Social workers risk removal for failing to record CPD in new online accounts

However, Social Work England will only require practitioners to make one CPD entry in account in first year of new registration system

CPD Continuing Professional Development SEARCH WEBSITE INTERNET SEARCHING
Picture: fotolia/adiruch na chiangmai

By Rachel Carter and Mithran Samuel

Social workers risk removal from the register if they do not record any continuing professional development evidence in new online CPD accounts next year, Social Work England has proposed.

Under plans issued for consultation earlier this month, the new regulator has said that social workers will have to record at least one piece of evidence at the point of renewal next year, under the new system of annual registration that Social Work England will bring in.

Social workers will not be able to defer their CPD during the registration period – 2 December 2019 to 30 November 2020 – and the regulator will treat cases of social workers not recording anything as an issue of registration.

Social Work England, which will take over responsibility for regulating practitioners in England from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) on 2 December, said that “we may choose to remove them from the register or set conditions on their registration” in such cases.

Social Work England said it would communicate regularly with practitioners about CPD during the year and send reminders about completing CPD requirements before the first renewal period opens, on 1 September 2020. If personal circumstances mean that a person is unable to record a piece of evidence during the year, Social Work England said they should contact the regulator to discuss options for maintaining their registration.

Shift from HCPC

The approach marks a shift from that undertaken by the HCPC, under which practitioners are required to meet CPD standards, but, in the vast majority of cases, must simply declare that they have done so, at the point of renewal. Only the 2.5% selected at random for audit must submit a written profile to demonstrate how they have met the CPD standards.

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However, though practitioners will be required to meet Social Work England’s eight CPD standards (see box, below) they will not be judged on whether their CPD is of “sufficient quality”. As under HCPC, practitioners must declare that they have met the standards, with the same percentage of registrants selected as now at random to have their CPD evaluated, which will involve the regulator examining the content of their online accounts and confirming they have made valid CPD entries.

Within the online account, social workers will be able to record CPD flexibly, said Social Work England, through the provision of structured and free-text templates and by enabling practitioners to upload CPD through different types of file.

CPD standards

  • Incorporate feedback from a range of sources, including from people with lived experience of my social work practice.
  • Use supervision and feedback to critically reflect on, and identify my learning needs, including how I use research and evidence to inform my practice.
  • Keep my practice up to date and record how I use research, theories and frameworks to inform my practice and my professional judgement.
  • Demonstrate good subject knowledge on key aspects of social work practice and develop knowledge of current issues in society and social policies impacting on social work.
  • Contribute to an open and creative learning culture in the workplace to discuss, reflect on and share best practice.
  • Reflect on my learning activities and evidence what impact continuing professional development has on the quality of my practice.
  • Record my learning and reflection on a regular basis and in accordance with Social Work England’s guidance on continuing professional development.
  • Reflect on my own values and challenge the impact they have on my practice.

‘Breaking new ground’

Social Work England said its use of online accounts for recording CPD was “breaking new ground”, and was based on feedback from practitioners, academics and other regulators.

“These features have been encouraged by the social workers we spoke to who looked forward to recording their learning as they go, in flexible formats and having a dedicated space for reflection, as well as standards and guidance to support their learning activities,” it said.

Social Work England said it would use the first year to learn about how social workers were doing CPD, while embedding its CPD standards. It would then carry out a review to inform how the process worked in future years to ensure that CPD raised standards of practice.

The consultation, which is open until 17 October, asks social workers and other interested parties to what extent they approve of the regulator’s approach to CPD and what should be considered when developing a process for evaluating the quality of CPD.

Social workers can respond to the CPD consultation by completing a survey, or via email to

Registration guidance

Practitioners will also be asked to apply for registration with Social Work England through an online account, to which they can upload required documents, such as their qualifying certificate, though if they cannot do so they can send these certified copies of the documents to the regulator.

The proposal was set out in three separate guidance documents on the requirements and processes for registration for applicants from the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and from overseas, respectively. Like the CPD consultation, these were also published earlier this month.

The guidance documents are based on registration rules approved last month. They include information on when to pay fees, disclosing health conditions, convictions, cautions and fitness to practise history, and applying when your qualification is more than five years old and you have not been practising as a social worker.

The guidance documents for applicants from the EEA and Switzerland, and from overseas, set out how applicants must demonstrate they have sufficient knowledge of English to practise as a social worker in England.

Social Work England is asking for feedback on the guidance, which should be sent to,

Social Work England will be setting out its approach to regulation in a session at this year’s Community Care Live, which takes place on 15-16 October in London. This is one of over 30 free sessions providing social workers with critical learning for their practice at their event. You can also reserve a place at one of our eight paid-for legal sessions. Register now to ensure you don’t miss out. 

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18 Responses to Social workers risk removal for failing to record CPD in new online accounts

  1. A Man Called Horse August 28, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

    The fear of God must be put into Social Work. Why not apply Benefit style sanctions for failing to upload quickly enough?
    Why not issue a statement like Pritti Patel, that they want Social Workers too be terrified of the SWE? Let them know you are coming after their jobs with gusto and vengence. Failure to comply and you will be joining the food banks for your troubles. You need to understand while your employer employs you we can make you unemployable.
    You will comply
    exterminate, exterminate.

    • Anniemae August 29, 2019 at 5:39 am #


    • Pigged off September 1, 2019 at 11:42 am #

      Yes, totally agree.

      It seems to me that the government (HMG) and bodies such as SWE are paranoid about social workers and feel that we must be tightly controlled.

      Why do we need to upload qualifying certificates? Does SWE/HMG think that employers be that Local Authorities / NHS and even employment agencies do not already demand that we are qualified?

      Last time I looked, upon qualifying many many moons ago, I was judged and assessed as being fit to practice. That should be taken as the base line. Why then the constant push to constantly improve via CPD/PQTL activities? Surely providing I keep up to date with things like legislation and policies and maintain that base line I will continue to be fit to practice. Improving my standards should be something I do by choice not by compulsion.

      And how much is all this extra regulation going to cost? I would not be surprised in any degree to see the registration fee increase yet again.

      Wish somebody would regulate HMG / politicians like this. They might then realise that enforced regulation will never prevent the undesirable and tragic SUI’s from occuring. Rather, seems to me that its more the actions of incompetent medling MP’s that caused the circumstances that lead to the SUI’s that then lead to the imposition of dictatorial bodies to impose (at our cost) this requirement to constantly improve practice.

      And given that we are required to constantly develop our practice, who’s going to pay for it? LA’s and the NHS are cash strapped – thanks to HMG’s policies and I am pig sick of – if I want PQTL to have any real prospect of improving my practice – having to fund ‘quality’ training / learning activities myself.

      Just saying!

      • jim September 2, 2019 at 10:56 am #

        Absolutely spot on! When I entered the profession the ‘gold’ standard to prove that you had met the core requisite knowledge and skills to practice was the CQSW/Diploma [a bonus if you had the MSW], however now you have to prove every year you are up to standard, which is taking up time and effort which could be spent doing the actual job, working directly with clients [now ”service users”!]

        Are we producing more competent higher quality professionals since CPD came in? I don’t think so, if anything the opposite!

        The employers used to have the responsibility to ensure their post qualified social workers went on various mandatory and optional training courses and got regualr supervision. This was enough to ensure compliance with standards and if for any reason a social worker was not competent or unprofessional the employer dealt with that. Now all the burden of ensuring competence has been loaded onto the worker giving the employer some opt out. And no extra time has been given to allow for the extra time haviing to trawl through CPD and create a portfolio of ”evidence”

        Those of us who have been in the job of social work a long time know that there are those workers who can go to all the courses going and set out on paper the most wonderful evidence for competence to fool the CPD audits, but in reality they could struggle to work under pressure or to handle challenging cases, [no amout of CPD is going to change this] Why do CPD audits not front load credits for experience?

        This CPD nonsense will drive some good workers out of the profession. I am glad I will be retiring in just over a year as doing CPDs is extremely tedious and pointless

  2. sw August 28, 2019 at 5:57 pm #

    To ensure that the above can be implemented, social care will need to have managers who are competent.
    At least that might assist in making it a credible profession.

    • Catherine Moody August 28, 2019 at 9:07 pm #

      It depends on the definition of competence. If there is a fight for resources no amount of competence is enough.

  3. Bob August 28, 2019 at 9:35 pm #

    good social workers do this, good managers encourage it. Unfortunately a lot of managers no longer see the value in this kind of developed practice as they go off short term performance figures. Rather than good quality practice and decision making based on best evidence, research and considered interventions. Which can make long term and life changing impacts to the people who matter most. Service users.

    This completely makes sense to me, as long as practitioners are fully supported and given time.

    • John Gatling August 30, 2019 at 9:37 am #

      very much agree

    • Pigged off September 1, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

      Its because of the things you say Bob that the imposition of SWE’s intentions make absolutely no sense to me in any shape or form. Good social workers already exceed the reqirements – when their employers allow them to.

      Good managers – a very limited breed indeed – encorage and promote this.

      Regulation of the type specified does not take into account experience, good practice or sound informed decission making. It risks turning quality practitioners into bureaucrats, unable to actually make a positive difference through direct interventions because of the mulitiple levels of administrative tasks that must be done – of which this is just one more – so that HMG can have its figures and keep a tight rein on those nasty incompetent social workers!

  4. Richard Wilkins August 28, 2019 at 9:38 pm #

    I find the CPD standards 10 puzzling. For if I hold my values to be true, then to challenge my own values is to hold they are not true. That would for instance considering not applying the values I previously held to be true in my daily practice. So, if for instance I value kindness and cease being kind how do assess the difference? And does the difference make a better outcome in working with the client? How would I know?

  5. Paul August 29, 2019 at 2:50 am #

    I would love to see an employer who encourages good quality cpd unfortunately it’s all e learning and short day courses because they don’t have the funds to provide quality certified courses. This is just a way to make social work like teaching where we are all taken through capability and sacked to make way for new cheeper staff

    • Pigged off September 1, 2019 at 12:12 pm #

      Yes. Total agreement from me.

  6. AS August 29, 2019 at 8:27 am #

    Well said SW!!!

  7. SWard August 30, 2019 at 2:03 pm #

    Why would we need to provide a DOB . Is this not ageist. Also why are we having to record what are gender identity is ? What has this got to do with our professional practice ?

  8. Berni September 1, 2019 at 3:09 pm #

    After a busy week working more hours than I ever get paid for I have spent my entire Sunday doing CPD.

    I have and do take regular time out to keep and develop my practice but struggle for time and yes its often done in my free time.

    I think we all have to continue to develop and CPD is a good way of doing this but I agree with the points made above .

    What are Sw England trying to do finish off the rest of the workforce so we can turn off the lights and forget about SW .

    I am thinking that the cuts just are not that effective in reducing whats left of the work force !

  9. Sallie Johnson-Land September 2, 2019 at 10:20 am #

    I have 2 long term health conditions, managed by medication and sometimes, hospital admission – when I am off sick.

    “To confirm that they do not have a continuing or episodic physical or mental health
    condition which, although in remission at the time of the application for registration, may
    be expected to cause a recurrence that may impair their fitness to practise as a social
    worker or, if not the case, provide details of any such physical or mental health condition”

    This does feel a discriminatory – Is it just me?

    • Disenchanted 1 September 5, 2019 at 3:11 am #

      It is discriminatory ! SWE should reflect upon the principles and legislation contained in the Equalities Act 2010.

      It is clear that SWE intends to act oppressively to force hard-pressed practitioners to comply with unrealistic practice standards with of course no reference or regard for practitioners welfare , well-being or safety issues caused by inadequate management/supervision and severe resource restriction and high caseload demands.

      Same old xxxx, just different name

  10. Lauren September 6, 2019 at 11:18 pm #

    I’m a social worker currently seconded full time to UNISON as a convener. I don’t have access to CPD however could be sent back to a Social Work role if someone stands against my secondment and is elected. This is very worrying