Academic Keith Brown: NQSWs must be consistently rated

An academic has raised concerns over whether newly-qualified social workers will be assessed consistently in new support programmes.

Keith Brown, director of the Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at Bournemouth University, was speaking at last week’s launch of Skills for Care’s programme to provide support for adult NQSWs, which is being rolled out this month.

A Children’s Workforce Development Council programme for children’s NQSWs is also being launched nationwide this month, having been previously piloted.

Both involve practitioners being assessed by employers against “outcome statements”, which detail the skills they should have acquired in their first year’s practice.

No national standards

Skills for Care and CWDC have provided advice on assessing practitioners. However, Skills for Care stresses its statements are not national standards and do not need to be “formally assessed”, while CWDC says employers should have flexibility to determine how requirements are met.

Brown said statements needed to be independently examined, and asked: “How do we know the outcome statements are going to be signed off to the same standard within each council?”

Speaking later to Community Care, he proposed using the consolidation and preparation module of the post-qualifying social work framework to assess NQSWs, which he said would involve external validation.

Practice teachers: schemes are “bureaucratic”

His comments follow concerns from practice teachers that the programmes were “overly bureaucratic” and would add burdens to already stretched managers.

Delegates at last week’s NQSW launch event also queried whether the Skills for Care programme would be recognised within the post-qualifying framework.

Anne Mercer, from the Department of Health’s adult social care workforce development team, said it had tried to make it as easy as possible for employers to link the NQSW programme to the post-qualifying framework.

‘Taskforce needs to examine issue’

She added that the Social Work Task Force, a panel of experts who are conducting a root-and-branch review of the profession in England, would “need to look at how we can embed this in an overall framework for professional development”.

Mercer said she was confident that the NQSW programme would help retention rates and the overall quality of practice, describing it as “a major milestone in the professional development of social work”.

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