The government has delayed plans to introduce a national ‘quality assurance’ scheme that was meant to tackle inconsistencies in the way employers assess newly qualified social workers in adult services, Community Care has learned.
A national validation scheme to scrutinise the way employers implemented the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) for adult social workers was due to be rolled out next month. However, the Department of Health (DH) has now put the scheme on hold, even though it has been held up as a core part of a revised ASYE framework that came into force in April.
The revised ASYE framework also introduced a set of standardised arrangements for assessment and moderation developed by Skills for Care. The national validation scheme was supposed to ensure that the arrangements put forward by Skills for Care were being applied consistently in practice.
Reasons for the delay
Two key factors lie behind the DH’s decision to delay the validation scheme’s roll-out.
The first is that the programme was developed, and was due to be run, by The College of Social Work. The College is closing by the end of September due to a lack of funds. This means another organisation would have to take on responsibility for the validation service.
The DH could have assigned responsibility for the scheme to a new organisation or put it out to tender. However, the validation scheme is not included in a list of College functions put out to tender this week.
Community Care understands that the DH is now considering whether, not when, to implement the ASYE validation scheme that was developed by The College, although ministers remain committed to introducing an external validation system.
Considering impact of children’s social work reforms
Sources indicated that the DH is keen to monitor the implementation of a new accreditation approach being introduced by the Department for Education (DfE) for children’s social workers before introducing its own system.
The DfE approach will see the introduction of a pass or fail test for children’s social workers to undertake at the end of their first year in practice.
The pass or fail test approach is a key plank of the knowledge and skills statement for children’s social workers developed by Isabelle Trowler, the chief social worker for children. A £2m contract to develop a set of accreditation standards in children’s social work was awarded to KPMG and Morning Lane Associates.
The validation scheme to drive up consistency of ASYE assessments was the option for NQSW accreditation put forward by Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, in her knowledge and skills statement. When Romeo’s statement was published, the government said that the validation programme being developed by the College would “ensure that standards are consistently applied nationally”.