The British Association of Social Workers has been asked to step down from the national college development group amid growing criticism of its decision to launch a breakaway social work college.
Earlier today, Community Care revealed that BASW has vowed to launch a breakaway UK college in reaction to persistent doubts over the independence of the official college development group
Responding to the news, Allan Bowman, newly-appointed chair of the development group, said: “BASW has been an important part of discussions to date but while they carry out a referendum on a breakaway college, there is a clear conflict of interest.
“As such, they have been asked to reconsider their position on the development group during the period of the referendum,” said Bowman.
Community Care has also learnt that BASW council members were split on the decision to ballot the association’s 12,500 members on whether to form a breakaway college, voting nine to four in favour of the decision.
Other social work leaders have condemned BASW’s proposals. Helga Pile, Unison’s national officer for social work, questioned whether social workers would be willing to fund a breakaway college.
She said: “Social workers must already pay professional registration fees, which look set to rise, and most want to belong to a union for their own protection and to have a voice in the workplace. So the big question mark about how any college can be funded has to be addressed in a sensible way.
“From that point of view a break-away college doesn’t make sense.”
She added: “We have always had concerns that the focus on the college risks becoming a distraction from implementing all the other pressing reforms which social workers need to make every day practice more bearable, and these developments only serve to confirm those concerns.”
Moira Gibb, chair of the Social Work Reform Board and former chair of the Social Work Task Force, told Community Care she was “surprised and very disappointed” at BASW’s decision.
She advised all BASW members to “think carefully” about going it alone, adding: “The taskforce was constantly reminded of the stretch in the social work system, with little capacity for developing the future. To split this capacity into competing colleges would be short-sighted.”
A consultation on the official national college of social work will be launched in May in order to agree the details of its purpose and functions.
An independent interim chair and interim board to the college will be appointed in the summer. The interim chair post will be publicly advertised and open only to registered social workers.
Is BASW right to ballot members on launching its own college? Have your say on CareSpace
Final report of the taskforce