Social Work England has removed 256 practitioners from the register for not meeting the final deadline to submit a piece of CPD in order to renew their registration. The regulator said that the low figure – as a proportion of the 97,000 social workers who needed to renew this year – showed that its controversial requirement for practitioners to submit a piece of CPD in order to renew was “straightforward and manageable”.
The regulator has put the whole group, in addition to the 4,590 practitioners removed for not meeting the original 30 November deadline for renewing their registration, onto the temporary register set up to bolster capacity in response to coronavirus, enabling them to continue practising as social workers.
However, it stressed that those wanting to be restored to the main register – enabling them to practise beyond the pandemic – needed to submit a piece of CPD to do so, in addition to paying the £135 restoration fee on top of the £90 registration fee.
Exceptional circumstances rejected
Social Work England rejected requests from eight of the 256 for “exceptional circumstances” to be accepted as a reason for not submitting CPD. No exceptional circumstances requests were accepted.
This is the first time social workers have been required to submit a piece of CPD as a condition of registration renewal, though the content of the CPD will only be assessed in the case of the 2.5% of practitioners whose submissions will be validated. This group will be notified that they will be validated by email on 5 January.
The CPD policy was criticised by some practitioners as a tick-box exercise or an unnecessary burden during a pandemic, while others faced technical difficulties in uploading their submissions onto their Social Work England accounts.
With five days to go until the 30 November renewal deadline, about a quarter of the 97,000 practitioners who needed to renew had not done so, sparking concerns that large swathes of the profession would be removed at a stroke and prompting the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and Social Workers Union to call for an extension to the deadline.
This was rejected by Social Work England, and a last-minute surge saw about 18,000 complete renewal during the final days, with the number removed for not doing so comparable to previous years. That left 1,347 who had completed their renewal application but not submitted any CPD, whom Social Work England gave until 21 December to do so.
Sarah Blackmore, its executive director of strategy, policy and engagement, thanked the “significant majority” of practitioners who had submitted CPD, saying that they had recognised it was “an essential way of keeping their practice up to date and meeting the professional standards”.
She added: “We absolutely appreciate that this has been an extremely tough year for the profession, but the thousands who still made time to submit at least one piece of CPD shows that the new process was straightforward and manageable. As with everything we do, we will be reviewing the process with input from social workers and the sector to consider any improvements we can make.”
Anyone looking to contact Social Work England over the Christmas period should take note of its opening hours.
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