College of Social Work to close by end of September

After a board meeting yesterday it was confirmed the college would wind up its functions over the next three months

The College of Social Work will close by the end of September, the professional body’s board has announced.

The College board met yesterday to discuss their options and concluded that closing the organisation was the only viable way forward. Community Care understands that extra government funding has been secured to sustain The College’s trading for the next three months.

Transition arrangements

The three month window will allow The College to make transition arrangements for its functions and resources. These include the professional capabilities framework, the principal social workers’ network and an endorsement scheme for best interests assessor training programmes.

College chair Jo Cleary confirmed the timetable for closure after a board meeting yesterday. Cleary said that the board would work to ensure a “smooth and safe transition” and would update members once further arrangements had been made.

She said: “The board would like to thank [everyone involved] for their passion, commitment and hard work, without whom there would be no College legacy to secure for the future.”

Grassroots movement

At yesterday’s meeting, the College’s board considered the findings from a survey carried out by a group of social workers, brought together on social media under the banner “TCSW Phoenix”. The survey canvassed social worker views on The College and alternatives to closure.

The survey, which received 269 responses in 24 hours, suggested more than 80% favoured a merger with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). However, the support for a merger was conditional among some respondents. For instance one social worker said they would only back a merger if it was “the only option” and another said they would only support it if BASW created a “separate charity” to handle College functions.

Sally-ann Rodbourne, who launched the TCSW Phoenix group and wrote the report on the survey findings, said the survey had indicated there was “not a groundswell of desire to keep the College of Social Work alive in its current form”.

She said that any organisation that followed The College needed to be built by social workers themselves.

The report said social workers were keen to retain the college’s existing functions, including a clear framework for continuing professional development, accrediting the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment and supporting specialist networks, such as Approved Mental Health Professionals, as well as providing a strong voice in the media.

Other roles it was suggested could be taken on by a professional college included providing a way for members to whistle blow, providing independent advocacy distinct from a union, and running exams and assessments in specialist areas.

The College’s Professional Assembly also met yesterday afternoon. A statement from assembly members is expected in coming days.

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