Letters to Community Care 6 May 2010

Letters to Community Care 6 May 2010

Aspect and Unison debate pay

I welcome Helga Pile’s article (Big Picture, p6, 22 April, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/noneed) on social worker pay in which she disagreed with Aspect’s position on the pay system for social workers.

Helga gives two figures to challenge our analysis criticising the NJC job evaluation scheme. She correctly points out that “knowledge and skills” in the NJC scheme account for nearly 40% of total score and that only 8% of each score is determined by management functions.

However, the figures actually make our point. We compared the NJC scheme with the NHS one which gives a significantly higher 48% of the total score to “knowledge and skills” and, unlike the NJC scheme, allows staff to access the higher scores for “knowledge and skills” whether a manager or not.

The same NJC scheme double whammy prevents anyone without a management role accessing the higher levels of the important “initiative and independence” factor as well as the “responsibility for people” factor. That’s why we think that social worker pay aspirations are likely to be dashed, despite the best efforts of this agreement, because the underlying grading mechanism used is flawed.

Roger Kline, social work spokesperson, Aspect


Social work degrees were ‘not failed’

Not only is your article “GSCC fails Manchester and Royal Holloway courses” misleading (news, p9, 29 April, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/114386), it is also highly irresponsible causing needless concern to the hundreds of social work students at these universities.

We did not “fail” these courses. As our Raising Standards in Social Work Education report made clear, during monitoring we identified that some requirements had not been met at these institutions. As a result, an agreed remedial action plan was put in place and implemented at both institutions to ensure full compliance with all standards and requirements.

Once we were satisfied that these remedial actions had been completed both courses were confirmed as continuing to meet requirements. It is therefore inaccurate to say we “failed” these courses.

We’d like to reassure students studying on these courses that their qualification is not in jeopardy. We would have removed approval for these courses if we were not satisfied they met the required standards.

Graham Ixer, head of social work education, General Social Care Council


Royal Holloway department was commended

I am writing to clarify the current situation regarding social work programmes at Royal Holloway (news, p9, 29 April, http://www.communitycare.co.uk/114386).

A review in March 2009, identified concerns about the qualifying degree programmes; the GSCC nevertheless re-accredited these programmes for another five years. Since then, the Department of Health and Social Care has been restructured, has new leadership and new staff with recent experience of social work practice.

A comprehensive follow-up review of the qualifying Social Work programmes was undertaken in January 2010, where the Head of Inspection at the GSCC was present.

The panel commended the department on significant improvements in the design and delivery of the programmes, acknowledging that programme documentation reflected an up-to date curriculum clearly articulating relationships between theoretical knowledge base development, values and social work practice skills.

The new Practice Learning Unit was particularly commended for significant improvements to arrangements for managing placements. The review confirmed that all professional and academic requirements were being met and measures were in place to ensure these remain valid in light of developments in social work education.

The suspension of admissions to the BSc for 2010-11 was not based on concerns about the current delivery of the programme, but to enable the strategic use of departmental resources to consolidate and develop high-quality Masters level qualifying and post qualifying programmes.

Anna Gupta, head of department, department of health and social care, Royal Holloway, University of London


Editor’s comment

Community Care made the freedom of information request about these two universities because it is not helpful for students, employers and future social workers to be told there are areas of concern at two institutions but not which they are. That could create doubt in many minds.

We used the phrase “failed to meet national standards” because we were told that “The two HEIs that were not meeting requirements were University of Manchester and Royal Holloway – University of London. ” That is that they did not meet standards set by the GSCC, a national body.

We also stated that both institutions had put action plans in place in order to remedy the situation.

Bronagh Miskelly, group editor, Community Care

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