With the clock ticking down to national rollout, the Department for Education (DfE) has issued a ‘NAAS toolkit‘ to help employers and prospective candidates get to grips with social work accreditation.
The suite of documents, published yesterday, contains a range of materials, from guidance to help managers explain and sell the scheme to practitioners through to case studies and practice test questions.
The toolkit landing page says the resources should assist NAAS leads, practice supervisors and social workers in preparing for practice endorsement and the assessment itself.
Social work accreditation, which has been controversial since its announcement in 2015, is due to be implemented nationally on a voluntary basis next spring.
Community Care research earlier this year found practitioners were taking NAAS in their stride, while continuing to ask questions about its ultimate value, with participant numbers in early-adopter authorities apparently below DfE targets. Some councils are offering social workers up to £1,000 to take part.
Of greatest interest to individual practitioners preparing for NAAS will be the section of the new toolkit setting out what social workers can expect from their assessment session.
The assessment takes about four hours, including breaks, and includes multiple-choice questions, an online scenario-based assessment and a simulated practice observation involving actors.
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The toolkit includes one example simulated practice assessment – the real assessment contains two – relating to supporting an 11-year-old boy’s transition from a children’s home to foster care.
There are also a series of mock questions for the multiple choice section.
The DfE’s NAAS information release contains further information about councils already signed up to the scheme – which now number 56 – as well as a basic outline to help managers explain the multi-part assessment process.
It also features communications strategy advice for employers on pitching the programme – which is opposed by unions – to potentially sceptical employees in order to hit a suggested target of 20-30% participation.
This includes a myth-buster document as well as an ‘icebreaker’ activity that divides social workers into groups into groups and asks them to discuss words that best sum up NAAS.
Three case studies – from Manchester, North Yorkshire and Bexley – outline the different ways in which early-adopter councils have gone about the process of endorsing social workers for NAAS.
The DfE also says it is piloting enabling social workers to be practice-endorsed individually, rather than via their council’s NAAS. The new toolkit includes an email address for practitioners with queries about endorsement.