By Sarah Blackmore and Philip Hallam, Social Work England
Following the recent Community Care article ‘Social Work England: 18% of social workers have recorded CPD, four months out from deadline’, a number of comments and questions were posted by social workers about recording continuing professional development.
In this article, we have responded to the most frequent comments made.
On why social workers are having to record CPD at an unprecedented and busy time
To meet the requirements to renew registration as set out in our legislation, social workers are required to record at least one piece of CPD in their online account before 30 November 2020, and many social workers have already done so.
We understand, however, that as social workers you are responding to Covid-19 amid extra work pressures, concerns for personal health and wellbeing, and family commitments and caring responsibilities. We thank you for all you are doing in challenging circumstances with the skill and flexibility that is so typical of our profession.
You are navigating your way through the pandemic whilst having to consider the ethics and impact of new ways of working for the longer term. This presents a real opportunity to reflect, consider and record individual experiences through CPD. It is a way of reflecting on difficult times for the benefit of social work practice and the millions of people who need social workers’ support.
Prior to Covid-19, there was a steady flow of social workers recording CPD. We are now starting to see the number of social workers recording CPD return to the levels we saw before the outbreak of Covid-19, and we encourage all social workers to regularly record CPD throughout the year.
On the challenges social workers have reported with the website’s user-friendliness and in using their Social Work England online account
The majority of social workers who record CPD in their online account do so without difficulty, however, we are aware that some people are having problems recording CPD in their online account. If you are having issues with our website, or the online account is not working as expected, it may be related to the browser you are using or your browser settings.
Following the steps in our website support section and reading through our online account guide should help you solve any technical problems. The steps on how to record CPD are also highlighted on the ‘how to record CPD’ section of our website.
Following feedback from social workers about their experience using the online account, in August we will be adding the ability to save a draft CPD record, which will remove the risk of timing out after 60 minutes and losing work. Further improvements will also be introduced to provide more on-screen advice and to reduce the chance of loading or crash errors.
On the need for further guidance on recording CPD
To support social workers to understand our requirements around CPD and familiarise themselves with their online account, our regional engagement leads have produced some top tips which can be viewed on our website.
A series of free online sessions for social workers are also scheduled over the summer to help social workers understand how to prepare and record CPD. These are currently in high demand, but we are in the process of adding additional dates so please keep checking our website.
Social workers can also reach out to their local regional engagement lead to set up bespoke sessions for their employers.
On the risk of social workers being removed from the register if they do not record CPD before 30 November
Working with social workers, employers and others with an interest in social work, we’ve developed a new approach to CPD that emphasises personal reflection and the impact that learning has on practice, in order to meet the requirements of our legislation. By undertaking and recording CPD, you demonstrate to us and the public that you uphold the professional standards of the social work profession and continue to remain fit to practise.
We will continue to develop our approach to CPD as we understand more about the ways that social workers are learning.
On response times to enquiries made via phone or email
We are currently experiencing a high volume of enquiries and appreciate that some of you may have had to wait longer than normal. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We are replying to all enquiries as soon as possible and are currently recruiting for some additional temporary staff to help us improve response times during this period.
On whether Social Work England checks and validated submitted CPD
At the point of renewal, we’ll check that all social workers have recorded at least one piece of CPD in their online account. In addition to this, and for us to learn from our first year’s CPD requirements, we will carry out a validation check.
The validation check will see us randomly select 2.5% of social workers. We will let the social workers who have been selected for validation know, and we will look at their records and check whether their CPD is relevant to their social work practice. Once we have completed the validation, we will let those social workers selected for validation know the outcome. Further information can be found in our CPD guidance.
We will also use anonymised CPD data to produce a report that summarises the outcomes of the validation process. We hope this report will inform the public and the profession about how social workers are learning, as well as inform our ongoing approach to CPD.
Sarah Blackmore is executive director of policy, strategy and engagement, and Philip Hallam, executive director of registration, quality assurance and legal, at Social Work England