BASW threatens to launch breakaway college

The British Association of Social Workers may launch its own breakaway college for the profession after becoming “disillusioned” by talks held by the official steering group.

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, made the announcement on the association’s website after initial meetings of the development group to set up a national college of social work, as recommended by the Social Work Task Force.

Despite a commitment made by BASW council members on 15 January to support the development of the college, Dawson reiterated his concerns over a lack of independence made in an interview with Community Care at the beginning of the month.

He objected to the involvement of the “government-funded” Social Care Institute for Excellence in convening the meetings, the presence of civil servant “observers” and the government’s offer to provide initial funding to launch the college, understood to be £5m.

Dawson cited the restriction of government funding to develop the college in England only as a final concern. BASW is committed to establishing a UK-wide body.

The former Labour MP had become “disillusioned with the direction of college discussions”, according to the statement, and that BASW’s future participation in the project would depend on the group fulfilling three objectives: that the college is UK-wide, “strong” and led by social workers.

The statement added: “Senior BASW officials were said to be considering alternative strategies for creating an independent UK college led by the social work profession.”

The Social Work Task Force issued its final recommendations to transform the profession in England two months ago. It proposed the establishment of a national college after finding the sector lacked a “single focus of responsibility for promoting the profession, improving public understanding, spreading best practice and driving up its standards”.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has yet to respond to BASW’s statement.

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