Mandatory accreditation of children’s social workers will not happen until after 2020 – if it happens at all – the government has said.
In its Putting Children First policy paper published this week, the government confirmed it would consult later this year on whether accreditation should be compulsory, but said if it was decided to make the pass or fail tests mandatory, it “would not be until after 2020”.
The government said this would be after it expects “all child and family social workers to have had the opportunity to be accredited”.
Backed by employers
Nearly 1,000 social workers have trialled the assessment process for accreditation as part of the Department for Education’s pilot.
The plans mean accreditation would be optional for social workers when the scheme begins being rolled out next year, despite mandatory accreditation being backed by employers. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services have previously called for an immediate mandatory roll out of the system, to avoid uncertainty among the social work workforce.
As well as whether the tests should be compulsory, the consultation will address what roles or functions accreditation should be made mandatory for, and what the consequences of failing to achieve it would be.
The government also wants an accredited practice leader in place in every local authority by 2020, and the Tri-Borough local authorities – Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea – will lead work to develop and deliver the practice leader programme, with the first to be accredited in 2017.
The first phase of the rollout of accreditation will be led by Partners in Practice councils – identified by the government as high performers in children’s services – and volunteer local authorities. It is expected that Assessed and Supported Year in Employment participants will complete accreditation following their first year in the job once the scheme is rolled out.
This announcement comes as the government announces the launch of two new training programmes for social workers.
The first programme, which will start next year, will work with social workers transitioning from frontline practice into supervision roles. This would be “the ASYE for frontline practitioners”, the government said.
The other would be to support social workers who need to develop skills around permanence decisions, with the training based on the new permanence knowledge and skills statement, which the government is currently consulting on.
Elsewhere, the government wants to ensure “every local authority” can utilise the Frontline and Step Up To Social Work training programmes, and will work with local authority managers to “ensure full national coverage” of the two schemes by 2020.