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The Academy
What We Do

Professional Development

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) exists to connect, develop, promote and support parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance, and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth.

Our primary focus is to deliver programmes and projects to our members which are consistently impact-oriented, effective, sustainable, cost-effective, innovative and of the highest standards. Our dual programmes’ strategy comprises of professional development and institutional strengthening. Both approaches are undertaken on a multilateral and bilateral basis to ensure a depth and breadth of learning across our membership.

Our professional development approach centres providing learning and development opportunities for our primary stakeholders, namely Commonwealth parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. We do this through one off learning activities like our Post-Election Seminars or through online training courses, as provided by the CPA Parliamentary Academy. 

CPA Post-Election Seminars

For over 25 years the CPA have conducted Post-Election Seminars for parliaments at a national or sub-national level. This long-standing programme introduces newly elected parliamentarians to differing legislative systems and methods of working. The Seminars usually take place a few months after a general election, in either a physical on virtual format, and are delivered by senior, highly experienced current and former parliamentarians and parliamentary officials from throughout the Commonwealth.

The objectives are two-fold:

  1. To disseminate information on diverse good practices in Commonwealth parliaments as a way of providing options to parliamentarians;
  2. Promote an understanding of the way parliamentary procedures and practices can embed good governance into a system.

Topics covered by the programme might centre on dealing with the media, working in the constituency, as well as how to perform better in committees. 

Since mid-2020, the CPA delivered Virtual Post-Election Seminars with Anguilla, Dominica, Bermuda and Trinidad and Tobago and provided support to the Parliament of Jamaica in their new-Members induction programme. Participants across all programmes highlight a significant increase in understanding of parliamentary practice and procedure.

Specialist Publications

Alongside our regular publications, the CPA Secretariat publishes a variety of toolkits, handbooks, guidelines on specific topics of interest, such as good practice reports on parliamentary and political issues, background information on Commonwealth parliaments, comparative information and recommendations as outcomes from conference or workshops. 

A list of such publications can be found here.

The CPA Parliamentary Academy

The CPA has designed a curriculum of online and physical courses specifically for parliamentarians and parliamentary officials.

These accessible courses offer an adaptive and flexible learning approach. The courses are intended to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to fulfil their constitutional and statutory obligations as well as to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of Parliament in the democratic governance process.

Find out more about The Parliamentary Academy here. 

Pre-Election Support Programmes

The CPA seeks to support newly elected parliamentarians by offering a more holistic, embedded and career-long approach to learning and development. With this in mind, the Pre-Election Planning Assistance Programme has been designed to enable parliamentary officials to assist and effectively plan for the post-election period. The Programme will assist in the development of new-Member induction toolkits, induction training schedules, a new-Members planning group (including all key stakeholders - Whips, political parties, communications teams, procedural offices, etc.) to coordinate planning. As part of this work, in 2020, the CPA assisted the National Assembly of Belize to design a new-Members Handbook.

Awareness Raising Programmes

As well as its core standing programmes, the CPA offers a suite of annual programmes and activities which are centred around awareness raising for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. Parliamentarians have to deal with a vast array of topics and issues on a daily basis. These can range from local issues relating to housing and educational provision, national issues on debt management or environmental policies to global concerns on international trade and cross-border conflicts. Keeping abreast of such a multitude of subjects can be overwhelming for any parliamentarian. The CPA seeks to offer support by delivering webinars, seminars, workshops, conferences, lectures on a variety of such matters. 

In recent years, the CPA's focus has been on the COVID-19 global pandemic, sustainable economic development, impact of Social Media, parliamentary security, climate change, international trade and human rights. 

A principle mechanism the CPA utilises to raise awareness of issues and increase parliamentarians and officials understanding of key issues is at the CPA Annual Conference and the related workshops. To find out more about the conference, head to this page.

In 2021 our focus will continue to focus on these issues, however with a desire to look to future areas of concern and potential benefit to Commonwealth jurisdictions, the CPA will be looking at the 4th Industrial Revolution and its global impact. Look out for our events section to find out about future events and how you can get involved. 

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