The Social Work Reform Board is likely to begin this summer trialling models for an assessed first year in employment for newly qualified social workers.
The reform board has asked Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council to test possible models for the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) over the next year. It is hoped the system will be piloted throughout England from September 2012.
Reform board members will next week decide whether to press ministers for the assessed year to be made compulsory.
Currently, newly qualified social workers can begin practising on the most complex cases as soon as they pass their degree. In an interim report in 2009, the Social Work Task Force found too many NQSWs “were being ‘thrown in at the deep end’, leading some to ‘burn out’ and eventually leave, exacerbating the problem of high staff turnover”.
However, the ASYE, one of the taskforce’s recommendations, would support graduates during their first year of practice, through protected caseloads and guaranteed supervision.
“It would require legislative change,” Moira Gibb, chair of the board, said at Community Care Live. “We will go to [the government] later this year with the costings and implications.”
Skills for Care and the CWDC intends to consult employers on the current programmes of support for newly qualified social workers. “Between this summer and probably spring next year, there will be detailed work going on with employers to help us test and develop models of assessment, including cost implications,” said Graham Woodham, Skills for Care’s regional development manager.
His counterpart at the CWDC, national programme manager Rebecca Leete, added: “The intention is that this will be a consistent national framework for England.”
The Health Professions Council will next year take over social work regulation, but details of how the ASYE will be linked to registration are yet to be decided.
Options being considered for the ASYE include a system whereby graduates must pass an assessment at the end of their first year in order to join the register, but this would require legislative change.
Alternatively, the ASYE could be introduced as an accreditation system, under which a mark would go next to a social worker’s name on the register if they passed certain requirements. In this case, their registration would not depend on passing the assessment.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said a statement on the ASYE was due to be published on the reform board’s website within the next week.
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