Crisis talks to save social work college

The College of Social Work is holding crisis talks with the British Association of Social Workers after the two organisations failed to agree on how a single college should be structured and run, Community Care understands.

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The College of Social Work is holding crisis talks with the British Association of Social Workers after the two organisations failed to agree on how a single college should be structured and run, Community Care understands.

Sources close to both organisations have expressed concern that the agreement to work together, made official through a memorandum of understanding signed in April, is on the verge of collapse.

The two bodies have confirmed they have started a process of third-party mediation, hoping this will enable them to work through “the most challenging issues” and move forward.

It is understood the issues include the College’s tie-up with Unison, as well as unresolved questions about the leadership and structure of the new college.

BASW and the College said they both remained “fully committed” to the creation of a single college. But in a joint statement issued to Community Care, they admitted third-party mediation had become necessary.

The statement said: “As part of our determination to develop a single, unified college, BASW and the College of Social Work have entered into a process of mediation, which we anticipate will enable us to work through the most challenging issues and help us move forward as quickly and efficiently as possible with the formation of a long-term business plan.

“The memorandum of understanding recognised that there are a number of issues which still have to be negotiated and we believe that a process of mediation will help us to reach agreement on them.

“The task of creating the sort of college the social work profession needs is an enormous undertaking and it is inevitable that there will be areas of difficulty to overcome.”

BASW rebranded as BASW – the College of Social Work in January and began promoting itself as an alternative to the similarly-named College of Social Work, which is being developed as part of the social work reform programme in England.

BASW said it was unhappy with the direction the College was taking, including the decision to partner with Unison.

But in April, the association agreed to work towards merging into a single, UK-wide college.

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