The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) will take on a set of College of Social Work resources, including the Professional Capabilities Framework, ahead of the College’s closure.
After a bidding process, the College’s board concluded that BASW’s “strong independent identity and relationship with social work” made it the best option to take on the package of resources. The transfer of the resources will be completed by the end of September, when the College will close due to a lack of funds.
The resources that will transfer to BASW include:
- The Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) – the overarching professional standards framework that was developed by the social work reform board.
- Several College of Social Work publications, including a report on the role of social workers in adult mental health services.
- A framework that can be used to endorse post-qualifying training programmes. This ‘CPD endorsement framework’ was not mandatory for providers to use.
Another optional College endorsement scheme, this time for qualifying programmes, will be temporarily hosted by the Greater Lancashire social work education and training network, a regional partnership of employers and higher education institutions.
The resources transferring to BASW do not include several pieces of work that the government had commissioned the College to carry out. The future of those functions, which include responsibility for hosting the principal social worker networks, will be decided by a separate government-run tendering exercise.
Jo Cleary, chair of The College, said BASW offered “the best prospect” to take on the PCF and the other resources.
“We believe that, in line with our criteria, BASW has a strong independent identity and relationship with social work to ensure that these functions and resources are well safeguarded,” she said.
Guy Shennan, chair of BASW, said it was essential that the resources transferred to BASW remained with the profession. Shennan said BASW would also maintain links and dialogue with social workers involved in the College’s three faculties – children’s, adults and mental health. Those networks will continue after the College’s closure.
The most significant of the resources transferred to BASW is the PCF. The framework, which was developed by the profession for the profession, sets out the standards social workers should reach at various stages of their career.
However, the influence of the framework on government policy has come into question in recent years. The chief social workers for children and adults have each developed their own knowledge and skills statements setting out the skills they believe social workers require. The chief social worker for adults’ knowledge and skills statement mentioned the PCF several times however it was not mentioned in the children’s chief social worker’s skills statement.
In the wake of the publication of the chief social workers’ skills statements, the College of Social Work launched a review of the PCF. Community Care understands that the PCF review will be completed, and the results published, prior to the College’s closure.
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University, said the government was “in danger of undermining” the PCF by pursuing separate sets of standards.
“The PCF is a really strong statement for two reasons. It was created by social workers through an extensive process of consultation and reflection led by the social work reform board. Secondly, it has got a coherence and a range which covers the breadth of activities and responsibilities for social workers. It also covers competencies required across the developing a social work career,” he said.
“I would hope that the Department for Education and the Department of Health will recognise the value of what already exists rather than choosing to create something totally new which will have less ownership within social work and less credibility.”
Jones said he welcomed the news that BASW was to take on several College of Social Work functions: “It’s very good news that a social worker-led organisation is taking on this work and it reflects a maturity of discussion between BASW and TCSW this time around that was not so evident when the TCSW was formed.”