Children’s social workers face double assessment at end of first year in practice

New test being developed by KPMG-led consortium will be on top of, not instead of, existing arrangements for newly qualified workers

Photo: Martin Lee/Rex

The new test being developed for children’s social workers will not replace the existing assessed and supported year in employment scheme for newly qualified practitioners, the government has confirmed.

Community Care revealed in January that social workers will need to sit a pass/fail test to get Approved Child and Family Practitioner (ACFP) status in order to work with children in a case-holding role. Employers have not been clear how this new test will fit with their current assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) programmes.

Community Care now understands that the current model of ongoing line manager assessment and  decision at the end of the year will continue, separately from the ACFP test which is being developed by a consortium led by consultancy firm KPMG and also involving Morning Lane Associates, the former company of chief social worker Isabelle Trowler.

At an event earlier this month organised by Skills for Care (the body which has government contracts to support employers to deliver the ASYE), the Department for Education indicated that ministers are considering whether to adopt a framework of moderation of ASYE decisions, as outlined in the knowledge and skills statement for adult social workers.

The assessment of adults’ social worker’s first year will be subject to internal reviews at stages through the year, with regional and national moderation of decisions.

Online case scenarios

Further details of what the ACFP test will look like were also given at the event. Analysis, decision-making and critical reflection on case scenarios via an online platform will form a key part; a direct practice observation element is at a less advanced stage in development.

The tests will be trialled with 1000 practitioners at different career stages over the coming months and are expected to be completed in March 2016.

A further consultation will then be done on implementation details – for example whether it will be mandatory, who it will cover and whether people are able to retake it.

Two further knowledge and skills statements

The government announced last year that children’s social work would be dominated by a new set of professional standards for all levels of the profession – this would include the approved child and family practitioner status, a supervisor status and a practice leader status.

Each is to be assessed by a pass/fail test and a statement of knowledge and skills will be produced for each level.

While Isabelle Trowler devised the first knowledge and skills statement for all practitioners, the KPMG-led consortium has developed the statements for the other two levels. It will also develop pass/fail tests for social workers based on the statements.

At the Skills for Care event, a spokesperson for the Department for Education announced that statements for the practice supervisor and practice leader statuses are currently in a pre-consultation stage with principal social workers.

The Department of Health is also considering the introduction of a practice supervisor status for adults social workers but there are no plans bring in the other accreditation levels.

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