Reform board sets out social work’s first national standards

The Social Work Reform Board has set out what is expected of social workers at every stage of their career in the profession’s first ever national standards framework.

The proposed professional capabilities framework for social workers in England will be used as the benchmark for practice and future training and career structures.

The framework is spread over nine core standards:

• Professionalism – identify and behave as a professional social worker.

• Values and ethics – apply ethical principles of social work to practice.

• Diversity – apply anti-discriminatory principles in practice.

• Rights, justice and economic well being – advance human rights and promote social justice and economic wellbeing

• Knowledge – apply knowledge of social sciences, law and social work practice theory.

• Critical reflection and analysis – apply critical reflection to inform decision-making.

• Intervention and skills – use judgement and authority to intervene with individuals, families and communities to promote independence and prevent harm, neglect and abuse.

• Contexts and organisations – engage with and adapt to changing contexts, and operate effectively within multi-agency settings.

• Professional leadership – take responsibility for the professional development of others through supervision, mentoring, teaching and assessment.

The framework, intended to act “as a focal point for all other social work standards”, is set out in the Social Work Reform Board’s report, Building a Safe and Confident Future: One Year On, which also contains proposals for minimum supervision requirements of 90-minute sessions and tougher entry requirements for the social work degree.

The report said the framework would neither be a substitute for the code of practice for social care workers nor the proposed “standards of proficiency for social workers”, which will replace the code in 2012. This is because the profession should not be “defined” by minimum standards.

“We believe that social work is much more than minimum practice, and that this new framework will enable the profession to articulate its purpose and practise in a more sophisticated and coherent way,” the report said.

The standards were drawn up using feedback from people across the social work sector, including social workers, managers, practice educators, academics and workforce development managers.

The framework “remains a work in progress” and the themes will be developed during a consultation period. Anyone interested in commenting on the proposals should email the reform board , ask their representative organisations to submit them on their behalf, or visit the reform board’s website for more details.

Read our special report on what the Social Work Reform Board proposals means for the profession’s future. Includes podcast with reform board chair Moira Gibb
What do you think? Join the debate on the reform board report on CareSpace 

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