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Ethics and professional scepticism: an overview for employers

Ethics is more than just knowing the rules around confidentiality, integrity and objectivity. It’s about identifying ethical dilemmas, understanding the implications and behaving appropriately. Ethics is integrated throughout the ACA qualification to develop students’ ethical capabilities – so they’ll always know how to make the right decisions and justify them.

Your students will develop their ethical capabilities throughout their ACA training in a number of ways. They will need to complete an online Ethics Learning Programme, an assessment and discuss their ethical progress, including real ethical scenarios and example scenarios, with you at each six-monthly review.

Ethics Learning Programme

Students are required to complete this Ethics Learning Programme within 12 months

Six monthly reviews

Ethics within the exams

Ethics is examined in context within all 15 exams of the ACA qualification. The ethical elements of each exam can be viewed within each module syllabus.

It is recommended that your students’ aim to complete the online Ethics Learning Programme and the assessment before they attempt the Case Study.

Ethics within the workplace

Having learnt the basic ethical requirements within each ACA exam and the online Ethics Learning Programme, your students can then apply these skills and principles in practice. This can be done within their daily practical work experience and also within the ethical elements included in some of the professional development ladders.

Six-monthly reviews

It is a requirement of the ACA training agreement that you meet your students at least every six months. These meetings are to discuss and monitor their progress on professional development, ethics and professional scepticism, practical work experience and exams. It is your student's responsibility to update their records within their online training file.

Before each six-monthly review, your students should complete at least two modules from the online Ethics Learning Programme. During the review, your students should present their findings on at least one scenario. This will then be discussed and debated with you.

In addition, you are also required to discuss a real ethical situation with your students. You can find examples in the press, the workplace or you may have experience of other real scenarios. Just bear in mind that the examples must be relevant, real and could impact the students at work, so the discussion is preparing them for their career, in case they face a similar situation in the future.

Your student’s ethics and professional scepticism log

Your students need to log their progress within the ‘Ethics and professional scepticism’ tab of their online training file.

1. Students should complete one or more modules of the Ethics Learning Programme in advance of each six-monthly review.

2. After each module of the Ethics Learning Programme, students should then review the accompanying Ethics in Practice scenarios, they should prepare three scenarios for their six-monthly review. 

3. Using the ‘Add ethics review’ button within the online training file, students log their progress since their last review, and they enter details of the review itself.

4. When students have completed the Ethics Learning Programme, they are to obtain approval from you to attempt the ethics assessment. They are also required to discuss at least one ethical scenario with you.

5. Only at the end of your students training agreement can you sign off the ethical requirement of the ACA, this includes taking all of the above elements into consideration and they have achieved 70% or more at the ethics assessment.