How to meet the new social work rules on CPD and registration

Mark Potter, stakeholder communications manager at the Health and Care Professions Council, explains what social workers in England need to do to maintain their record of continuing professional development - an essential requirement of registration.

The Health and Care Professions Council standards for continuing professional development are very different to the General Social Care Council’s (GSCC) system of post registration training and learning (PRTL). This system required social workers in England to undertake ninety hours of learning over the three years of their GSCC registration.

The approach of the HCPC is to focus on the benefits of learning rather than time spent. We do not set a minimum number of hours or days that social workers will need to spend undertaking CPD, rather we focus on the outcome of learning activities and the impact on practice and service users.

Set out below is information on our standards, the process, and where to find more information. We hope that, like our existing professions, social workers will embrace the challenge of seeking out opportunities for learning and continuous improvement.

The standards for CPD

A registrant must:

1) Maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities

2) Demonstrate that their CPD activities are a mixture of learning activities relevant to current or future practice

3) Seek to ensure that their CPD has contributed to the quality of their practice and service delivery

4) Seek to ensure that their CPD benefits the service user

5) Upon request, present a written profile, which must be their own work and supported by evidence, explaining how they have met the standards for CPD

The process

Every professional registered with us is required to maintain a record (portfolio) of their learning. This can be either online or paper based. It should also be evidenced. It is this portfolio which we will draw upon if someone is selected for audit.

In September 2014 we will begin auditing the CPD of social workers in England. We do this for each profession we regulate every two years, in line with their registration renewal dates. We will randomly select 2.5 per cent of social workers in England and give those selected around three months to prepare and submit a CPD profile.

This is not a professional’s entire portfolio of evidence, it is more a snapshot of their learning and changes in their practice over the previous two years. If selected, we will send a form to be completed which tells us about their learning and development over the past two years.

The work of assessing the profile will be undertaken by ‘partners’ – HCPC registered social workers and other professions working in pairs to assess whether the standards have been met.

The CPD profile

A CPD profile has four components:

  1. List of CPD activities (for the last two years)
  2. Summary of recent work (for the last two years) – 500 words maximum
  3. Statement of how standards have been met – 1,500 words maximum
  4. Supporting evidence

The list of activities shows that you have met standard one, whilst the summary gives you an opportunity to highlight your recent scope of practice. This is so we can assess whether your CPD is relevant to your area of work.

The statement is the largest part of the profile. It is where you can highlight in detail a number of activities that you feel have benefited your practice and service users. The most straightforward approach to doing this is to select three or four activities which you feel have made a difference to your work.

You will need to explain:

  • what the activity was
  • what you learnt; and
  • what you now do differently as a result

Ideally, we want a reflection of 300–500 words per activity. The key thing is to focus on standards three and four and the benefits to your practice and service users.

Finally, we will ask to see a small selection of evidence, which supports what you have told us in the CPD profile. This can be almost anything ranging from journal reviews to research notes, certificates and reflections.

Here are some helpful suggestions from CPD assessors on examples of good practice as well as questionable practice.


  • Keep it simple. Use simple language to describe the CPD you have done, what you have learnt from it, and how it has benefited you and other people
  • Choose three to five CPD activities over the last two years. Tell us what you did, what you learnt, and the benefits to you and other people
  • Remember to include a dated list of all the CPD activities you have completed in the last two years to demonstrate that you have met CPD standard 1

Examples of good practice in CPD submissions

  • Printing and sending a list of CPD activities for the whole period of CPD being assessed (i.e. allowing assessors to clearly see that standard 1 is met)
  • Printing and sending examples of different types of CPD activities for the whole period of CPD being assessed (i.e. allowing assessors to clearly see that standard 2 is met)
  • A detailed personal statement that focuses on three to four different CPD activities
  • Personal statement taking a number of personal/professional objectives and demonstrating how these have been met and the benefits to service users
  • Use of one or two A4 pages to write up a record of a CPD activity undertaken (e.g. what they did, what was learnt, what the benefits were)
  • Using a structured format for the personal statement. For example: activity; what I leaned; how this learning affected how I work; how my learning has benefited service users/quality of work


  • Do not try to describe in detail every activity you have undertaken over the last two years. Instead, select a small number of different activities that you feel benefited you the most and write about each one
  • Do not send us evidence of all your CPD activities – we only need evidence to support that activities you have written about have taken place
  • Do not include evidence which is confidential or includes confidential information – e.g. names of patients or clients. Please make sure that any confidential information is anonymised before you send it to us

Examples of questionable/poor practice in CPD submissions

  • Sending in pieces of evidence marked “highly confidential” or “confidential”
  • Failing to send in a list of CPD activities over the last two years to demonstrate that standard 1 had been met
  • Submitting copies of patient reports / letters / case notes or patient-identifiable
    information as part of CPD evidence
  • Keeping a record of day-to-day work activities (i.e. confusion between what is CPD and what is actual work)
  • Listing activities that form part of a job description as a CPD activity without demonstrating standards 3 and 4 have been met. For example, recruitment activities such as short-listing for a post or interviewing are only CPD activities if the registrant is learning/developing their practice within these activities and can clearly explain and evidence this
  • Sending a sample of a professional body CPD log and suggesting that the assessors could log on and look at the log if further information required
  • Repeated use of “we” in a CPD statement with focus on what the department, service or organisation had achieved rather than what the individual had learnt
  • Excessive use of profession-specific abbreviations in the statement
  • Printing and sending professional body CPD in monthly / calendar format or just printing the certificate or hours, as this provides insufficient detail

For more information on CPD, visit the HCPC website, which has links to publications, presentations and sample CPD profiles.

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