Unison has launched a petition calling on the government to scrap plans to introduce accreditation tests for children’s social workers.
Addressed to the new children’s minister, Robert Goodwill, the union’s petition said the plans were the “final straw” for practitioners and the profession needed “funding not more tests”.
The Department for Education wants to have more than 30,000 social workers accredited by December 2020, with the tests initially introduced voluntarily at 31 councils before a national roll out.
The assessments would see social workers of all levels across children’s services gain different practice statuses. Social workers who failed would keep their registration.
The DfE has previously said the assessments would boost public confidence in social workers. But a Unison spokesperson said the tests would make conditions in social work worse and “could prove the final straw” for many experienced practitioners.
The union said Goodwill’s appointment represented an opportunity to rethink the plans.
“We have launched this petition to further demonstrate the level of opposition to this measure from the workforce,” the spokesperson said. “We hope the the new minister will listen to the concerns of frontline social workers and scrap the rollout…Our simple messages is ‘invest don’t test’.”
The DfE consulted on the accreditation plans earlier this year. The results of the consultation have still to be announced but several sector organisations have published their responses.
A survey of social workers undertaken by Unison as part of its response found 97% of practitioners did not feel they had enough time to prepare for the tests, and only 1% felt the assessments would address the main problems faced by the profession.
In its response, also based on a survey of social workers, the British Association of Social Workers labelled the plans “flawed” and “unpopular”. It said the tests risked deepening the profession’s recruitment and retention problems.
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services warned the tests were “poor value”, and would need to be mandatory to avoid workforce turbulence.
Rachael Wardell, ADCS’s workforce policy lead, said at the time: “In the context of austerity and rising demand for our services, the association questions whether the NAAS, at a cost of £23m to the public purse, represents good value for money.
“Instead, this money would be much better spent on supporting front line and early help services that we know are currently under enormous strain given the deepening pressures on children social care.”
The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.
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