BASW to join national college group after all

The British Association of Social Workers will join the development group for a national college of social work despite its initial concerns about government interference.

BASW had been considering pulling out of talks to develop the national college because it was in danger of becoming “another quango”, chief executive Hilton Dawson said last week.

The former Labour MP said the start-up funding of £5m offered by the government for the college came with “strings attached”.

But when BASW council members met on Wednesday, they voted to accept the invitation to help develop the college.

Dawson said: “We are still sceptical [about the government’s involvement in the college] but we looked at the various options and decided to engage rather than go off and do something else. We want to make sure social workers are represented from the beginning.”

Acting chair Fran Fuller said: “Every one of BASW’s rapidly expanding membership is going to be involved in ensuring that social work will change.” BASW has 12,350 members.

A spokesperson for BASW added: “BASW staff will work alongside Scie [the Social Care Institute of Excellence, which is convening the development group] to insist that the college is powerful enough to set entry standards, accredit continued professional development, license employers and set standards for licensing social workers.”

She said BASW would “insist” the Social Work Reform Board reported directly to the college, and that the college development group was chaired by a social worker.

The Social Work Task Force, which published its 15 recommendations for improving the profession in England in December, called for a national college after finding the sector lacked a single focus of responsibility for promoting social work, improving public understanding, spreading best practice and driving up standards.

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