Newly qualified social worker programmes could be available in all English councils across children’s and adult services as early as the autumn.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families is preparing a structure of guaranteed support and supervision for graduates in their first year of practice in children’s services, following a recommendation by Lord Laming.
Children’s minister Baroness Delyth Morgan confirmed this would be available to final-year students graduating in 2009.
Laming: NQSWs need support
In adult services, the Department of Health is providing £4m for an equivalent scheme providing training and supervision for newly qualified professionals. A spokesperson said this could be rolled out as early as the autumn.
In his progress report on child protection in England, published earlier this month, Laming said high-quality support was essential for newly qualified social workers to develop their confidence and skills in their first year of practice.
He recommended that the Social Work Taskforce, which reports later this year after exploring ways of improving the profession, should make this available nationally.
Ministers want swift action
However, Morgan said the government would be acting immediately. She told Community Care: “The children’s secretary, Ed Balls, was absolutely clear that we want to take steps to improve the status and attractiveness of the profession as soon as possible. This is why we made the announcement on newly-qualified social workers – students who are qualifying now will benefit from this development.”
Morgan promised to increase the DCSF’s investment in training, development, recruitment and retention in children’s social work to improve the profession. The department is currently committed to spending £73m on these areas from 2008-11.
Training and status
In a letter to Laming last week, Balls announced plans to make social work a “Masters-level profession” across all client groups and implement an advanced social worker status in children’s services.
Morgan said the advanced title would be introduced later this year, and further details would be released next month in the government’s full response to Laming’s report. She added that “over time”, all social workers would be able to combine studying for the Masters qualification with frontline duties.
Role of skills councils
The Children’s Workforce Development Council launched the first of three annual pilots for 1,000 newly qualified social workers in 90 local authorities in September 2008.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence is working with Skills for Care to develop the scheme in adult services.
SCIE is consulting on its draft outcome statements, detailing the skills practitioners need to demonstrate competence after the first year of practice. Social work students, newly-qualified social workers and practice teachers and supervisors are invited to comment.
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