Proposals from the Social Work Task Force and the children, schools and families select committee issued in July 2009 would result in a significant shake-up in the landscape of national bodies in social care and social work in England.
In an interim report, the Social Work Task Force backed the establishment of a national college for social work to set standards and provide a strong voice for the profession; while in a report of its inquiry into children’s social work training, the committee called for the establishment of a social work development agency to take control of professional training.
Here we profile two bodies that provide a model for the taskforce and select committee’s proposals, along with the four existing national social care workforce agencies.
In a supportive response to the taskforce’s proposal for a college, junior children’s minister Baroness Morgan suggested it could provide a similar role to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, in offering professionals a voice and a “sense of belonging. Founded in 1996, the RCPCH sets training standards at postgraduate level, issues professional guidance, conducts research, and speaks on behalf of paediatricians and child health professionals in public. Recent guidance issued to its 11,500 members includes materials on safeguarding and child development.
The college defended the profession last month when it emerged that a third of paediatricians had not been properly trained in safeguarding.
Dr Rosalyn Proops, child protection officer at the RCPCH, blamed NHS employers for failing to provide sufficient time to develop and provide the training.
The children, schools and families select committee said its proposal for a social work development agency was based on the Training and Development Agency for Schools.
The organisation is responsible for recruitment, workforce planning, and commissioning and funding teacher training, both pre- and post-qualifying.
Formed in 1994 as the Teacher Training Agency, it was rebranded as the TDA in 2005, and covers England only.
A key responsibility is ensuring a sufficient supply of teachers in line with demands across the curriculum. Using the government’s ‘teacher supply model’, initial teacher training places are allocated according to estimates of demand in different parts of the country.”
Skills for Care was established as Topps England in 1999 and rebranded as Skills for Care in 2005.
Its role in social work is to understand the implications of the personalisation agenda for adult social workers and support employers to meet these challenges.
It hosts the Social Work Development Partnership which works across adult and children’s services to improve the quality and supply of practice education placements and continued professional development. It says it has the “expertise and systems to do effective workforce planning” for adult social work in England, and for all social workers across the UK as part of the UK-wide workforce development body, Skills for Care and Development.
It says its priorities for social work are:-
- Supporting the taskforce to produce a robust plan to develop a comprehensive reform strategy for social work as one profession
- Rolling out the newly qualified social worker programme in adult social work on a national basis
- Improving the workforce information on the adult social work workforce and placement opportunities.
Scie was established in 2001 and its roles in social work are to capture knowledge about good practice, communicate this and thereby contribute to transforming services. It says its current social work priorities are:-
- Improving the quality of social work practice
- Building on the work of the taskforce to promote social work as a confident and attractive profession
- Developing a knowledge-sharing strategy so that social work can access the best-available knowledge through a variety of routes.
Established in 2001, the GSCC registers all social workers practising in England and investigates and sanctions those it finds have breached its code of practice for social care workers. It also registers social work students, is responsible for ensuring the quality of initial social work training and sets the framework for post-qualifying training.
Its current social work priorities:-
- Ensuring risks to public protection are effectively managed by strengthening our conduct function to put it onto a sustainable footing for the future
- Working with government to give the code of practice for employers statutory force, as well as raising awareness among employers of the need to provide social workers with the support and training they need throughout their careers, and report potential misconduct to us and cooperate with our investigations so that we can effectively manage risks to public protection
- Adopting a more rigorous approach to our role in quality assuring degree courses to ensure that they are run to the highest standards and based on partnerships between HEIs and employers.
Established in 2005, the CWDC manages a number of programmes designed to improve the quality of social work practice with children and families in England, including:-
- The newly qualified social worker programme, which provides extra support for practitioners in their first year and will be rolled out across the country in autumn 2009.
- The remodelling social work pilots, which are designed to help reshape working practices to enable social workers to intervene earlier and have more contact time with children and families in trouble.
- The advanced social work programme, under which experienced social workers will be invited from October 2009 to apply for “advanced social work status”, designed to reward staff who of high quality who want to stay on the frontline.
It says these three programmes are its priority for the next year.
Other programmes are designed to improve the recruitment and retention of social workers and attract new entrants into the profession from other industries and professions.