The government’s accreditation programme will be opened up to practitioners who have recently completed their assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE), the chief social worker for children and families has announced.
In a blog published on Monday afternoon, Isabelle Trowler said the move was in response to feedback from social workers relating to how the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) “fits into a career trajectory”.
The new NAAS pathway will be available initially to practitioners who completed the children’s ASYE in 2017-18 or 2018-19 so long as they are not employed by one of the 56 authorities currently trialling NAAS. They can register from 10 February subject to their employer’s approval, though numbers are limited.
Councils will be funded to take part, with payments made in two installments, when the candidate registers to take part and on completion of the assessment.
‘Stronger learning offer’
In her article, Trowler said the government wanted employers to deliver a “much stronger learning offer” to social workers who had completed their ASYE and were adjusting to full-time practice.
A Department for Education study published last year identified the post-ASYE phase of social workers’ careers as a period during which stress levels peak as practitioners get to grips with the “‘reality’ of the job”.
More on NAAS
“The introduction of the NAAS to ASYE completers across the country provides a continuation of a social worker’s employer-led programme of support,” Trowler said.
“They will work towards taking the accreditation through a learning plan that helps strengthen good practice, increases consistency in skills and knowledge as well as overall experience working in the sector,” she added.
It is not clear what the announcement means for the government’s plan to roll out NAAS in spring 2020 pending evalaution of the pilots to date.
Social workers who have undergone the accreditation process and spoken with Community Care have been cautiously positive but some have questioned its purpose, beyond providing a useful confirmation that they know how to do their jobs.
Some councils have paid employees significant sums to participate in accreditation, which tests their practice against the government’s post-qualifying standards (PQS), known as the knowledge and skills statements (KSS).
Late in 2019, a £3.1m contract extension was granted to consultancy firm Mott Macdonald to coordinate NAAS until March and in the process accredit 800 to 1,950 social workers under the scheme’s second phase.
But the contract also revealed that national implementation could be delayed by up to six months because of “wider strategic and sector challenges”.
At the time, Claudia Megele, the chair of the Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PCFSW) network, warned that local authorities’ approaches to NAAS were highly divergent, with not all integrating it into career progression.
In her blog post, Trowler said social workers signing up to the new pilot would “benefit from a tailored training and development plan aligned to the PQS and receive regular feedback to help you grow your capabilities”.
Further information regarding the new ASYE pathway can be found on the Skills for Care website.