GSCC looks to improve social work degree

The General Social Care Council could be set to request more powers to inspect social work degree courses and workplace training following concerns over the effectiveness of post-qualifying education.

The regulator’s annual report on social work education released today, Raising Standards, said that newly qualified social workers were being landed with an increasing number of “complex and risky” cases for which they needed greater expertise and support than they were currently receiving.

Training quality

GSCC chair Rosie Varley said that recent tragedies such as the Baby P case highlighted the importance of social workers getting “the very best training” throughout their careers. She added: “That is why we are reviewing whether we have the right powers to robustly inspect social work degree courses.

“We also believe there needs to be the creation of national standards for on-the-job safeguarding training and stronger requirements for employers to commit to good quality on-going training for social workers.”

The GSCC also called for all social workers to undergo a specialist post-qualifying award early on in their careers and raised the notion of linking post-qualifying courses to re-registration.

The GSCC is currently responsible for monitoring universities’ and higher education institutions’ own quality assurance systems rather than examining the delivery of the social work degree course itself. Of the 71 universities and nine Higher Education Institutions in England that offer the course, 75% were judged to be satisfactory, its annual report said.

Practice placements

But concerns were expressed over the remaining 15%, relating to provision of practice placements, inappropriate teaching and lack of involvement in course delivery from service users and carers.

Overall it was found that the number of social workers entering the profession has steadily risen since the introduction of the degree in 2003. In all the degree has produced a total of 7,941 qualified graduates.

However, while some areas of the country do not run degree courses due to lack of demand, other areas are struggling to recruit social workers. The GSCC recommended the development of a “workforce model” to ensure a suitable number of social workers are being trained in the regions where they are needed.

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