The Community Shares Unit (CSU) has introduced a licence for community shares practitioners that authorises them to award the Community Shares Standard Mark on behalf of the CSU. The Mark is awarded to community share offers that meet the CSU’s standards of good practice as set out in the Community Shares Handbook.

Licensed practitioners undergo training and assessment as Standard Mark assessors, and are required to adopt ethical principles and a code of practice, enclosed within the Standard Mark Information Pack. Licensed practitioners may be commissioned to assess the share offer of a society, using assessment templates and methodologies developed by the CSU.

The CSU is responsible for vetting the Standard Mark assessments made by licensed practitioners. It does this using a variety of techniques, including routine monitoring of awards, spot checks, peer review comparisons of share offers and by giving the public the right to make queries and complaints about share offers bearing the Mark. The CSU retains the right to remove the Standard Mark from offers that do not meet its standards, subject to a negotiated review of the offer. It also retains the right to remove the licence of practitioners who breach the following ethical principles and code of practice.


Becoming a licensed practitioner

Practitioners apply to become a licensed practitioner through either the Experience or Training Route.

  • To follow the Experience Route you must have already worked with a society making a community share offer, and be able to identify and describe the client support you provided. 
  • The Training Route requires you to attend five workshops, and to apply what you learn to a client society which is planning to make a community share offer.

Regardless of which route you take, you will be assessed in the same way by completing the client case study assignment. This assignment focuses on the support you have provided to a client society making a share offer. It can be a historical case, or a live case.  

The CSU currently accepting applications for the Spring 2017 Training Programme. Find out more here

What's required to become licensed? 

If registered through the Experience Route, the practitioner completes a case study assignment using a historical or live case. The first step is to complete a Standard Mark assessment for the offer, and to submit this to the CSU, along with all the relevant offer documentation. The offer will be independently assessed by the CSU and the two assessments will then be compared.

The CSU will then identify a range of issues to be addressed in the case study of the offer. The purpose of the case study is to explain the practitioner’s role in supporting the offer, and to demonstrate that the practitioner understands how the offer compares with current standards of good practice. The case study should incorporate reflections from the Standard Mark assessment of the offer.

Those undertaking the Training Route will carry out this the case study assignment in tandem with the training workshops.

Via either route, if the assessment and case study assignment are completed satisfactorily, the practitioner is invited to sign this Code of Practice. If unsatisfactory, the practitioner is asked to revise and resubmit.


What happens once I'm licensed to award the Standard Mark?

If successful, the practitioner is internally deemed as 'probationary' and can offer Standard Mark assessments to their fee-paying clients. The practitioner details are also uploaded to the Practitioner Directory and the practitioner can externally refer to themselves as a ‘licensed practitioner’.

The practitioner needs to complete three share offer assessments (including trial peer reviews) that have to be checked by the CSU in advance of the Standard Mark being offered to the society. The practitioner should take the role of lead assessor in at least one of these, which means liaising directly with the society.

In the case of a live offer, once the practitioner has completed the assessment, they are to send all documents to the CSU who will also assess the offer and then compare to the practitioner's findings. The CSU will aim to provide their report on the assessment within one working week. If the practitioner assessment is satisfactory, they will be informed and then the practitioner will feed back to the society. If the practitioner assessment is unsatisfactory, they should amend and feed back to the society.

Alternatively, the practitioner could request to use trial peer review examples from the CSU if they do not have live offers to work on.

The (probationary) practitioner needs to have three satisfactory assessments, in which there is an agreed result with the CSU. Then they are deemed as 'fully' licensed. This means that they can issue the Standard Mark on behalf of the CSU without requiring advance sign-off from the CSU.

Following this: 

  • The CSU will periodically spot-check Standard Mark assessments to ensure that practitioner standards remain high. 
  • The practitioner must receive a signed ‘Code of Practice for Societies’ before they award the Standard Mark and they must send a copy of this to the CSU.
  • Once licensed, the practitioner should inform the CSU of all Standard Marks that they award.