GSCC reveals placement problems at Manchester and Royal Holloway

Two universities that failed to meet national standards for the social work degree in England have been revealed as Manchester and Royal Holloway.

Two English universities with social work courses judged “not satisfactory” by the General Social Care Council have been revealed as Manchester and Royal Holloway.

An investigation by Community Care has discovered that poor management of placements and “unacceptable” delays at Royal Holloway had contributed to some students failing. The university has suspended its undergraduate degree for the second year running.

Concerns at Manchester included a reduction in staff numbers, a lack of service user involvement and students being allowed on placement without being properly vetted.

The GSCC withheld the names of the institutions from its annual report on social work education for 2008-9 but they can now be identified after a Freedom of Information request from Community Care.

The two institutions – now known to be Manchester and Royal Holloway – were judged to have unsatisfactory programmes. In these cases the GSCC requires urgent improvement plans to be put in place. However, after further investigations by the GSCC it was established that Manchester did not need to take any additional action.
Both the MA and BA courses at Manchester  are still running, although recruitment for the BA course was stopped in 2008 due to planned changes first discussed several years previously. A spokesman for Manchester University said: “ We were able to satisfy the GSCC’s initial concerns and so our courses were approved.”

Of the 266 social work courses at 83 higher education institutions in England reviewed by the GSCC during 2007-8, about half were found to be performing well.

A spokesperson for the GSCC said it had not been policy to name individual universities but pointed to an announcement made earlier this year that the regulator would start publishing inspection reports on its website this summer.

This move would be “very helpful” to academics and prospective students, according to Anne Hollows, principal lecturer in social work at Sheffield Hallam University.

“I strongly feel that students have a right to know about the GSCC’s assessments, but they should be clear about what the problems are,” she said. “Sometimes you can trip up on matters which turn out to be quite technical.”

Professor Adam Tickell, vice-principal of Royal Holloway, admitted the GSCC had told the university of “serious concerns” about the quality of the BSc social work programme after a review in January 2009.

However, he said a follow-up review in January 2010 had found significant improvements.

Prof Tickell said no decision had been made about resuming the undergraduate course because the university had decided to concentrate its resources on delivering high-quality post-qualifying training.

“Our specialist level graduate diploma programme is by far the largest and most successful post qualifying child care programme in London,” he said.

The spokesperson for Manchester University added that the GSCC’s monitoring report for 2008-9 had commended areas of good practice and had not identified any requirements that were not being met.

Have your say

‘The calibre of social work students is worryingly low…’

Related articles

Social work course suspended at Royal Holloway

GSCC reviews powers to inspect degree courses

External information

Department of Health & Social Care, Royal Holloway, University of London

Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, Manchester University

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.