Social Work England confirms online CPD system as it takes over regulation of profession

Practitioners will have to submit some CPD every year or risk having conditions placed on their registration or even face removal

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Social Work England has confirmed changes to how practitioners must record their continuing professional development (CPD) as it takes over regulation of the profession today.

As set out in consultative plans issued in August, the new regulator will require all social workers to record at least some CPD in new online accounts at the point of renewal next year, under the system of annual registration that Social Work England has brought in.

Social workers will not be able to defer their CPD during the registration period – 2 December 2019 to 30 November 2020. The regulator will give practitioners who do not submit any CPD during the registration period a further 21 days to record some. If this does not happen, it will take action ranging from placing a condition on the practitioner’s registration requiring them to provide CPD evidence by a set date or, as a last resort, removing them from the register.

The regulator said it would communicate regularly with practitioners 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 approach

Social Work England’s approach marks a shift from that undertaken by outgoing regulator, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), under which practitioners were required to meet CPD standards but, in the vast majority of cases, simply had to declare that they had done so, at the point of renewal. Only the 2.5% selected at random for audit had to submit a written profile to demonstrate how they had met the CPD standards.

However, though practitioners will be required to meet Social Work England’s eight CPD standards (see box, below) they will not be judged on the quality of their CPD.

Instead, the regulator will check whether the CPD recorded shows how the learning impacted on the registrant’s practice. 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 assessed.

This group will not be asked to provide any additional CPD but will instead have the entries they record in their account during the registration year examined, resulting in their CPD being ‘accepted’ or requiring ‘further assessment’. Those in the second category will need to provide further information on their submitted evidence and potentially face conditions on their registration, or even removal, if they are deemed not to have met the registration standard.

Within the online account, social workers will have two options for recording their CPD, a structured and an unstructured form. Both ask the registrants to provide information on what they did, a reflection on how it has impacted on their practice and which of the CPD standards they feel that the learning has met; but the structured form provides questions to guide registrants through the process. Anyone who feels they would not be able to submit their CPD online should get in touch with Social Work England.

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 judgment.
  • 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.

Responding to feedback

Social Work England has changed the language around its CPD requirements after receiving concerns during the consultation that its requirement for registrants to record “at least one piece of evidence” may be misinterpreted as only having to record one piece. The finalised guidance instead refers to Social Work England checking at the point of renewal whether registrants have “recorded any CPD during the preceding registration year”.

The regulator said it wanted to encourage registrants to “regularly record their learning throughout the year”.

It has also changed the wording concerning the process undergone by the 2.5% of registrants whose CPD will be looked at in detail, from ‘evaluation’ to ‘validation’. It was referred to as ‘audit’ by the HCPC.

Calls for better employer support

Social workers who responded to the consultation raised the issue of having the time, support and opportunity to undertake CPD. Social Work England said it was asking employers to “familiarise themselves with the regulatory CPD requirements for social workers”.

Employers were also encouraged to “foster a learning culture where social workers are supported to carry out their CPD duties by allowing them adequate time and opportunities to do so”.

In its consultation response, Social Work England said it was important to acknowledge that CPD includes a range of activities and does not just involve social workers attending training courses.

“We will not give direction or advice on what CPD a social worker should undertake, but we do encourage social workers to think creatively about learning opportunities and the learning they’re already doing in their role,” the regulator said.

Logging your CPD on Community Care Inform

If you have a licence for Community Care Inform Children or Inform Adults, you can use the ‘CPD log’ function to quickly and easily record learning gained from reading Inform articles or using our group learning activities, podcasts and videos.

Clicking ‘Add to my CPD log’ on any article generates a form with question prompts that match Social Work England’s requirements for what needs to be recorded. You can export your CPD log at any point as a Word document that can be uploaded to your Social Work England account.

You can also use the CPD log to record learning from other sources, ‘on the job’ experiences and training.

Read more here on Inform Children or here on Inform Adults.

Not sure if you have access to Community Care Inform through your organisation or have other questions? Find help here.

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6 Responses to Social Work England confirms online CPD system as it takes over regulation of profession

  1. Louisa December 3, 2019 at 8:50 pm #

    I have just looked at the new CPD guidance and am so angry! I am fortunate enough to work for a great authority and have a great manager! As part of this I am expected to give feedback on training on the day I do it via a sheet which includes how it will impact upon my daily work etc. Next I am expected to give my manager some feedback over the next few weeks to be included in our team feedback about how said training has impacted upon my work etc and now I am going to need to record it again for my registration!!??? So great, 3 recordings of the same training in 3 different places, how is that helping anyone, especially my service users?? Our job is about our integrity, ethics and values which I hold dear, but it appears we cannot be trusted to be competent social workers!!! My first thought was “I need to find a different job” I wonder how many other social workers felt the same!

  2. Jen December 4, 2019 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi Louisa, I agree with you to a certain extent. However, evidence of CPD learning is not just a log of training events. I agree, when we have attended a course, there is an expectation to provide feedback to the facilitator and to the wider team. I guess our log on the Social Work England account is more reflective and to evidence we are meeting correct standards to maintain our registration. There is an option to upload evidence – if you feedback to the team about a training event, you could upload the team meeting minutes (anonymised) as evidence that you are facilitating the learning of others?

    On a different note, has anyone attempted to upload a structured or unstructured CPD entry on the online account? It doesn’t appear to be working correctly. I have emailed Social Work England about this and hope they fix this error soon.

    • Alex December 9, 2019 at 2:25 pm #

      Hi Jen, I agree with Louisa as well when it comes to feedback on training events. However I agree with you that the online recording system is not as bad as expected. The questions are all optional, you simply need to evidence each standard at least once over the course of the year and don’t have to meet them all in one go. I have recorded one entry so far using the structured form and it was straight forward. No glitches either, so it may be an isolated issue? I do feel there is an expectation practitioners will be entering logs regularly, but in the current climate it just is not feasible. Our team are exploring the idea of adding it to supervision agenda’s and IPR meetings so that time is set aside to complete CRL. Perhaps it may be worth discussing in your teams?

  3. Fiona Lassen December 5, 2019 at 9:24 am #

    I think the extra stress that this will put on an already under resourced and under supported and overworked workforce’s will only produce a negative outcome with many social workers just giving up . The problem is not that we have bad social workers who are not fit for purpose the problem that exists and is not being addressed it poor management far too high workloads and a social structure that does not support the vulnerable in ways that really meet the vast need that exists. Thank God I m retiring, after 30 years I’m completely disappointed in the lack of support that the social work profession gets

  4. Tired December 10, 2019 at 4:08 pm #

    Four years qualified in a job I love – that is now undergoing restructure – busy workload, and a personal and family life to manage: I’m thinking of a career change. This is extra pressure on already pressured professionals, where our managers are under pressure to improve their stats, so we now have increased pressure to improve our throughput. Pressure, pressure, pressure!!! Will employers allow us time to keep our CPD up-to-date? Will our lead practitioner offer support and guidance with this or will we be left to get on with it?

    I love social care and I want to remain in it but I’m now thinking I’d get more job satisfaction with a more service-user led job on the frontline rather than being a social worker mired in bureaucracy and paperwork.

  5. Weighted down December 17, 2019 at 2:56 pm #

    I have no issue with recording my CPD but unfortunately I am managed by a lazy and clueless OT and senior management are too bust legacy building and fluffing up their c.v.’s to care what is going on, on the ground. I have looked at the CPD guidance and wonder just how exactly Social Work England is going to rake me over the coals when I state that I am unable to document how management/line management has assisted. I will have an answer but I am sure somehow it will be my fault. I think I do enough to carry my line management and ensure my practice is the best that it can be but with added pressure to account for their lack of input I wonder who will be blamed.