Social workers fare well in accreditation pilot

Initial analysis of accreditation pilot results suggests vast majority of practitioners performed well, Community Care has learned

Social workers fared well in a pilot scheme testing out accreditation of children and families practitioners, Community Care has learned.

The process has been trialled by 1,000 practitioners in recent months. Final analysis of scores is underway but sources with knowledge of the process said the vast majority of practitioners performed well in the tests.

A survey of participants conducted as part of the pilot also revealed almost all social workers thought the accreditation process was good and the scenarios assessed realistic.

Pass marks

The Department for Education (DfE) has still to decide what pass mark will be set for accreditation when the process is rolled out.

However, if the standard 50% pass thresholds used in postgraduate and post qualifying training programmes were applied, almost all practitioners in the pilot would have passed, initial analysis suggested.

In 2012, DfE applied a 63% pass mark for skills tests for prospective teachers. Even if social work accreditation was set at this threshold, the vast majority of participants would still have passed the process.


Ministers could seek feedback on where the pass threshold should be set when a consultation is launched on accreditation in coming months.

The trial results reportedly showed social workers scored highest in the online test component which assessed their knowledge and skills. Results were more variable but still ‘generally high’ for practice observation scores given by employers and scenario-based assessments.

There was a discrepancy between the ratings given to practitioners by employers in practice observation compared to the verdict of assessors in the scenario-based tests. This led to some concerns that employers may have been too generous in their scoring.

Public confidence

The government has said accreditation will offer “a confident national system of social work expertise upon which the public can rely”. The development of the assessment process has cost £2m so far, under a contract awarded to a partnership led by audit firm KPMG.

The overall cost of the scheme will largely depend on whether the government decides to make accreditation mandatory or not.

This week children’s minister Edward Timpson said “every” children’s social worker will be accredited against the chief social worker for children’s knowledge and skills statement. The DfE said no decision on whether the assessments will be mandatory has been made and a consultation, promised in January, will still go ahead.

The DfE is understood to be pleased with the pilot results but the department declined to comment on the accreditation feedback.

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3 Responses to Social workers fare well in accreditation pilot

  1. Get me out of here April 28, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Very punitive approach. Fail to pass and you will be out of work your career ended. I think on-going training is always useful to develop skills, being under threat of losing your job is just stress. It seems wrong that an external organisation can effectively terminate your employment not your employer. Many Social Workers with commitments, mortgages will be left in fear of being made unemployed. The whole ethos of this starts from the point of Social Workers are useless and are not up to their jobs. What with poor pay, low status and terrible terms of conditions who would consider Social work as a career? It is also unfair to older Social Workers who have been in the profession for many years as they will have to compete academically with much younger Social workers still fresh from years of training on Social work courses. For KPMG this is just a nice little bung from the Government. Nothing at all positive here for Social Workers. How about tests for MPs to see if they are fit to sit in Parliament, my guess many would fail.

  2. Craig Skinner April 28, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Wait, you mean the problem isn’t Social Workers? Who knew! maybe we can start to look at the system which these (soon to be confirmed) adequate professionals are practising. Who are they going to blame next?

  3. Tom J April 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    I think this seems wonderful. No more blame and ‘a confident national system of social work expertise upon which the public can rely’.

    What’s not to like? Once we all pass the test there will be no more problems, no more criticism from the media and politicians, serious case reviews will become a thing of the past and the children and families we support will all be given a Rolls Royce service.

    Yes we all know that KPMG maybe got things a bit wrong with Coop bank (Google; KPMG faces investigation over Co-op Bank audit) and perhaps £2m million is a lot of money- but I am sure that they have turned a new leaf and social values are now at the heart of all that they do. I say money well spent. In fact lets give KPMG £10 million and make the tests even harder.

    Sick of any of this? Stand up for yourself and your profession. Join Unison, join BASW, do what you can, link with others and say enough!