Isabelle Trowler has published the final list of standards that assistant directors and those supervising children’s social workers will need to meet, under plans to accredit the workforce.
It follows a consultation period on the standards, developed by the KPMG-led consortium which won a government contract to build an assessment and accreditation system for child and family social workers at three levels.
Professional and personal support
Key changes that have been made to the draft statements, as a result of the consultation, include a greater focus on knowledge of legislation and case law for both supervisors and leaders and a requirement for leaders to provide sufficient professional and personal support to ensure the wellbeing of practitioners. There is also stronger emphasis on the wellbeing of children in public care.
In addition to the final statements, Trowler also outlined the next steps for accreditation which include:
- Consideration of further knowledge and skills statements for specialist areas of practice such as planning permanent care options.
- Guidance on the assessment and accreditation process will be published early next year for consultation. This will include asking the sector whether the tests should be made mandatory.
- Exploring the idea of accreditation for leaders, as well as supervisors, of adult social work.
Different assessment processes
The Department for Education expects that social workers seeking practice supervisor status, the second level, will need to pass the same four stages – employer endorsement, online tests of knowledge, critical reasoning and decision-making, and observation of practice in a simulated environment.
However, practice leaders, who will usually be assistant directors of children’s social care or directors of family services, are likely to have to go through a continuous assessment process instead.
The government said any plans on implementing accreditation would “take into account workforce pressures and other workforce implications”.
As part of the consultation, the social workers, local authorities and other bodies who responded, asked for clarity on how the statuses would relate to existing management structures and roles such as principal social worker and independent reviewing officer. The government said this would also be included in the forthcoming guidance but it would be “mindful of the need not to stifle structural innovation in local authorities”.
In response to queries about how the new statements fit in with other frameworks, the government said it was not its intention to replace the professional capabilities framework.
“A number of general social work standards and guidance documents do exist; these new statements, in contrast, are dedicated to practice supervisors and practice leaders in the child and family social work setting, and so have not been amended to include other frameworks.”
However, the government said the statements complemented the HCPC professional standards and the regulatory body would be taking them into account when it reviews its standards of proficiency.