College of Social Work interim co-chairs Maurice Bates and Corinne May-Chahal register their disappointment over the College’s current disagreement with BASW
Now that we have launched our drive for the future founder members of the College of Social Work, we look forward to a new era for social workers. Our top priority is to create a college which is led by social workers and accountable to the profession whose interests it will wholeheartedly champion.
That is why we are dismayed by the British Association of Social Workers’ decision to set up a rival college. BASW has chosen to divide the profession when it should stand united to meet the challenges which confront it, including spending cuts, new developments in government policy and the urgent need for social work to improve its public and media image.
What social work needs is sound leadership, a strong voice and a champion of high standards, and we still hope that BASW will join us in these aims.
Our prospective founder members will have the chance to make a real impact on social work and its future. In other professional colleges members lead the way in developing policies, influencing government and media, and raising professional standards. We want nothing less for social workers.
The Social Work Task Force was clear about the challenges. “Social workers are unsure about where to look for leadership of their profession, and for representation in the policy debates that shape practice and conditions on the frontline,” it said.
It is precisely these challenges that the taskforce said the college should be set up to meet. First, the College will provide professional leadership, as well as a range of membership services to support social workers in their professional practice and a new arrangement with Unison under which the union will provide employment representation.
The services we intend to offer are listed on our website. But we do want to emphasise the major investment we will make in professional practice information, a professional service to improve public confidence in social work, and in taking forward the work of the Social Work Reform Board on standards to make sure these are embedded in how employers support social workers throughout their careers.
Our founder members will be the basis of the college when it opens formally next year. Not only will they develop and lead it, but the time they give to it will be rewarded with continuing professional development hours and an attractive founder member services package.
We want social workers to join us in building a College of Social Work of which the profession can be proud. Our prospective members will have a crucial role and we look forward to working with them.
Maurice Bates and Corinne May-Chahal are the co-chairs of the College of Social Work
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