University to join KPMG and Morning Lane in developing test for children’s social workers

The president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services said questions remained around how the test will be rolled out

Social workers will take two computer-based test. Photo: LNF/ flickr posed by model

The University of Leeds has joined a partnership with consultancy firm KPMG and Morning Lane Associates to advise on the development of a new accreditation system for children’s social workers.

The independent research body, Research in Practice, has also been enlisted alongside this partnership to provide research capacity around practice observation, which is likely to form part of the assessment.

Parents’ and carers’ perspectives

The new details were revealed by the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Alison O’Sullivan, following meetings with KPMG and Morning Lane Associates.

Family Rights Group, the charity providing support for families whose children are involved with social services, will represent parents’ and carers’ perspectives.

Family Rights Group and Research in Practice will be working independently to provide support and advice in developing the accreditation.

O’Sullivan flagged up questions still remaining around which staff will receive the accreditation, what will happen to those who fail and whether the process will duplicate councils’ existing arrangements for career progression.

She said: “ADCS is beginning conversations with Isabelle Trowler and the Department for Education to ensure that these wider issues are considered very carefully.

Practical challenges

“We all want to see the standing of social workers enhanced and accreditation does have an important role to play. So we will work closely with all concerned to ensure the practical challenges are thoroughly understood- and that we find the right ways to overcome them.”

The accreditation process will create three levels of child and family social work including  frontline social workers, practice leaders and supervisors.

The test is likely to be made up of a computer-based assessment, testing candidates knowledge and assessing their judgement using video scenarios. It will also involve observation of social workers’ practice.

The government’s decision to award the contract to develop the system to KPMG and Morning Lane Associates, the former company of the chief social worker, proved controversial in many circles, with many believing it should have been awarded to the College of Social Work. Chair of the college, Jo Cleary, cited missing out on the contract as one of the reasons the college is having to close down due to funding problems.

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