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.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org,
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.