Social work masters cut as national college survives cull

Children's minister Tim Loughton promises to resource the national college of social work and the £23m social work improvement fund. But the CWDC's social work masters programme will be cut.

The government has promised to resource the national college of social work and the £23m social work improvement fund.

Other areas of social work have failed to escape the current round of spending cuts, however, as the Children’s Workforce Development Council announced it was scrapping the following projects:

● Be the Difference recruitment campaign to attract people into children’s social work.

● Master’s in social work practice, announced as part of the Social Work Reform Programme.

The announcement on the college came at the same time as the Department for Education confirmed it was conducting an independent review of children’s social work and frontline child protection practice, led by Professor Eileen Munro.

Children’s minister Tim Loughton told the House of Commons in a written statement that the 2010-11 grant for developing a national college, believed to be around £2.5m, would be retained.

He also confirmed that the £23m local social work improvement grant, and funding for the social work practice pilots – which have begun in five English councils in the last six months – would continue.

The £23m fund for local authority children’s services in England was announced by the previous administration in March, to help reduce pressure on frontline workers.

But the scrapping of the Master’s in social work practice comes just months after the previous children’s secretary, Ed Balls, pledged to make social work a “Master’s level profession”.

In its March 2010 report, Building a Safe and Confident Future: Implementing the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force, the previous Labour government said a new Master’s in Social Work Practice would be piloted from September 2011. It said this would provide a “core plank” of a new framework for continuing professional development in the profession.

The CWDC’s recruitment campaign was launched by the government in September 2009. It featured a series of TV, radio, press and billboard adverts urging aspiring social workers to Be the Difference, using a series of everyday objects, such as a bouncing ball or a lump of Plasticine, to highlight the variety of tools social workers use to communicate with children.

It is not clear whether the Master’s will continue to be supported by any other organisations.

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