The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has attacked chief children’s social worker Isabelle Trowler’s knowledge and skills statement for ignoring social work outside of local government.
In its response to the consultation on Trowler’s proposed statement, BASW expressed “dismay” at how the document seemed not to apply to social workers working outside the statutory sector.
“Is part of the rationale to deter newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) from working in the non-statutory sector?” asked BASW’s response.
“Given that initiatives such as the assessed and supported year in employment are applicable to all employers of social workers, should more than one statement be devised which would better capture the different contexts in which NQSWs may be working in the children’s sector.”
When Trowler unveiled her statement in July she said it was designed to build public respect and confidence for social workers “by ensuring that every child and family social worker is properly supported to do the job society needs them to do”.
The government’s intention is that child and family social workers will be assessed against the standards at the end of their first year in practice.
While BASW complimented the statement has having the potential to improve public understanding of social work, it raised concerns about its expectations for what NQSW must know after 12 months in practice.
“Other disciplines do not expect their graduates to have the ‘whole package’ after a year and take a much longer view when it comes to career progression,” BASW wrote in its response.
The expectations placed on NQSWs, it argued, need to be “fair and proportionate” and not set individuals up to fail.
BASW’s response also warned that it must not lead to split between children’s and adult social work education in universities or the workplace since that would be “damaging” to the profession.
Another issue of concern for BASW was that the statement could add another layer of bureaucracy for social work educators, who are already having to work the Professional Capabilities Framework and Standards of Proficiency into their curriculums.
In a separate response by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), they gave a more positive reaction to Trowler’s statement.
“The content of the proposed statement is thorough and helpfully specific whilst remaining concise, considering the ground covered,” said the ADCS in its response.
It said that the statement also has the potential to “support the desire to communicate more clearly the complexities of social work and the extensive nature of the challenges and opportunities that it presents”.
The ADCS added that there should be more emphasis on the ongoing nature of social worker development and said that the lack of reference to values as distinct from knowledge and skills was a potential gap in the document.