Social work college: BASW claims disputed

A leading member of the social work college development group has disputed the British Association of Social Workers’ claim that its views have been ignored.

Sue White, chair of the Association of Professors of Social Work, spoke out on Community Care’s online discussion forum, CareSpace, after BASW complained of being “patronised” and its proposals “ignored” during talks about the national college.

BASW has been barred from attending the development group’s meetings while it ballots its members on setting up a separate college for the profession covering the UK.

White said BASW’s claims of being excluded should be handled with caution. “There is a serious need to examine cause and effect,” she said.

“I am, like many others, dismayed and saddened at the timing of BASW’s actions when they had been so proactive at starting the process and I can understand why BASW may feel sidelined.

“But it is simply not true that BASW were not listened to. They were fully and very competently represented at the [college development group] and were very influential, until announcing their decision.”

White also dismissed BASW’s concerns that the college would become “another quango” and that the government’s offer to provide £5m in start-up funding came “with strings attached”. She added that the principles of BASW’s proposed college – “democracy, accountability ,independence and power [for the profession]” – were no different from the development group’s.

“There are no advocates within the [development group] for another quango and, if there were the slightest sniff, I’d be resigning very noisily from the group,” White said. “I am an academic, I am independent of government and I have been a vociferous critic of some aspects of policy for the last 18 months. Why, after all that, would I support a quango?”

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of BASW, responded on CareSpace: “We want to helpwe want to support the efforts of good people to bring about an effective college which will transform the profession.”

Dawson added that he wanted the development group to “give membership now to every member of BASW and every social worker member of every other membership organisation”. He had offered to negotiate a way forward with the group, but “no-one responded to my request”.

Dawson added: “BASW would appreciate your support to move this on. Yours, Hilton.”

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