Minister says national college could be ‘voice of social work’

A professional college for social workers similar to those in the medical profession could be the way to bring about a strong voice for the profession, children’s secretary Ed Balls has said.

Balls told the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ annual conference yesterday that it was “really important” for the profession to “talk with a more confident voice” and that this was currently lacking.

Social work voice not heard

He said that while drawing up the Children’s Plan – the government’s ten-year strategy for children, published in December 2007 – he had “heard clearly” the voice of ADCS and the teaching profession but not that of social work.

“Do we need to have within social work a professional college along the lines of GPs and other colleges to be a professional voice for this profession and to do the same workplace improvement from within,” he asked.

The medical royal colleges – which cover disciplines including general practice and psychiatry – are membership bodies for professionals which both set standards for training and practice and speak on behalf of their professions.

BASW welcomes comments

The idea of a national college for social work has been championed by the British Association of Social Workers, which welcomed Balls’s comments.

BASW chair Tim Chittleburgh said: “A college for social work would transform the standing and status of some of the most complex and challenging work undertaken with the most needy and vulnerable people in our society. It is a fundamentally important development and we commend the government and the secretary of state for now being willing to pursue it.”

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