Log on to learn

Lynne Berry   is chief executive of the General Social
Care Council, the regulator of the social care workforce in
England. She also sits on the Better Regulation Taskforce and is
chair of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Registration affects every social worker in England. More than
55,000 social workers are already registered, with registration of
a further 10,000 in progress. But gaining your registration
certificate is just the first step in the development of your
professional status.

A key condition of registration, now a legal requirement for social
workers in England, is that social workers keep their skills and
learning up-to-date and continue to build their skills base. This
is referred to as post-registration training and learning (PRTL)
because of its important link with your registration status.

Registered social workers already hold a recognised social work
qualification or equivalent, often at graduate or postgraduate
level, or an additional post-qualifying award, with perhaps years
of experience. So why is there a need to continue training and

The skills of social care workers are so important to the quality
of their practice that training is not just linked to securing and
renewing registration, it is required more widely in the sector. In
fact, every social care worker must take responsibility for
maintaining and improving their knowledge and skills. This is an
obligation laid out in their codes of practice.

Registration provides an additional layer of assurance to service
users. It demonstrates not just initial qualification but
commitment to professional development. Training is essential to
keep standards high in the delivery of care. Linking registration
with ongoing training helps to ensure that your registration status
is meaningful in terms of your skills and commitment.

The requirements for PRTL are set out in the registration rules
that are on the General Social Care Council’s website. Every
registered social worker needs to complete either 90 hours or 15
days of study, training courses, seminars, reading, teaching or
other activities during the three-year registration period. Not
doing this could affect the GSCC’s decision to re-register

The GSCC has not been prescriptive about meeting the requirements
as it recognises the necessity for some flexibility in how
registrants go about securing their evidence to show that they have
participated in the 15 days’ PRTL.

There is a range of activities you can do to meet the learning
requirements that advance your professional development or
contribute to the development of the profession as a whole.
Activities could range from reading sector magazines, attending
training courses or seminars, to teaching or studying for a

The important factor is that all learning activity undertaken
should be relevant to you, your needs and your role. It would be
helpful to plan what learning outcomes you hope to achieve and
discuss them with your line manager or a professional supervisor to
ensure that it supports your professional development and ties in
with organisational or team objectives.

We expect social workers to choose training and learning activities

  • Will add value to their involvement with service users and
    their carers.
  • Will benefit their current employment.
  • Will benefit their career progression.
  • Reflect their preferred learning style.
  • Make the most of the learning opportunities available to
  • Form part of their professional development.

For example, you could arrange to shadow the work of a colleague
in a related team or profession. Or you could negotiate protected
time to research the latest policy and good practice developments
in your field of practice, or undertake a piece of research related
to your practice.

Studying for a post-qualifying award is an excellent way to meet
the PRTL requirements and gain recognition of your training. In
February, the GSCC launched a framework for the qualifications
which will ensure that they fit well with the new social care
landscape, the new social care degree, and equip social workers for
the challenges of working life today. While you will not be able to
start on the new qualifications until 2007, all qualifications in
the current framework remain valid.

Most of you will by now have received your registration
certificate, and enclosed should be a form to help you detail the
training you’ve undertaken. It is essential that you keep a record
of your training though as you could be asked to provide evidence
when you come to re-register. You can undertake all of your 15
days’ training and learning in one year of the registration period,
or decide to spread it out over the three years, completing five
days’ training and learning per year – whatever works best for you
is fine.

Post-registration training and learning is a new concept and
process. With every social worker now going through the
registration process, the GSCC is committed to ensuring that the
PRTL policy works for the sector’s optimal benefit.

In the months ahead, the GSCC will be committed to working with
registered social workers, their employers, training providers and
the sector as a whole to refine PRTL and ensure the best guidance
is available.

Over the next three years we will continue to listen to the views
of RSWs and employers on the requirements for re-registration and
feed that into the requirements in the future. Make sure you are
familiar with the requirements that already apply. Social workers
already undertake a great deal of training and learning, so meeting
the requirements should not be difficult. The earlier you start,
the better skilled you will be and the more you’ll be able to give
back to the social work profession.

  • More information on professional development is available at
    this week’s Community Care Live as well as from the GSCC. You can
    hear more at the GSCC’s session at Live or visit its exhibition
    stand. Its website is www.gscc.org.uk, e-mail
    registration@gscc.org.uk or telephone 0845 070 0630.

Sign up for post-registration training and learning


This week, Community Care launches a unique service for all
professionals registered with the General Social Care Council: a
free, personalised online facility for storing and recording your
learning in order to meet post-registration training and learning
(PRTL) requirements, writes Polly Neate.

At the end of the registration period of three years, before 
re-registering, all professionals will have to demonstrate that
they have spent 15 days increasing their professional knowledge and
skills. Many different activities can be included in the required
PRTL total.

The new service from Community Care enables individual
professionals to create a password-protected training log, which is
as flexible as the GSCC’s PRTL requirements. 

The service also provides questions for discussion in teams based
on Community Care’s weekly “knowledge zone” articles. Suggested by
our expert academic, policy-maker and practitioner authors, these
discussion questions and the time guide for discussion also
provided on the site, will allow each member of the discussion
group to enter their own learning outcomes which can contribute to
meeting the PRTL requirement.

The service also provides a matching service for those who wish to
shadow a fellow professional in their job – another way to prepare
for re-registration.

At the end of the registration period, the log can be
electronically mailed direct to the GSCC. It can also be mailed to
managers or colleagues. You can also use the log to record your
learning from training courses, conferences and events – including
this week’s Community Care LIVE. 

Visit www.communitycare.co.uk/prtl
and create your training log. The service has been designed for
maximum usability. Once you have entered the registration details
and chosen your password, you’re ready.

GSCC head Lynne Berry, says: “Training is essential in keeping
standards high. You may find it helpful to build learning
opportunities into your daily routine and create a portfolio of
your training and new skills.” 

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