A question of social work: panelists debate dilemmas facing the profession

After a packed day at the Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, the panel debates 'A Question of Social Work'

The panel assembles to debate A Question of Social Work


Community Care’s very own Ruth Smith chairs the panel debate tonight with a full cast of esteemed social work leaders and workers:

19.45 The panel begins talking about how to enliven ‘dead’ social work culture and how to tackle auditing culture


19.47 Alan Baird says academics need to be made by the HCPC to return to practice in order to stay in touch with reality and boost credibility

19.51 Annie Hudson says academics have become too distant and research needs to be disseminated into practice

19.55 We hear from the floor as a member of the audience takes to the mic to reject notion that academics are out of touch with reality. This prompts a round of applause

19.58 Ruth Smith reiterates that we need to stop thinking in binaries

20.01 Newly qualified social worker Liane McGovern says social workers are connected to the families they work with but the system doesn’t allow them to be as personal as they’d like

20.05 Speaking from the floor, one member believes we should expand the way we select students for a richer pool of future social workers

20.07 Thatcher’s ‘helpful’ business model has created a situation where we are all divided from each other, a situation compounded by austerity thinks one social work academic

20.10 In Scotland there’s a real effort to listen to frontline social workers not just descend into managerialism. Annie Hudson responds by making the distinction between management and managerialism. Lots of lively debate and audience contribution going on.

20.17 Chief social worker Isabelle Trowler makes it clear she wants the last word, telling an audience member firmly that development plans are categorically not a substitute for economic deficit

20.20 Hugh McLaughlin frankly discusses his own mother’s struggle with dementia and makes clear the value of social workers

20.24 Harry Ferguson reiterates from his keynote speech this morning that he meant we need to focus on those inspirational social workers not as people who have ‘slipped through the net’ but as the majority- not focus on those who  have been ground down by the system

20.25 Annie Hudson says there’s been a good slew of documentaries that have drawn attention to what social workers do- programmes like BBC’s ‘I Want My Baby Back’ and ITV’s ‘Don’t Take My Child’ have been controversial with social workers however

20.30 Strong feelings over Alan Wood’s ‘crap students’ comment are reprised by an audience member who said that this kind of language would fall short of her expectations of a first year student, let alone someone who “claims to represent the profession”- how do we call them to account? she asks

20.35 The floor calls for greater collectivity- we need to work together. Isabelle Trowler responds: “do something”

20.38 Accept there will be tensions and difficulties says Lyn Romeo- there must be grit and debate and conflict

20.39 Now is the time for social work to be fighting back, thinks Hugh McLaughlin

20.45 “We need to be troubling students, not making them happy.” “We can’t be complacent- we’ve got a lot of work to do.” Passion from the floor about equality of service.

20.46 One audience member asks- are we creating the managers of tomorrow? Don’t think manager is a compliment here…

Another refers to FrontLine as the ‘elephant in the room’

20.52 a debate full of impassioned  sentiments, Hugh McLaughlin describes austerity as an excuse to do things to people that would never be done in any other situation

20.54 What does the panel think about modelling social work education on health education, asks one audience member. Is the current training adequate?

20.59 We’re nearly out of time. Isabelle Trowler says “it’s the endgame that matters and there are many many ways to get there”

21.01 and running over time… Kish Bhatti-Sinclair stresses that we have to align ourselves with Europe and the rest of the world on how long our social work degree is. We are ideologically flawed.

This is met with hearty applause.

21.02 Ruth Smith calls time so everyone can get to their Social Care Curry… it’s been a very lively debate tonight.

21.03 The hall is clearing and Community Care are off to get a good night’s sleep before the learning and discussion continues tomorrow. Follow our coverage #JSWEC

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One Response to A question of social work: panelists debate dilemmas facing the profession

  1. A Higgy July 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    As a profession we are told how social workers should practice and are also informed academics are not out of touch, but why are social workers being told how to practice by academics who are not social workers, nor are on the HCPC register….( such as Bhatti-Sinclair) who is not registered. Lets all be accountable and transparent, upholding professional values and standards and promote the profession, by the profession.

    I would like to see social work led by social workers. Academics should be on the HCPC register to be credible and accountable like everyone else.