Minister announces more social work training reforms

Health minister Jacqui Smith announced last month more money and
initiatives for social work training.

Smith said that the government wanted service users and carers
to be involved in the development, design and delivery of the
degree qualification  in every higher education institution,
mirroring their involvement in service provision.

A new information service to provide good quality information
about careers in social care will also be set up.

She also said that the new social work degree would put a
stronger emphasis on practice. “As a minimum, we now expect
students to spend 200 days in practice.” She added that a
fund for practice learning of £7m in 2003-4 with planned
figures of £13m in 2004-5 and £37m in 2005-6 had been
announced in April this year.

She also said that skills laboratories would be set up. Social
work skills such as communication and other key practice
requirements could be developed in the laboratories, which would
help the integration of learning between “field” and
“classroom” settings.

The new arrangements are as follows:

1) An introductory programme for practice assessors to be
devised by training organisation Topss.
2) The establishment of skills laboratories at a cost of
£640,000. Each institution offering the three-year degree will
receive £16,000 over two years to support the development of
skills laboratories.
3) Funds of £100,000 to support development of
inter-professional learning.
4) £420,000 in 2003-4 to support the involvement of service
users in the development of the new degree.
5) Ten pilot learning resource centres to be established in 2003-4,
a further 15 in 2004-5 and by 2005-6 there will be 50. Learning
resource centres will provide support to the development of
practice learning.

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