Universities and employers in England which provide high-quality placements for social work students could be rewarded with extra funding from next year.
The General Social Care Council wants to link the system of funding for placements to the quality of training, after widespread concerns about the standard of practice learning.
At present, the GSCC distributes the annual budget of £26.5m from the Department of Health according to the number of students. The money goes to universities and colleges that offer the social work degree and is then transferred to the provider that takes the student at a rate of £18 a day, or £28 for charities or service user groups.
Rosie Varley, GSCC chair, said: “We should have the power to not just pass on money on a per capita basis but to allocate it based on quality criteria.”
Learn from teaching hospitals
The GSCC wants to introduce the new rules on funding allocation to its annual monitoring of social work training for the 2010-11 academic year.
Varley added that the social work sector could learn from the “teaching hospital” model in medicine, where NHS trusts are awarded extra funding and status for demonstrating strong links with universities and supporting students.
“If you’re a teaching hospital and you provide placements for students then that gives you a lot of kudos,” Varley said. “There’s a real incentive for district hospitals to make sure they’re aiming towards achieving those standards.”
The provision of practice placements within degree courses in England was highlighted as an area of “particular concern” in the taskforce’s interim report in July, which named “high-quality, appropriate initial training” as one of nine building blocks for reform.
Places are still available for the Social Work Task Force and Beyond: Rising to the Challenges conference in London on Thursday, 3 December. This event provides the first opportunity to discuss the findings of the report with key figures including Phil Hope, care services minister; Baroness Morgan, children’s minister; and Moira Gibb.