Social workers fared well in a pilot scheme testing out accreditation of children and families practitioners, Community Care has learned.
The process has been trialled by 1,000 practitioners in recent months. Final analysis of scores is underway but sources with knowledge of the process said the vast majority of practitioners performed well in the tests.
A survey of participants conducted as part of the pilot also revealed almost all social workers thought the accreditation process was good and the scenarios assessed realistic.
The Department for Education (DfE) has still to decide what pass mark will be set for accreditation when the process is rolled out.
However, if the standard 50% pass thresholds used in postgraduate and post qualifying training programmes were applied, almost all practitioners in the pilot would have passed, initial analysis suggested.
In 2012, DfE applied a 63% pass mark for skills tests for prospective teachers. Even if social work accreditation was set at this threshold, the vast majority of participants would still have passed the process.
Ministers could seek feedback on where the pass threshold should be set when a consultation is launched on accreditation in coming months.
The trial results reportedly showed social workers scored highest in the online test component which assessed their knowledge and skills. Results were more variable but still ‘generally high’ for practice observation scores given by employers and scenario-based assessments.
There was a discrepancy between the ratings given to practitioners by employers in practice observation compared to the verdict of assessors in the scenario-based tests. This led to some concerns that employers may have been too generous in their scoring.
The government has said accreditation will offer “a confident national system of social work expertise upon which the public can rely”. The development of the assessment process has cost £2m so far, under a contract awarded to a partnership led by audit firm KPMG.
The overall cost of the scheme will largely depend on whether the government decides to make accreditation mandatory or not.
This week children’s minister Edward Timpson said “every” children’s social worker will be accredited against the chief social worker for children’s knowledge and skills statement. The DfE said no decision on whether the assessments will be mandatory has been made and a consultation, promised in January, will still go ahead.
The DfE is understood to be pleased with the pilot results but the department declined to comment on the accreditation feedback.