Demands made for new social work occupational standards

National occupational standards for social work should include a
practice teaching requirement, representatives from across the
profession suggested, writes Lauren

The change, proposed during the initial stage of consultation on
the new standards, would help redress the falling numbers of social
workers entering practice teaching, and encourage a learning
culture and support system within the profession, representatives

Delegates at the first of a series of three workshops to
“identify the main outline of social work practice and social work
roles” also stressed the importance of the new standards
recognising the role of evidence-based research, evaluation, and
reflection in modern day practice.

The standards, being drawn up by training body TOPSS, would also
need to place sufficient emphasis on the interventionist role of
the social worker, their ability to manage conflict and
contradiction, and the value of their assessment skills.

“I am very conscious that social work should not be just about
managing other people and commissioning other services, but about
social workers’ skills of intervention – otherwise we are writing
ourselves out of a job,” one delegate warned.

Social work representatives also highlighted the need for the
standards to acknowledge the influence of external factors on the
social work role including performance indicators, resource
restraints, new technologies and the wider social inclusion agenda.
Continuous professional development or research requirements for
individuals would also need to be supported by their

However, there remained considerable doubt about how wide or
narrow the standards’ remit should be, and how they would relate to
the different specialities within social work and to other social
care sector workers.

There was agreement, though, that the standards would need to
compliment and incorporate the values and ethics of the new codes
of conduct due to be drawn up by the incoming regulatory bodies in
the four UK countries.

The new national occupational standards for social work will be
drafted between July and mid-September, before widespread
consultation in October and November and introduction of the final
standards in March 2002.

The existing standards were drafted in 1994 but, although they
were used to develop the core competences of the Diploma in Social
Work, they have never been formally distributed and utilised in the

Giles Darvill, National Institute for Social Work consultant and
co-author of the stimulus paper for the initial consultation stage,
said the new standards would not only be for use in employment, but
would be the “bedrock” on which service standards, the code of
conducts, and the new social work degree curriculum would be

“We want to identify all the main functions of social work
before we get too much into the detail,” Darvill said. “Although we
are not developing a curriculum for a new DipSW, we hope this will
contribute to that. So we need to look to the future.”

‘The Future of Social Work’ stimulus paper from

All responses must be returned by the June 29.

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