Social work accreditation moves to new phase despite pandemic halting assessments

Twelve new authorities in 'under-represented' regions join government's national assessment and accreditation programme (NAAS) programme for children's social workers

Photo: andreabzerova/Fotolia

The government’s accreditation programme for children’s social workers has been expanded despite the coronavirus lockdown halting assessment activities.

A letter published by the Department for Education (DfE) revealed that 12 new local authorities had joined the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) programme, taking the total number of participants to 68.

The group of councils are not part of the existing first two NAAS phases, which have resulted in more than 1,600 practitioners being assessed, through which the the progress of the scheme will be evaluated and the DfE will take a decision on its wider roll-out.

Some of the new councils are in the process of improving services in the wake of unfavourable Ofsted judgments. A source at one said adopting the NAAS would assist in benchmarking social work practice.

A statement provided by the DfE said that the new participating authorities had been invited to join the scheme in order to expand its reach in “under-represented” areas such as the South West and Merseyside.

‘Background mode’

The DfE said that at present NAAS was running in “background mode”, with all assessment centres closed since 17 March due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Its statement added that the £1.9m cost of grants released to the councils had been included in a figure of £24m for the total cost of NAAS to date, which the children’s minister Vicky Ford recently released.


While the new letter does not explicitly say how many social workers are expected to undertake the NAAS, as has been the case in previous documents, sources told Community Care that targets of 20% of the workforce within a year had been set.

That figure mirrors expectations placed on councils in earlier phases – though the figures released by Ford revealed that actual take-up around the country has been highly variable.

Some councils have offered incentives to social workers in order to take part in accreditation – which recent freedom of information requests by independent social worker Simon Cardy revealed to be up to £400.

As in previous round, the new grants for authorities include £10,000 earmarked “to champion the ongoing research and evaluation of the programme, which is being used to inform and develop the NAAS as it rolls out”.

Practitioners in some boroughs have also told Community Care that the DfE’s research partner, Kantar, has struggled to persuade social workers to participate in evaluating their NAAS experience once accreditation is over.

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2 Responses to Social work accreditation moves to new phase despite pandemic halting assessments

  1. Bernard Burrell May 5, 2020 at 4:42 pm #

    It is a positive step to read in Community Care that at least 68 local authorities children services have signed up to the NAAS professional accreditation and improvement initiative.

    The time is long overdue for social work practitioners to have a nationally recognised body that monitor and oversee the development of uniform professional standards in children and other areas of social work.

    The time is also long overdue for all social work practitioners to demonstrate and verify their professional competence every 3 years for example…in the same way no social care employer would employ an applicant without an updated DBS or validated employment reference.

    The NAAS accreditation professional competency will hopefully over time, help to weed out the poor practitioners that tend to move from agencies to agencies….. and give the social work profession the level of credibility to has crave for years. The medical professionals for example have manage to achieve such a professional status and credibility in the eyes of the public.

  2. Rosaline May 16, 2020 at 8:16 pm #

    I completed the NAAS successfully and it was a positive experience. It is important we have strong, competent, knowledgeable and professionally confident professionals helping and supporting children and their families to have improved outcomes