New body to take responsibility for social work standards and regulation

All children's social workers will also be assessed against the Knowledge and Skills Statement by 2020 the government has announced

Photo: Ray Tang/REX Shuttershock
Photo: Ray Tang/REX Shuttershock

All children’s social workers will be assessed against the knowledge and skills statement developed by chief social worker Isabelle Trowler by the end of this parliament (2020) the government has announced.

The assessment and accreditation process of children’s social workers will be overseen by a new body that will be set up to take responsibility for all social work standards, training and regulation of the profession, including adult social work, education secretary Nicky Morgan stated.

In a speech about reforming children’s social work, Morgan announced plans for the new body which would have “a relentless focus on raising the quality of social work, education, training and practice in both children’s and adult’s social work”.

A statement said the new body “will also set standards for training and oversee the roll out of a new assessment and accreditation system for children and family social workers”. It will eventually replace the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as the regulator for social work.

Knowledge and skills statement

Trowler said: “Today’s announcements form the springboard for social work to become recognised as one of the most highly regarded and expert professions in the public service landscape. Such high ambition will be achieved through a dedicated and focused partnership with government so together we provide practice excellence everywhere for the children, families and communities we serve.”

Lyn Romeo, chief social worker for adults, also welcomed the news of the new body, and called it “significant for the entire profession”.

In a blog post, Romeo said: “It demonstrates support for social workers and the ambition to continue to drive up quality, status and regard for our practice, whilst recognising the vital role we play in improving lives of our most vulnerable children, families and adults.”

“This will enhance a system of regulation which supports a single, unified profession, with an initial qualification giving social workers the freedom to work in many settings and contexts across England and the United Kingdom,” she added.

Romeo also said that the new body will provide independent validation for the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment for social workers working with adults, “which complements the accreditation approach for statutory child and family frontline practitioners”.

New arrangements to support a national accreditation for Best Interest Assessor and Approved Mental Health Professional roles should also be welcomed, Romeo added.

Not a voice for the profession

The announcement of the new body comes six months after The College of Social Work – an organisation set up to raise the standards and profile of social work – closed due to lack of funds, a move precipitated by the government’s decision to stop funding it. The new body differs from the College in not having a remit to provide a voice for the profession and will take on functions that the College never held, such as regulation.

In a wide-ranging speech, Morgan said: “The new body will have a relentless focus on raising the quality of social work education, training and practice in both children’s and adults’ services.

“It will set standards for training as well as overseeing the rollout of the new assessment and accreditation system for children and family social workers. This will happen as soon as possible,” she said.

She added: “And let me be clear, we don’t need more quangos, or more bureaucracy – we need a body that will genuinely uphold rigorous professional standards.”

Morgan, in a letter to Parliament, said the government would try “to bring forward any necessary legislation when parliamentary business allows”.

HCPC

The HCPC, the current social work regulator, said it was “very surprised” by the announcement.

A spokesperson said: “We are an efficient and effective regulator with robust regulatory processes and standards for conduct, education and professional skills.  We will continue to fulfil our primary aim of public protection by regulating the 16 health and care professions on our Register”.

He added: “We look forward to seeing the detail of this decision and will work closely with Government as they bring forward any necessary legislation to facilitate this change.”

Other measures announced today:

  • Funding for Frontline to expand its fast-track training programme for children’s social workers and a further cohort of the Step Up to Social Work fast-track scheme, between them training 3,000 people over the next five years.
  • A new ‘What Works Centre’ for social workers, with up to £20 million available to help social workers learn from best practice.
  • An urgent review of local safeguarding children’s boards, led by former Association of Directors of Children’s Services president Alan Wood.
  • Three more councils – Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Islington – to receive “academy-style freedoms” to develop new systems of delivering social care and new ways of working with children and families.

More follows

35 Responses to New body to take responsibility for social work standards and regulation

  1. Andrew S Hatton January 14, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    Interesting how the word Probation – traditionally a specialist branch of social work & family court social work (which grew from probation before also being cut away by HM Government in 2001) – in England and Wales – does not get a mention.

    On a day that a part of the London Borough of Islington’s Social Work receives a poor report from no less than Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation, regarding its youth offending service.

    I have the impression that some involved with social work do not like to acknowledge that child care and mental health social work often involves the criminal courts!

    https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation/media/press-releases/2016/01/islingtonfjr/

  2. Asye January 14, 2016 at 5:14 pm #

    Looks like G4S will get the gig.

  3. Rlh January 14, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    What does this mean for us lowly regarded students who are only doing the standard 3 year degree?

    • Helen Scholar January 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

      Fair question – and what might it mean for qualified social workers who do not work in statutory children and adult services?

    • Get me out of here January 15, 2016 at 11:36 am #

      You know exactly what it means

  4. Jim January 14, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    I wonder if this new body will see the return of the publicly-accessible database of stricken-off social workers?

    • Jim Greer January 15, 2016 at 11:44 am #

      Why would you want to see such information? If someone is not on the register then they cannot practice using the title. I cant see the reason for a ‘wall of shame’. People have a right to some privacy.

    • Lynn hancox January 23, 2016 at 12:42 am #

      ‘Stricken-off’? Perhaps more time spent on spelling would provide credibility…

      If the word ‘nurses’ replaced that of ‘social workers’, there might be a bit more public interest in what’s happening. The so-called Angels are surrounded by a glowing light and can do no wrong. Long Live the Daily Mail!

      Social work is just a public whipping post. The public don’t care. It’s a profession that’s despised and vilified by the public. It’s lost it’s heart and become an agent of the state and the top-heavy management structure. They can’t recruit in adult mental health, let alone children’s services. The job is an absolute nightmare and thankless task. No-one cares about the people inhabiting the lower levels of society anyway, do they? All those lazy benefits cheats fleecing the Great British Tax Payer. Just make sure you don’t lose your job, house, family or mind and be cast adrift in a sea of individualism and bankers…

  5. Debbie January 14, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    Er…GSCC anyone???

    • Nick Johnson January 19, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

      Yeah! Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have still got theirs!

  6. Dawn January 14, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Well I certainly hope that the information given includes proper trying regarding Home Education and the law not local policy. Sw hound families for taking an educational route available to them in law. When will sw catch up.

  7. Concerned January 14, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    I would urge people to look at the detailed archive of past articles in community care on the Frontline programme. The HCPC have set high standards of education and training for all approved programmes leading to social work qualifying status. I cant recall any HEI receiving the 30 conditions to improve on for training as Frontline did recently. Also have a look at how this programme will be evaluated and the comments by leading academics. The government are clearly setting their own agenda here for Social Work training and will remove any obstacle such as HCPC and leading academics who stand in their way. This is not a way forward and does not have the backing of the profession – I dont remember voting for either of these CSW’s to speak for the profession.

    • ann prescott January 20, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      Hear hear! A stitch up !

  8. Get me out of here January 15, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    Highly regarded professionals with the lowest pay possible. As a LA Social Worker I’ve almost had enough. Low pay, pay freezes, cuts to my pension, my car loan scheme removed o what joy it is too be a Social worker. On top of this we now have to suffer private sector performance management, cuts to services and total all out war against public sector workers by a vicious uncaring Tory Government.
    Might I suggest that the HCPC has done nothing for me or any other Social worker and is just an expensive big stick to beat up Social workers. Fast track right wing uncaring, failed banking students in as Social Workers really is too much to bear. I say this to you failed bankers you need empathy and a genuine understanding that most of the problems you will se are not individual failings just the product of useless Government cuts that have created mass poverty. Do not worry my little Tarquin and Flavious the banking jobs with the big bonus culture will return soon and you can romp of to your natural habitat making money and looking down on the poor. Having read this I think I will soon quit the job and go and work for an Agency.

    • Yeah I do Frontline January 15, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

      Wow. The level of vitriolic hatred spewed on the Frontline programme and its participants is quite shocking and dissappointing to me. Please do feel free to disagree with a particular approach to social work education or the recruitment processes that a particular route into the profession uses, these are legitimate grounds for debate.

      But!

      Do not presume to understand, question or criticise the motivations and commitment of the students taking part without any point of reference or and basis in fact whatsoever. Have you met anybody who is on the Frontline programme? Have you spoken to them about why they want to be social workers or why they chose to apply to Frontline? The fact that well respected academics have raised understandable and useful contributions to the debate on social work education and Frontline does not give others a platform to spit bile. It seems that one of the key skills in social work is critical reflection and resistance to the human impulse to prejudge a person based on a single aspect of their life. Just as you ask us to understand that many of society’s problems are not individual failings but systemic failings, we ask that in the same way the social work community should not paint us as an amoral army of right wing bonus hunters. My fellow students and I simply want to be social workers. For many of us the only route available into social work is Frontline because we cannot afford to pay the fees for a SW Masters. If we wanted to be bankers, we would have applied for banking jobs.

      Yours sincerely

      Tarquin

      • Nanbar January 18, 2016 at 11:54 am #

        Hi Tarquin
        From my point of view I think people are angry because Frontline is put foward a a means of rescuing a profession that needs ‘leaders’, high academic attainment. What is not mentioned are the very difficult and challenging circumstances that people are often working under. The constant changes ,the latest example is the suggestion of yet another regulatory body (the fourth or fifth in my career, I loose count). That , yes things do need to change, but the profession needs to be made up of intelligent, empathic and hard working individuals of all genders races etc. A upper second from a Russell group university is not the only measure of a good social worker. People are left with the feeling that no one else appears to count. Where will that leave colleagues in Adult , Learning Disability Mental Health Services in terms of how their contribution to the profession is received if they aren’t either Frontline or Step Up .
        Ironically I choose to rerun to my inner city area ( where I had grown up) as a post grad Student many years ago now ( and I was very unusual being a Russell Group graduate and a Black woman). People try on the whole to do their best for their service users in a very difficult climate . Some of the authorities now seeking to get involved with the various training schemes have managed staff so badly that people do not stay.
        The positives in this job are the children and their families that I have met over 27 years and the on the whole excellent colleagues who have travelled the journey so far with me. I wish you well, the response may not be right and I am not defending it, however it is understandable. Best Wishes Nanbar.

      • Graham January 20, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

        Well said, ‘Get me out of here’ should really just get out of here.

    • Beth January 21, 2016 at 5:29 am #

      You will not be quitting agency work is more difficult as you are only as good as your last reference however at least it gives you flexibility.

  9. Stephen Barber January 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    The government could call the new body the General Social Care Council, such as they abolished in 2011.

    • PauloD'SW January 21, 2016 at 10:42 am #

      Or something really forward thinking, like ‘Central Council for Education & Training of Social Workers’ …

  10. Andrew January 15, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Asye (above) is absolutely right – this will be handed to one of the private sector contributors to the Tory Party coffers whose prime motivation is pleasing their share holders.
    It is fun to see the HSPC being taken by surprise and kicked in the teeth.
    Maybe the need to look at themselves and ask with they have done with the £7.2 million per year they receive from social worker registrants that promotes quality practice. They seem to have consistently blamed and penalised individuals and let employers off the hook for high caseloads that lead to errors.

  11. Gail January 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

    And the College of Social Work, ASYE, HCPC and former GSCC did what………?????

  12. Jo May January 16, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Why is it whenever they announce anything new or any publications it is always about children and families.

    There are lots of us out there that work with adults in various settings, I.e. older people; physical disability; sensory service; mental health; hospital, etc.

    New accreditation program for children’s social workers to be rolled out by 2020. Does this not include adult social workers or are they in effect trying to say that we are not as important.

    It’s ridiculous how people seem to forget that we exist or our work is trivial in comparison. Last year we had a children’s social worker move over to adults and she too could not believe how overworked we are or the complex nature of our work in lots of different environments. The only difference is that we rarely have to go to court.

    I hope that one day soon, the government or regulators or someone out there may focus on us instead.

    • Beth January 21, 2016 at 5:36 am #

      Thank your lucky stars you are being left alone. The constant interference in children’s social work makes the job twice as hard. I will be quitting after many years as the constant audits and demands are too much and hinder the work with children and their families.
      Fast track is a joke. I am i highly skilled worker with a First Class Degree in the subject but I also had many years experience working in Health and Social Care. I can also empathise!
      Case loads are just too high in children’s social work. Gone are the days when we had 5 to 8 families it is now high pressured complex work with at least 20 odd children all their needs to be maintained individually with increasing demands.
      What happened Munro we are ending up with more hoops to jump through!
      I will not be jumping through the new regulators hoops to prove I can do my job! I know how to work with families and initiate change! Skills that this profession will loose. Maybe I should go and work in adults again….

  13. ben January 16, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    Any bets on how much our registration fees will be now?

  14. James January 16, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

    Dear me. I lose track of how many times governments will change who regulates us and what standards they’ll use. Yet another grand sounding change that means nothing.

    This is surely a case of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, once again. If the workforce remains as chronically short staffed and beleaguered as it currently is, they’ll not implement this framework, just as has happened each time before.

    Amusing to see no-one saw fit to tell the HCPC though. I’m sure we only just moved to being regulated by them as that was going to solve all the problems a couple of years ago? And that The College was cut last summer? Must be me.

  15. Wolfie January 17, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

    Fiddling while Rome burns? Rearranging the deck chairs on The Titanic? I know let’s have a new regulatory body. That should sort it. Let’s forget about the fact that many of us are so busy complying that we don’t have time to do the job.Let’s make cuts and then tell us we have to be ‘creative’ Let’s ‘hot desk’ so we have nowhere to sit. Let’s introduce timescales that mitigate against families in the Family Court system. Let’s castigate us in public. Let’s send them to Prison {even Bankers don’t get that for messing up something small like, erm let’s think, oh yes the global economy}. Let’s tell Local Authorities they have to do more to retain staff. Let’s put them on improvement programmes. Let’s dismantle The Welfare State – now why didn’t I think of that? Let’s get real!

  16. Alex Knapp January 18, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    We don’t need to set standards for training. We need to set standards for learning, knowledge and practice.

    Anyone can go on a training course…

    It is the learning that gets taken away and the impact on practice that counts.

  17. JayZN January 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    We only have to ask ourselves one questions: how did we end up with a majority Tory government? What does that say about the society we are living in?

  18. Hels January 18, 2016 at 10:47 pm #

    Just what’s the point! I’m at a loss to see what the hcpc registration means in the widest sense!!!

  19. Marycom January 18, 2016 at 11:35 pm #

    I am so tired of professionals set up to question the morals and understanding of other professionals. We were required to get a degree so we went out and got our degree, why? Because we cared enough to want to do the best we could for the people we work with.
    We are committed to our work, I would go so far as saying we have a vocation, those off us in child protection care enough to make sure we understand the law our responsibilities and how best to deliver the best off services available. However services have been cut. No mental health services for traumatised children, or at the very least half arsed services that take weeks to address families before even looking at their issues. No services for young people, schools left empty when they should be doing more. Massive expensive buildings working at a third off capacity.children are not a priority, we look at starving children in far off countries not realising that our own children while not drinking dirty water are trawling through dirty water of drugs socialism abuse starvation and sexual dysfunction that you couldn’t make up. We have the self satisfied attitude if NIMBY people are trained by media to think our children our safe and we need to look to other countries to support children.

  20. Graham January 20, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    I note that the new body will not be a ‘voice for social work’ just a regulator. Perhaps that was why the CSW was axed – because a social work voice is not a one the Government wants to hear.

    As for the ‘What Works Centre’ – anyone remember the Centre for Evidence Based Social Work at Exeter University? Not heard much from there lately. The problem was that the evidence base for what works often conflicts with the ideological and financial priorities of the government – and guess who wins!

    Does anyone think that making social workers amongst the most high status and respected professions in the country will include a suitable pay rise? Mmm don’t hold your breath.

    Hopefully by the time these new ‘reforms’ are found not to have worked I shall be happily retired

  21. Semi A January 21, 2016 at 7:47 am #

    I, myself, can not wait. There was nothing wrong with the GSCC they held employers accountable because they recognised employers make demands of social workers so they should be able to provide adequate training and supervision.
    To say HCPC is below adequate is an under statement. They will side with local authorities even with the smallest evidence and we have lost social workers for issues that often not related to practice but their personal life choices. Which does not happen in any other profession.
    Let the change come, I welcome it.

  22. Sandy January 27, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    To be honest I dont really know whether this new regulator will make any difference to social work. However, I will be happy to see the HCPC gone, as since they have been put in place they have done nothing positive for people in social work, all I have ever seen is them strucking people off the register. Despite paying so much money ever 2 years they have never stand up for social workers and help to promote the profession.

  23. Alison February 12, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    I am in South Africa, studying towards a Ba HSS (cou) with most modules in Social work. We are going to be immigrating to the UK once I have qualified or done Honors. In SA, Child Welfare is only partly funded by the government. Qualified social workers here earn as little as R9 000 to R13 000 per month (400-600 pounds a month) They get NO car sub, in fact in one area, 21 social workers have to share 2 cars, and are doing more than 300 cases per month, instead of the 80 cases they should have. In other words, they are doing 4 times the amount of cases they should be doing!

    South Africa is extremely short of social workers, but the high volume of cases, the very low salaries, the SA government demanding you work for free for a year, where-ever they want to place you, even though they have not paid any monies towards your studies, and the lack of funding, does not make it a career people really want to get into.
    I really hope that when the time comes, things would have improved in the UK with regards to regulation, as it seems that social work seems to be a profession that needs an upgrade in both countries.