BASW ponders its role in social work college talks

The British Association of Social Workers is considering pulling out of efforts to develop a national college of social work because of fears over government interference.

Chief executive Hilton Dawson said the organisation proposed by the Social Work Task Force was in danger of becoming “another quango” as the start-up funding of £5m offered by government came with “strings attached”.

“We have to decide whether we want to be part of a group set up by government,” he said. “BASW values its independence from government.”

Dawson has written an “options paper” for BASW council members, who will decide next week whether to accept an invitation to become part of the college development group.

The former Labour MP told Community Care: “We’re not confident the development group will be strong enough to make the college the potent force it needs to be to aid the reform of social work or attract social ­workers to join it.

“If you take money from government, it makes it difficult to be independent.

“Our members need to work out whether we remain as the independent professional association for social workers and help develop an independent college ourselves.”

BASW has consistently called for the establishment of a national college to drive up standards.

Moira Gibb, chair of the Social Work Reform Board, which will oversee the implementation of the taskforce’s recommendations, said she would be “disappointed and surprised” if BASW did not take part in developing the ­college.

“I know that they’re anxious about independence but the college can’t be independent until it’s in existence,” she said.

“It would be a shame to throw away the prize of a college for apparent differences of opinion on how to get it started.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families insisted BASW was still a “key partner” in setting up the college.

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