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.”