New Professional Capabilities Framework adds three ‘overarching principles’ for social workers

BASW has launched an updated version of the PCF with added clarity on how it links with Knowledge and Skills Statements

The new PCF Fan. Photo: BASW

A refresh of the social work Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) has added three “overarching principles” to guide all social workers in their practice.

The three principles – purpose, practice, and impact – are the first major changes to the PCF since responsibility for it was passed on to the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) following The College of Social Workers’ demise in 2015.

The refresh, published this week and open for feedback until April 4, also includes a joint statement from BASW and the two chief social workers, Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo, about how the PCF and Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS) relate to one another.

“Together, the PCF and KSS provide the foundation for social work education and practice in England at qualifying and post-qualifying levels and are used to inform recruitment, workforce development, performance appraisal and career progression.

“The KSS set out what a social worker should know, and be able to do, in specific practice settings, in specific roles and at different levels of seniority. The KSS maps on to the practice domains of the PCF (knowledge, critical reflection and analysis, interventions and skills) and should help guide every day practice.”

Definitions and descriptions

As part of the refresh, BASW has introduced new definitions and descriptions of the PCF in a bid to add clarity to what it means for practice.

It said the PCF is the “underpinning framework” for social work practice, which sets out common capabilities for what social workers should expect of themselves and what others should expect of them.

“The PCF does not define specialist knowledge and skills or lay out learning content that may be needed in particular work contexts. It describes the capabilities that all social workers should aspire to develop throughout their career.”


The new principles, referred to as ‘super domains’ on the PCF fan, which illustrates the framework, are intended to “add more clarity” to the PCF Fan graphic. The ‘super domains’ mean:

Purpose: why we do what we do as social workers, our values and ethics, and how we approach our work

Practice: what we do – the specific skills, knowledge, interventions and critical analytic abilities we develop to act and do social work

Impact: How we make a difference – our ability to bring about change through our practice, through our leadership, through understanding out context and through our overall professionalism.

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13 Responses to New Professional Capabilities Framework adds three ‘overarching principles’ for social workers

  1. neil March 2, 2018 at 1:37 pm #

    Can someone please tell me of any other professions that require so much from their workforce with so little remuneration ?

    • R king March 2, 2018 at 8:56 pm #

      Yeah good comment

    • North West March 2, 2018 at 9:05 pm #

      No – but cant you see Isabel took time out from her busy schedule of planning how to train and sanction us to just give us more things to remember before we have to go and get tested. That’s worth more than money!

    • Sue March 3, 2018 at 9:03 am #

      Nurses and teachers for a start. Regardless of remuneration, we owe it to the adults and children we are working with to refresh our skill regularly.

    • Bex March 3, 2018 at 9:22 am #

      Could still pay me 100k a year and it doesn’t cushion the blow of the immense pressure we are under ☺. The sheer amount of work and not enough hands. The expectation in 37hrs is not realistic hence most of us work 54hrs making our pay less that the minimum. Two years is avg lifespan of a childrens frontline worker… clues are there. Doesn’t matter how much we dress it up… we need staff retention.

    • Kaye March 4, 2018 at 10:21 am #

      Probation service do for sure

  2. Karen March 2, 2018 at 9:36 pm #

    I totally agree with Neil. Social work profession is becoming relentless in workload with little reward. What is so frustrating how some old school social workers who have been in the same work place would not even pass the first hurdle when it comes to understanding the basic principles of the PCF principles

    • Richard allen March 8, 2018 at 5:54 am #

      Completely agree. My personal experience with old school SW is they are stuck in a rut, out of touch and have such a pre set mind set as they have seen it all etc.

      Complain and ur toldnu wrong, go to ombudsman and professional standards and they are clearly to busy to care as well.

      • Graham March 29, 2018 at 12:13 pm #

        I have to confess that, from my old school rut I cannot understand what ‘ur toldnu wrong’ means. One thing I did learn many years ago was to write with clarity and to check my spelling!

    • Graham March 29, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

      As an old school social worker (whatever that is) I may not understand ‘the basic principles of the PCF principals’ but at least I can write a sentence that makes sense.

  3. Jo bloggs March 3, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

    Yes Neil, all of those jobs which social workers used to do that are now paid at least £10k less. Completing Carers needs assessments, demenita support workers etc. We would love your pay and conditions.

  4. JP March 5, 2018 at 9:30 am #

    How long did it take the esteemed minds at BASW to come up with this one?

    Anyone heard anything else about the ‘respect’ campaign they launched with such fanfare last year?

    Same old story with BASW I’m afraid. I’m not aware with any professional association or union that does so little for those whose money they take every month.

  5. Richard allen March 7, 2018 at 6:27 am #

    Anything to raise the professionalism of them will help. In my area there is certainly plenty of room for improvement.

  6. Bee March 8, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    Interested to know – does anyone actually see the PCF or the Skills statements actively used in social work (or even mentioned) following qualification and the ASYE?

    • James March 14, 2018 at 12:06 pm #

      Not a chance Bee, but If someone can answer what is a Social Worker that would be great. Not a generalisation as in this case everyone who works in the care sector engages in Social Work. I suppose this is easier to answer in Children’s Services but good luck for Adults.