Children’s secretary Ed Balls has called on the British Association of Social Workers to resolve its dispute over the national college and back the official development group.
In a meeting with BASW’s acting chair, Fran Fuller, on 12 March, Balls said he reaffirmed his personal commitment towards an independent college but urged the association to pursue a more “collaborative” approach.
Balls revealed his concerns over BASW’s stance in a letter to Allan Bowman, chair of the National College Development Group.
BASW has called a ballot on launching a “UK college” for the profession due to fears that the organisation being developed under the Social Work Reform Programme would not be independent enough.
In the letter, Balls said he understood the “proper concerns” Bowman held over BASW’s position, and backed the decision to invite Fuller to offer an explanation to the group.
He asked Bowman to “reassure” the development group of his personal commitment to an independent college, adding: “Government has no desire to influence the decisions taken by the development group on role, function, remit or reach of the organisation.”
The college development group, which involves employers, academics, and social worker organisations, is planning to appoint an interim chair by June, before officially launching the college next year.
Balls said the group was “the appropriate vehicle to establish the college in its early phases and to ensure the views of the whole sector are represented”.