The chair of the national college development group has accused the British Association of Social Workers of trying to derail efforts to build the strongest possible institution.
Allan Bowman, who also chairs the Social Care Institute for Excellence, has written to BASW’s acting chair, Fran Fuller, suggesting it was “unhelpful” to highlight differences rather than their shared ambitions.
“BASW appears to be trying to subvert the agenda away from building one college which is what the development group has signed up to do,” Bowman added in a statement to Community Care.
He explained that the group, which is overseeing the formation of a national college of social work under the reform programme for England, had agreed on a development process and terms of reference.
“BASW has actually signed up to these but they now seem to be asking us to change them,” he said. “This is beyond our agreed remit and not what we believe to be the best way forward for the profession.”
BASW called its ballot after doubts about the independence of the proposed college. But Bowman said recent press statements issued by BASW contained inaccuracies, and reiterated the development group’s commitment to ensuring the college’s independence.
However, he invited Fuller to meet members of the college development group after BASW has held its member vote over launching a separate college covering the entire UK regardless of the outcome.
“The objective of the meeting will be to reach an agreed position to build one college,” said Bowman.
BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson was “delighted” by the invitation. Fuller would meet the development group on 29 April, the day after BASW’s next council meeting.
“I imagine [council members] will want BASW to carry on negotiating with other organisations,” he said. “There is a solution to be found. We all need to be flexible and hear what each other is saying.”
In a recent proposal submitted to the college development group, BASW suggested a joint working programme under which members of the group could take on a “formal advisory role” to the UK college.
But Bowman rejected the offer. “We do not see it as appropriate to take on a formal advisory role to a different college led by BASW or to nominate social workers to a council for their college,” he said.