely with those in the sectors archaeologists work with or exploring how we can better promote the many ways archaeologists deliver public benefit and value to society.

Jen Parker Wooding, Senior Professional Standards & Practice Coordinator

I love the variety that my role affords, daily tasks may involve attending meetings, convening specialist panels to review the CIfA Standards and guidance, developing and delivering good practice guidance and CPD workshops or overseeing funded projects – no one day is the same. My primary responsibility is the Institute’s professional practice initiatives and standards, supporting Kate Geary the Head of Professional Development and Practice. We’re currently undertaking a substantial review of the suite of Standard and guidance documents which means lots of liaison and discussion with different specialists across the historic environment sector – a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about different aspects of archaeological practice! Today specifically I’ve been drafting a proposal for funding to support our work on updating the CIfA Standards and guidance and I will be discussing this in more detail at a meeting later this week that brings together representatives from different organisations to address sector challenges.

Rob Lennox, Policy & Advocacy Manager

There’s no such thing as a typical day on CIfA advocacy, but today I’m working from home and doing some virtual meetings. I’ll start by finishing off yesterday’s last task – reading through a new government consultation on hedgerows. At 11am I’m meeting with an MSP to discuss the new Scottish Agriculture Bill that we want to influence, and we’re seeking to brief them and hopefully get them to ask some questions for us in Parliament later in the year. Before that I’ll do a ‘pre-meet’ with the colleagues from other organisations that will be joining that meeting so that we can game-plan! If I can decompress in time, I’ll join CIfA staff for a quick online chat before lunch and a read of some of the news from the world of Planning with my sandwiches. Then in the afternoon is a meeting on the 21st Century Challenges for Archaeology programme, where I’ll be updating Historic England on my projects and discussing the next one. But first, a cup of tea!

Carl Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager

My first job of the morning is to check CIfA’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Threads) to respond to comments, share posts and keep track of what our friends and partners are up to. Then I write and schedule CIfA’s own social media posts for the day and check out CIfA’s website for any news items or events uploaded by colleagues. Regular catchups with colleagues via Teams take place to keep abreast of CIfA news and events that we could promote as well as updating the CIfA’s Comms Calendar. There is often important information about advocacy to circulate and notice of meetings and consultation opportunities, in addition to the promotion of events and opportunities for CPD. Also using our platforms to share the great work being undertaken by colleagues, registered organisations, special interest groups, members, sector partners and more!

Lianne Birney, Membership Manager

My role varies a lot on a day-to-day basis which does keep it interesting! One day I might be managing the application process, benchmarking applications and allocating panel members for professional review interviews. Another I might be attending the Board meeting to report on an important area of discussion or an Advisory Council meeting to listen to the thoughts and opinions of our members on specific topics. This week I have quite a lot of meetings with colleagues about managing work objectives in relation to retention of members and the Area and Special Interest Groups and met with some of our valued volunteers too, I even managed to fit in a webinar about Neuro-inclusive communications which was very useful. Today I am catching up on emails and finalising the CIfA Client Guide, which we publish every year to help clients to understand archaeological projects and to promote the use of CIfA accredited professionals to undertake the work. There are many other areas I am involved in, but the more general day-to-day work is just as important as the larger projects and helps us to better support our members.

Cara Jones, Senior Professional Development and Practice Coordinator

As with many of my colleagues, no day is the same which is something that I really love about my job! My role revolves around monitoring the skills we have in archaeology, together with developing solutions to solve current and upcoming skill gaps. This work includes developing apprenticeships, qualifications or even just a single training workshop which can provide an archaeologist with an introduction on a topic they can then take forward independently. Working across the UK at a strategic level means I can support collaboration, knowledge share and partnership working between so many different archaeologists, heritage and non-heritage professionals. I really enjoy using my knowledge and experience as an archaeologist to help inform this work.

This week for example, I’ve delivered a workshop on Ethics in Archaeology with my colleague Pete, I’ve written a quarterly progress report for one of our grant funded projects, finished an article for Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy celebration publication, edited a skills survey, reviewed recent Labour Market Intelligence research, started developing a new training workshop to be delivered in Scotland, worked with my colleague Anna to develop a new resource for training placements, and taken part in numerous internal meetings with my colleagues. Seeing it written down like this makes my head swirl! Today specifically though, I’m chairing a meeting looking at skills and specialisms for Northern Ireland’s Archaeology Strategy – Archaeology 2030. Then I’m going to try and catch up with my emails – wish me luck!

Amanda Wood, Assessment Centre Manager

My role is to make sure that we deliver the right assessment for our regulated qualifications, so a lot my work is about the smooth running of all thing's admin! There’s also a big element of customer service and making sure that candidates registered on our qualifications are getting value for money and, hopefully, a really positive experience in working with us. So, I tend to start the day by checking that there are no urgent messages that need responding to and then, well, it depends on what’s going on!

We assess apprenticeship and NVQ qualifications (for apprentices, it’s known as their end-point assessment) and today I’m sending out some results emails for our latest cohort of apprentices, now that all our internal quality checks have been done. I’m also sorting contracts with our training providers for our next two cohorts of apprentices and sending out some guides and forms to make sure that the apprentices are prepared and know what to expect from their end-point assessment. I write a lot of guidance materials! However, this is the culmination of a lot of work on their part, (and their tutors!) so it’s really important that we get it right. I’ve also got to do a bit of research on our NVQ awards so that I can finish an article on our work for this year’s annual review. As well as telling the world about our work for the year, we’re also launching a new name and brand for our regulated qualifications work, henceforth to be known as CIfA Qualifications! Watch this space! Another large part of my role is ensuring that we meet all the requirements of our qualification's regulator, Ofqual. This involves designing and implementing a wide range of policies and processes to support robust assessment. Each year, we have to carry out an internal audit on these and report to the board (and then to Ofqual) and making a start on this is also on my ‘to do’ list this week. Along with making sure that I find five minutes for a cup of tea in the garden as it’s finally stopped raining today!

We hope you've enjoyed this peek into our day to day work - please do get in touch if you have any queries!

Image captions

  • Some of the CIfA team (past and present) taking part in a Mental Health Awareness Campaign during the Covid lockdown in 2020
  • CIfA staff members Ellen and Alex at the CIfA conference in Nottingham talking to John Gater (SUMO)
  • CIfA workshop discussing desk-based assessments
  • Dendrochronology workshop organised by CIfA and Dendrochronicle, funded by Historic Environment Scotland in support of Scotland's Archaeology Strategy
  • Amanda's home office set up complete with her unofficial supervisor, Frankie The Cat!






















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Jen Parker Wooding on behalf of CIfA

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists

Jen is Senior Professional Standards & Practice Coordinator at CIfA. Her work focuses on the management, review and implementation of the Institute’s professional practice initiatives and standards. Jen has undergraduate and post graduate degrees in Archaeological Science and a PhD specialising in Zooarchaeology. She previously worked as a field archaeologist across the UK and overseas.

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