Social workers’ physical fitness to be assessed in pass or fail tests

The move could see social workers having to climb walls and crawl through barbed wire to be allowed to work with service users

Social workers will need to complete a comprehensive physical fitness test to be able to practice, the government has said.

Announced today, the move could see social workers having to climb walls, hurtle across revolving logs and crawl through barbed wire as part of a qualifying method “similar to, but more intense than, ITV’s TV show Ninja Warrior”.

The minister for the Department for Making Public Servants Jump Through Hoops, Peter Ian Staker, said the move would “finally provide a real test of a social worker’s fitness to practice”.

The Association of British Social Workers expressed surprise that, after all the years of the term’s use, it only just realised “fitness to practice” was meant literally.

“We thought it was more about a social worker’s ability to use theory and conduct assessments, rather than complete an obstacle course in less than two minutes,” a spokesperson said.

Resilience and stamina

It is unclear whether social workers who fail the 784 metre course, which will include three 20-foot plummets into water, will be able to retake the test.

Staker said: “We’ve always had social workers who are competent at using theory and working with people, but what we are concerned about is that there seems to be a remarkable lack of social workers able to climb 40 metres up a slippery pole with a weight strapped to their legs. It is this kind of resilience and stamina we expect from frontline social workers, and it isn’t what we are seeing.”

Business leaders from the adventure playground sector have said that the announcement has resulted in a “huge boost” in the numbers of local authorities purchasing playground climbing apparatus for council offices. One children’s services director told Community Care that having a great outdoor playground will now be seen as key to a council’s continuing professional development offer.


April Loof, the spokesperson for The Association of British Social Workers, said: “I think our members will be furious about this. ‘Fitness to practice’ is meant literally? That’s outrageous. Where will social workers get the time to maintain fitness with huge caseloads? Where will they get the energy to practice handstands on a wall ledge after working 16 hour days?”

Staker said the move was about ensuring public trust in the profession. He said: “People should know that – not only should their social worker WANT to run through barbed wire for them – their social worker should be able to, and have an approved status showing it.”

The government is yet to decide on whether they will grant television rights to the tests. Staker said there was a public interest in seeing social workers complete the tests, and there was a convenient slot available just before X Factor.

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31 Responses to Social workers’ physical fitness to be assessed in pass or fail tests

  1. Speedo April 1, 2016 at 7:28 am #

    Also in the news today is that HCPC have announced that 4 Directors of Children’s Services are to face disciplinary hearings for threatening social work staff who do not complete assessments within DfE timeframes even though their teams are grossly understaffed.

  2. Desmond Troy April 1, 2016 at 9:54 am #

    This is just typical of the Tories. It’s just like them to attack us further. I suppose because they went to public school where they got to eat the finest of food, making them greedy and selfish, they now feel that they have to make social workers pay for their own class guilt about being obese on their own superiority complex. I dunno… this is beyond a joke, even for the first of April, of all days!!!!

  3. Thomas Kellner April 1, 2016 at 9:54 am #

    I have also heard this will involve vigorous testing of strength in one’s fingers, for typing, and wrist for lifting cups of coffee and eating cake. Whatever will the government come up with next?

  4. Wow April 1, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    This must be a April fools joke!!?

  5. Heather April 1, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    Is this an April fool joke?

  6. julia abadi April 1, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    What’s the date today? Nearly had me going 🙂

  7. Maria April 1, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    Exactly! Where am I going to get the time to practice handstands on a ledge & perhaps I don’t want to crawl through barbed wire fences for my clients (it has nothing to do with the fact that I can’t! 😀 x

  8. TMS April 1, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    April Fool possibly; but maybe not!

  9. Sarah April 1, 2016 at 10:00 am #


  10. David G April 1, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Love that! Sign me up!! I demand that we get better representation from April Loof!!!! And where can I complain to Mr P.I.Staker?

  11. Lynn April 1, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    But this surely is nothing new to frontline social workers? Running the gauntlet of funding panels, crawling over broken glass to get agreement for services and ignoring the barbed wire of the media is all in a long, long days work.
    I wish there really was a minister for the Department for Making Public Servants Jump through Hoops, at least then we would have an actual person to argue against, rather than just any inexperienced and unqualified backbencher trying to make a name for themselves who feel they know better.

  12. Patricia Higgins April 1, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    Brilliant, it made me laugh out loud

  13. Francis April 1, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    This brings a whole new perspective to our work here at The Who Cares? Trust looking at the testing of Social Workers.

  14. Mark Wogan April 1, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    I was hoping the Ministry of Silly walks would want to override this decison… and have us all walk with a distinct social worker walk…

  15. Karen April 1, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    It’s a prank people! “April Loof”. Had me going for a sec, definitely a good one

  16. Andrea April 1, 2016 at 11:53 am #

    I was about to launch into a ‘what the ……………’ when I remembered the date – very good! Although a bit worried about the idea of putting something out there in the universe – we did have screaming Lord Such after all!!

  17. Hannah April 1, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    April Fooooools! Haha! I was reading this thinking you have got to be joking… reminded me about the one last year with One Direction ha ha!

  18. Piers Pratt April 1, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    I think this is a good idea and long overdue. There is a growing problem with obesity in society and Social Workers should be role models. How can we expect our clients to lead healthier lifestyles if we come to work and cope with stress by eating biscuits and chocolate as so many of my colleagues do. I have also lost count of the number of times I’ve come into work Monday morning and when I’ve asked my colleagues what they did during the weekend instead of saying they did an outward bound course or practised jujitsu they say they watched television or went to the pub. This is bringing the profession into disrepute. I am also concerned that the HCPC are not being more proactive in sanctioning Social Workers who don’t take care of their physical fitness.

  19. Pauline April 1, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    If they brought this in I would be out of a job! I can do social work because it involves lots of sitting down. Great April Fool.

  20. Old School April 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    Excellent – priceless!! 🙂

    At least we still have a sense of humour in the profession.

    • mary brady - retired April 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

      Echoed – so good to see a sense of humour still prevails. Thank you to all of you who are still ‘fighting the good fight’.

  21. Dean April 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    Good April fools, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this government implemented it.

  22. Gina April 1, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    I managed to get a few folk to believe this at first 🙂 thank you to whoever it was who took the time to cheer us up on this April Fools day.

  23. Mary Brady April 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

    So glad to see a sense of humour still prevails from SW’s. Thank you for all you are doing and still ‘fighting the good fight’. Apparently Osborne is considering floating a ‘virtual health service’ online !!! I have seen it and it is very funny.

    • Sharon Ayles April 1, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

      Brilliant! Made me laugh out loud.

  24. Sandra April 1, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

    Ha ha April Loof aka April fool

  25. Ivanrowell April 1, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

    Bring it on and remember to lead by example so let the dim witt minister be in front of me 2 minutes and counting let’s go

  26. Anita Singh April 1, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

    So what about Georgie Porgie’s fitness to practise, perhaps Mr Osbourne can be asked to compete in the Olympics in a wheelchair and then practice his fitness to practice on London Underground or the train services before making judgements about personal independence payments.

  27. Avvers April 1, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

    I’m all up for the Hurl a manger through the window competition! Better get my guns benching 80kg in preparation. I love April fools ….

  28. Sandra Bailey April 2, 2016 at 7:58 am #

    You had me reaching for my phone ready to call my nearest job centre to make a appointment until I noticed the names, government departments and date – not that I don’t believe that the government hasn’t already got several MP’s known as P. I. Staker – I have to say, job well done guys, you got me!

  29. Don Don April 2, 2016 at 8:38 am #

    I’m for it as long as the managers and senior manager have to do the same