Government scheme to ‘sharpen’ social work skills on permanency

Training scheme will be optional and based on new knowledge and skills statement on achieving permanence

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The government will launch a training programme for social workers designed to ‘sharpen’ their skills around making permanency decisions.

The training scheme will be optional and based on a new knowledge and skills statement on achieving permanence that is being developed by the Department for Education.

In a report published this week, the government said the move reflected a wish to provide social workers with more opportunities for professional development “which promote depth of practice” in children’s social work.

“The first area of practice we want to focus on is the knowledge and skills required to achieve permanence for children within and outside the social care system. We are creating a new optional training programme to support social workers to develop or sharpen skills they need in order to make and support robust permanence decisions,” the report said.

“We will use this area to trial this approach to developing depth of practice and then consider whether additional areas of child and family social work would benefit from a similar approach.”


The government is seeking views on whether the training programme should be targeted at newly qualified social workers, practitioners new to permanence work or any social worker who wants to develop their skills in this area.

A draft version of the knowledge and skills statement for permanence has been published for consultation. The statement sets out what social workers need to do in order to successfully achieve permanence for children and factors they should consider when making assessments.

The draft said social workers should be able to ‘eliminate drift’ by reaching the right decision for children as quickly as possible, and should be able to confidently defend those decisions under scrutiny. Assessments should be accessible, high quality and well-presented and social workers should be able to present cases in court “with professional gravitas”, it added.

The government also said this week it would develop a new programme to help train frontline social workers transitioning to supervision roles. The report described this as the “ASYE for frontline practitioners”.

The consultation closes on 9 September.

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