DH social work degree review says no to adult-children split

Social work leaders have backed a call not to split degree training for adults’ and children’s practitioners in England.

The first major evaluation of the social work degree found there was “no evidence” to support a split, which the government has been understood to be considering since last year.

It said specialist skills in children’s and adults’ services should be developed in the post-qualifying framework while retaining some specialist input in the degree.

Andrea Rowe, chief executive of Skills for Care, backed the call to keep the degree generic to ensure professionals understood how children’s and adults’ needs “interrelated”. She argued this was increasingly important due to an “imbalance” in funding for specialist training between the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health.

The DCSF has set out reforms for the children’s workforce, including a three-year pilot to increase support for newly qualified social workers and measures to improve undergraduate and postgraduate training in practice with children and families.

The Department of Health is yet to produce similar plans for adult care though it has commissioned Skills for Care to develop a statement on roles and tasks for the personalisation era.

Mike Wardle, chief executive of the General Social Care Council, which supports a generic degree, believed the government was no longer considering splitting the course. He added that specialist training within the degree could be strengthened and practice placements chosen according to students’ intended specialisations.

Some children’s services directors have been the firmest advocates of a split, but the Association of Directors of Children’s Services said this was not its position. Howard Cooper, chair of the ADCS workforce development committee, said it had entered talks with the GSCC about gearing the third year of the degree towards a range of specialisms.

The three-year evaluation, published last week, found the degree encouraged more students and brought high levels of satisfaction. But pressure to find enough good quality placements remained a problem, and many students doubted whether private and voluntary sector placements could provide a range of experiences and support.

● Evaluation at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_086079

Has the social work degree prepared you for your specialist area? Have your say at https://www.communitycare.co.uk/care-space-degree1

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GSCC information on social work degree http://www.gscc.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/785D3B38-F226-49BA-AE33-0DB6B2B64666/0/GSCCarrangementsformonitoringsocialworkdegreecourses2005.pdf

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