BASW council member resigns over breakaway college ballot

A council member of the British Association of Social Workers has resigned and another is threatening to leave after the decision to ballot members on forming a breakaway college of social work.

As controversy over the proposal continued to escalate, Ken Terry, a former assistant director of social services at Lewisham Council, e-mailed Community Care to confirm his resignation and accuse BASW of spending “several thousands of pounds” on a “meaningless referendum”.

Another council member has submitted their resignation but has been asked to reconsider. A spokesperson for BASW declined to reveal their identity.

BASW’s council voted last month to ballot its 12,500 members on whether the association should use its resources to “enable all UK social workers to benefit from a college of social work across the UK which will be accountable to them”.

Although BASW’s council on 24 February voted nine-four to propose setting up the organisation and ballot members, a further nine members of the 22-strong council did not take part.

BASW confirmed there were apologies from six members for reasons that included work commitments, annual leave and sickness. One member abstained from the vote and another had to leave before the vote.

Terry said: “I did not regard – on such an important issue – that the council should have rushed to make such an important decision without first securing the majority support of council members.”

He added that BASW’s vote had been premature because too little was known about the shape of the official national college, which was developed under the Social Work Reform Programme for England.

In its final report in December, the Social Work Task Force said a national college “should aspire to having universal membership among social workers in England and may wish to explore opportunities to extend its reach to other UK nations”.

Terry said BASW’s referendum would not give a clear idea of whether members in all four UK regions supported the proposal, “and it ignores the views of the 80,000-plus social workers who are not members of BASW”.

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, said of Terry’s criticisms: “All our council meetings are conducted in accordance with our well-established constitution and legal advisers were present throughout the debate on 24 February.”

He added: “Ken has made an excellent contribution to BASW and it is sad that he has decided to leave. BASW welcomes debate and Ken’s continued efforts would have been welcomed.”

Was BASW right to launch a breakaway UK social work college? Have your say on CareSpace

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External information

National College of Social Work


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