Continuing professional development is the key to retaining good social workers, says College chief

Professional development must not stop on the day you qualify, Annie Hudson tells social workers in Kent

Annie Hudson
Hudson: We need more clarity and engagement. Photo: Ken McKay/Rex Features

By Rachel Carter

A national framework for continuing professional development (CPD) will be essential to recruiting and retaining high-quality social workers in the future, the chief executive of The College of Social Work said this week.

Speaking at the launch of Medway council’s new social work academy in Kent on Monday, Annie Hudson told social work professionals that a CPD framework should encourage flexibility and, most importantly, improve outcomes for service users.

She said: “I don’t think careers have linear trajectories; people need to develop different kinds of expertise depending on the roles that they occupy and the roles they move in and out of.

“If we don’t capture and get a grip on CPD then I think we will continue to have problems about morale, improvement and quality.”

Hudson’s comments follow the government’s recent pledge to produce a comprehensive CPD framework for social workers in England, which was prompted by two reviews into social work education.

She told social workers at Medway that they needed to have a “sense of their own responsibility” and that “professional development must not stop on the day of qualification”.

She said she hoped to see the development of a “much better and more robust” model for supporting social workers throughout their careers, such as that being developed by Medway.

The new academy is the result of a close partnership between Medway council and two local universities, the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University.

The council is trying to turn around its looked-after children and child protection services, both of which received inadequate ratings from Ofsted in 2013.

Barbara Peacock, Medway’s director of children and adult services, said the council was luckier than many other areas to have such a good relationship with the local universities.

Professional development will be at the centre of the academy and training and development faculties will be available to both newly qualified and experienced social workers.

“You don’t do social work in order to make millions, you enter social work because you want to make difference,” said Peacock. “We will pay a decent benchmark salary, but we also support social workers to be great professionals.”

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3 Responses to Continuing professional development is the key to retaining good social workers, says College chief

  1. Lindsay April 8, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    Sadly Medway Social Services are clutching at straws to build a robust work force. It had a good reputation and attracted competent staff some 10 years ago. As Barbara states you don’t do social work to earn millions but no pay rises in medway for some 4 years! Who is making the millions? Barbara I believe is receiving good pay. It is rumoured that by the end of the year she will move on. There are still service and group managers that have been in Medway that need moving on to allow fresh blood and a different over view. Then Barbara you will see experienced competent workers join. CPD needs looking at, universities are not great at assessing good social workers. On the job training and allowing staff to do secondments is key. Not further assignment writing, hands on assessing and knowledge base practice.

  2. Lindsay April 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    CPD is important for Social Workers and Management. Sadly Medway do not have the experience staff they once had. Increments ceased for all staff year upon year. High case loads no stability of staff. How can that be good enough learning for students?? To undertake the degree and they then have the pressure on them as medway then chooses (shall we call it) elite of the top students or those who are favoured. The way to learn is OU route it works and staff value both the course and being employed. Grown your own was a term once used by Medway. The degree does not provide workers with hands on knowledge or experience but the OU route does.

  3. Fiona April 9, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    No offense intended but it is hardly rocket science that the College chief, believes it to be the way forward after all doesn’t “continual professional development” put cash into the college purse?

    The real gauge is what social workers actually think of her statement or better still whether or not service users are benefitting from the developments, is it not?