Social work college: Scie ‘will be midwife not parent’

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has dismissed claims that it will have undue control over a proposed national college of social work, stating it will be “the midwife, not the parent”.

Scie convened the first meeting of an official group of social workers, employers and unions last week to discuss the formation of a national college, as recommended by the Social Work Task Force.

A representative from the British Association of Social Workers attended the meeting despite BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson’s criticisms about the involvement of Scie and government officials, which posed “serious threats” to the organisation’s success, he said.

Dawson told an audience of social work students in Cheltenham last week that Scie was “a worthy organisation but not one led by social workers”.

However, the chair of Scie, Allan Bowman, who is a qualified social worker, told Community Care there had been “broad agreement on how to take forward the issue of setting up the college” during the first meeting.

“Scie is very pleased to be asked to perform this role and we welcome the opportunity to start working with partners, including BASW, on the development of the College,” he said.

“We will manage the logistics of establishing the college; we will not run it or lead it. We will be the midwife, not the parent.”

Voice of the profession

The government accepted the recommendation to set up a national college in order to provide a powerful voice for the profession and a single point of responsibility for setting standards and spreading best practice, following the final report of the taskforce in December.

Dawson threatened to pull out of the talks last month and attempt to set up a separate, “independent” college.

Although BASW now appears to be taking part in the official steering group, Dawson said at the conference in Cheltenham last week: “BASW has worked on the college, commissioned work on the college, consulted on the college in all four countries of the UK, and offered our whole organisation and our 12,500 members as part of the founding basis of the college, but never felt we had it properly accepted by those people we spoke with.”

The college development group also includes the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Aspect, Unison, the Association of Professors of Social Work, the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee, and two social workers from the Social Work Task Force.

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