The General Social Care Council is warning universities they will face losing their accreditation for social work degree programmes if they fail to ensure the supply of suitable placements for all students.
The regulator, which monitors and accredits training programmes in England, has written to the 82 institutions offering the degree in an attempt to tackle regional shortages of placements ahead of the forthcoming academic year.
Possible reduction in student numbers
The letter reminds universities that the allocation of placements in a social work setting, which account for half of students’ time on the degree and must cover at least 200 days, is a core responsibility of course providers.
Programme leaders are told to consider reducing the number of student places for the academic year 2010-11 where supply does not meet demand, or in the most extreme cases, suspending the entire intake.
“Early discussions” urged
Graham Ixer, head of the GSCC’s social work education group, writes in the letter: “We advise very strongly that accredited institutions should have early discussions with partner agencies to scope prospective supply and plan accordingly.”
He adds: “Failure to match student intake with appropriate quality placements puts the programme at risk of inspection and potential withdrawal of approval.”
The GSCC’s warning comes amid widespread concerns about the quality and availability of statutory placements.
A study commissioned by Skills for Care London and the Children’s Workforce Development Council, published last month, found the system of provision involving universities and councils in London was in disarray, and demand for statutory placements was outstripping supply.
Concerns were raised in separate interviews about the availability of statutory placements given to Community Care in March by the chair of the Social Work Task Force, Moira Gibb, and social work consultant Bill McKitterick.
No statutory placement for some students on half of courses
The following month a Community Care survey of 34 universities and colleges in England showed 45% had not provided a statutory placement for all students who graduated last year.
The GSCC noted “growing concerns” about the quality and availability of practice placements in its annual report on social work education, published in February.
CWDC: Workforce agencies need social work planning powers