Thousands of children’s social workers will face accreditation tests next year, under government plans.
A tender notice issued by the Department for Education shows the government wants 8,000 practitioners accredited by December 2018 as part of the first phase of a national rollout.
The social workers will come from a group of 31 councils, including the DfE’s favoured ‘partners in practice’ councils, that have signed up to pioneer the scheme. Social workers will go to regional assessment centres to sit the majority of the four-stage assessment, which includes an online test of knowledge and skills and a simulated practice observation using role play scenarios with actors.
The DfE said final decisions about accreditation rollout are subject to the results of a consultation currently underway. The consultation is also seeking feedback on a list of statutory social work duties ministers believe accreditation should be required for.
The government wants all children’s social workers to be accredited by 2020 and sees the assessments as crucial to social worker development and to building public confidence in the profession. However, a Unison survey of 100 social workers who took part in a pilot of accreditation found 91% felt the project should not be a government priority.
Around 1,000 social workers took part in the pilot between April 2015 and March 2016. The results led the government to conclude that the tests were deliverable at a national scale and offered a “sound measure” of practitioner skills.
The DfE did however scrap a digital case scenario element from the assessment after the pilot found it over-simplified practice. The department also pledged to address any potential bias against older social workers and practitioners from minority backgrounds after the pilot results found these groups performed less well on accreditation.
The accreditation consultation closes on 14 March.