Social Work England proposes doubling annual CPD recording requirement

Requirement would increase from one to two pieces a year, as condition of renewing registration, despite most practitioners reporting a lack of time to complete learning

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Story updated 24 May

Social Work England has proposed doubling the annual requirement for recording continuing professional development (CPD) for practitioners seeking to renew their registration.

The proposal – included in a consultation on reforming CPD for the December 2021 to December 2022 registration year – comes despite research for the regulator finding that 60% of practitioners lacked time during working hours for learning and development.

In addition, Social Work England faced significant challenges in ensuring practitioners submited one piece of CPD during its first registration renewal period last year, with only a last-minute rush preventing large numbers of social workers being removed for non-submission. The requirement for the current (2020-21) registration year remains the submission of one piece of CPD to social workers’ online accounts with the regulator.

The consultative proposals are based on workshops carried out with social workers and research by YouGov on practitioners’ attitudes to CPD, also published yesterday.

Support for ‘small increase’ in CPD requirement

The regulator said the workshops uncovered support for a “small increase in the amount of CPD required”.

While one piece would be at the social worker’s discretion, the second would be on a broad theme determined by Social Work England – for example, improving communication, understanding legislation or having a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion. This responds to feedback that social workers wanted more direction on the CPD they submit.

Its other proposed reforms include:

  • Replacing the current structured and unstructured online forms for recording CPD with a single, shortened form, in response to feedback that social workers wanted a simplified way of recording their CPD.
  • Requiring social workers to confirm they have spoken with a manager or peer about how the piece of CPD has impacted on their learning, following feedback that practitioners should engage in peer discussions of their CPD.
  • Changing the way that a fraction (2.5%) of social workers have their CPD validated, moving from purely random sampling of the whole register to random sampling of particular groups of practitioners, for example those in a particular region or of a particular level of experience. This would be to enable the regulator to respond to issues raised in its regulatory activity.
  • Where social workers subject to validation are given advice on their CPD – if the learning is deemed not relevant or the submission lacks a clear description of the impact on practice – they would be required to submit a fresh piece of CPD within two months, which would then be assessed. If this were accepted, no further action would be taken. If it were not, they would either be subject to validation again the following year following renewal of their registration, or their CPD would be assessed prior to renewal. In the latter case, if their CPD was not accepted, their subsequent registration may be conditional on meeting further CPD requirements.

CPD ‘more than just training’

In the latest registration renewal round, 96% of the 2,205 social workers whose CPD was validated had it accepted by the 10 independent assessors responsible for evaluating their submissions, five of whom were social workers.

The remaining 89 social workers were given advice and will automatically have their CPD validated following renewal in December.

Social Work England said that the feedback from the assessors included the importance of demonstrating the impact of CPD on practice, that submissions need not be excessively long – with 300-80o words recommended, -attachments should only be included when they add value and that CPD was more than just formal training.

Give practitioners extra time, employers urged

The YouGov research found that social workers backed the regulator engaging with employers so that they set aside time for practitioners to do CPD, a view echoed by Social Workers Union general secretary John McGowan in response to the consultation.

“Ongoing professional development is so vital for social workers throughout their careers, which is why employers will need to recognise these extra requirements and provide suitable opportunities for learning,” he said.

“The sector has been under immense caseloads and work pressure, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Therefore, we would urge social work leaders to give practitioners additional time to complete additional CPD during the current period and to strike a balance in the future between development and workload.”

The consultation runs until 11 August.

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32 Responses to Social Work England proposes doubling annual CPD recording requirement

  1. Not My Real Name May 21, 2021 at 2:55 pm #

    The only Social Worker I know who’s had any CPD in the last year other than attending free webinars or just ‘reflecting on your caseload’ paid for it herself.

    Now CPD really is a good idea, but just increasing the amount of recording doesn’t increase the amount of CPD. Instead it will just be more meaningless drivel where you pretend attending a course on basic data security is going to dramatically improve your practice.

  2. Keith May 21, 2021 at 2:56 pm #

    Are SWE going to come and do some of our casework to give us the time to do what they dictate?

  3. Captain Fog May 21, 2021 at 3:54 pm #

    It would help if a majority of people on the board were actually social workers themselves. Most don’t have a clue in my opinion and are only on the board because of who they know. I am now in a job that doesn’t require my to maintain my registration so will probably just stop registering. I have ongoing concerns about SW England and their general competence and could do without throwing my money to pay for others nice expenses packages.

    • Angela Warren May 23, 2021 at 2:26 pm #

      Agreed. I’d like to know exactly what benefits I might find available to me for this hefty registration fee that we HAVE to pay.

    • Wolf nut May 24, 2021 at 4:27 pm #

      Well said . When I think of SWE. I’m reminded of the Monty Python film ‘The Life of Brian’ and ‘What have the Romans ever done for us’ . Whereas a list of things was then mentioned , I think with SWE there would be silence. I pay my registration for what exactly?

  4. Thomas Hughes May 21, 2021 at 9:07 pm #

    Ludicrous. Nobody on the board has ever actually been a Social Worker. It seems to me the boards are made up of people who were either not much good in their own professions or looking for an easy way out before retirement.

  5. Claire May 21, 2021 at 11:14 pm #

    Will applaud and endorse if SWE also puts pressure on our employers to take CPD seriously. Our manager would not give us protected time to write our reflections and upload them. Her reason? You don’t need to spend time on what I did on my holidays stories they are not going to read anyway. Still raising standards and protecting the public SWE?

  6. All In It Together May 22, 2021 at 4:16 am #

    And naturally as night follows day……with the doubling of CPD recording will follow the doubling of the registration fee. Instead…..why not maintain the recording and reduce the reg. Fees.

  7. julia May 22, 2021 at 8:56 am #

    I would rather it was down to our employers to audit the training of social workers and to ensure they were being offered a good level of training in house. I resent having to pay a yearly contribution to a group of bureaucrats, who have likely never heard of a food bank, or spoken to a child in a home without access to the internet.

    • Angela Warren May 23, 2021 at 2:28 pm #

      here here

    • Brenda May 27, 2021 at 9:02 am #

      Great idea

  8. Carol May 22, 2021 at 8:35 pm #

    Didn’t they commission a training consultant to tell us how to reframe an episode of Coronation Street as reflective learning and upload as CPD? Your manager isn’t far wrong is she Claire? I believe in CPD, I beleive in accountability, I believe in rigorous oversight of our practice. SWE aren’t capable of any of this. When will we hear about the 2.5% of the CPD they scrutinised and how many social workers, if any, failed to meet the unspecified standard?

  9. Helen May 23, 2021 at 12:42 am #

    In the meantime can SWE take those of us who on our retirement informed them that we wished to be removed from the register have our names taken off please. Nearly two years since retiring I appear as “failed to register.” What’s so hard about accepting we no longer work as social workers? I have zero interest in practicing ever again in my case. Unless of course there is an undeclared interest in SWE counting us in?

  10. SW May 24, 2021 at 1:12 pm #

    Not in agreement with this at all, CPD was pushed last year despite the increased pressures on SW’s in light of the pandemic whilst having to juggle family commitments. It is just another process for process sake, an idea would be for SWE to ensure LA SW are actually being paid a wage that the reflects the work and commitment that is done. If agency was not an option I would have left the profession years ago.

  11. Lucinda Juliet Walker May 24, 2021 at 2:45 pm #

    And so it begins……..again! Whilst I agree to continuous new learning, I struggled to evidence it during the pandemic, even now. What planet are these ‘wanna be Social Workers’ on? What about OUR mental health during the pandemic? We’ve all gone into work donned up, going into families and experiencing the trauma of those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. I too have experienced two immediate family members dying from Covid.
    For goodness sake, can we all recuperate first before we have to evidence double the CPD. Let’s hope we get a pay rise to off- set the doubling of our fees!! Lol

  12. A Man Called Horse May 24, 2021 at 5:43 pm #

    CPD is what we have always done through our internal training systems and that generally is what we had for most of my career in Social Work, then along came a vicious Tory Government with an axe to grind about Social Workers. The plan was to implement Tory training and get Social Workers to become more conservative. Rightly they believed that most Social Workers with a social conscience hated them for throwing the poor and disadvantaged to the wolves with benefit cuts, austerity and for generally just doing what Tories do. CPD gets you dancing to their tune and their agenda, step out of line and you are out of your job. CPD is about power and control via Social Work England. Generally you are just not considered good enough at your job and because of that you need someone to Police you and get you fearful for your own job. Social Work first was a Tory front and its chief executive appointed by them wants to increase the role of the private sector and undermine you as a Social Worker. Social Work England has your number and its coming for you.

    • theresa boyce May 28, 2021 at 10:57 am #


  13. Arthur Dent May 25, 2021 at 11:24 am #

    You pay your fees so the bureaucrats and BASW can pretend they strain every sinew to stand tall as professionals that uphold ethics and protect the public Wolf nut. You see, social workers are not trustworthy and are incompetent to boot. They need telling what to do and how to do it. We pay so SWE and their sidekicks can point out our failures and make our practice safe. Dangerous thing a thinking social worker better to regulated them to “reflect”. Arbitrary standards of mediocrity enforced by pretend CPD to suppress questioning and autonomy. Well worth £90.

    • theresa boyce May 28, 2021 at 10:58 am #


  14. Burns May 25, 2021 at 12:07 pm #

    I wonder why we/SWE does not approach employers and ask that CPD is done and time given to do it and regulate that activity to build accountability and genuine support for those working in an ever increasingly complex job.

    It may also help if SWE ask employers to identify via supervision CPD that will be useful not just for the people using a service but also the SW and indeed the employer by improved quality and ask employers to co support and record and take some pressure off . This may also help if an authority is struggling in identified areas .

    The problem is that as people have noted services are beyond stretched , managers do not give CPD any priority ( Sorry some do ) and so its pushed back onto the SW .

    It mostly feels punitive rather than a healthy development and with little or no training worth a salt its just not right never mind fair .

    Who is fighting the SW , corner none it seems . Its just for the sake of and I do feel SWE needs to get off its expensive pedestal and get onto the team floors around this country and open its eyes and ears . Ludicrous !

  15. Alan May 26, 2021 at 12:33 pm #

    CPD is just a meaningless catch phrase in social work. Get it out the way to keep your registration as my supervisor was urging me as he allocated me two more cases. We used to have a thing called training, with training teams and funding to attend long courses and conferences. Younger colleagues think I am unhinged when I say this. E-learning with no discussions or being challenged is not training. Social work must be the only profession where reading a text book stops on graduation and reflections on personal experiences are deemed sufficient to develop expertise.

  16. Richard May 26, 2021 at 3:09 pm #

    CPD is a meaningless activity while it just involves uploading any old guff to an arbitrary timescale. Still waiting to be told the outcome of the 2.5% of uploads. Surely we should be told the percentage that met the ‘standard’ and how they did this, numbers who didn’t and the reasons and what percentage are being asked to re-submit. Isn’t that the way to raise standards? Transparency was my reflected upload ironically.

  17. Julie May 26, 2021 at 9:04 pm #

    I feel that this is going to be the final thing that really makes me decide to leave my social work career. Along with little recognition from central government as a social worker, regularly working 60 hours a week with no time to be able take time owed back. Unrealistic caseloads and yet l am required to do this to evidence my CPD on top of the exhausting hours l work. Emotionally it is just too much to manage and there is no work/family life balance at all. I came into social work 15 years ago to help others, yet this has been to the detriment of my own family- l have missed out on so many important things for my children due to late night report writing, emergency working and spent many weekends catching up on recordings etc. Where is the time going to come from to do this additional work!

  18. Helen May 27, 2021 at 12:57 pm #

    CPD isn’t about training, it is about us learning. For SWE though learning is meeting their “Professional Standards.” That isn’t learning, it is conforming to bureaucratic expectations. If I was to upload a critical reflection through the prism of Raymond Williams’ essay “The Idea of Culture” reframed as the ‘Idea of Social Work, it would no doubt be brilliantly argued but so it seems was a riff on supermarket self-serve checkouts as a metaphor for power dynamics in safeguarding. Which is what I did uploaded. If SWE are after originality we are It. Not sure how that translates to knowledge that skills us to perform competently and grow as social workers however.

  19. Nikki May 27, 2021 at 2:02 pm #

    Frankly £90 a year for the privileges of having our names on a public register, a Social Work Week, a website with pretty pictures, twitter page that’s democratic, the occasional blog, Board members who give their all to promote our interests, transparency at all levels of the organisation, ensuring high academic standards in teaching institutions, militant commitment to anti -racist, anti-oppressive processes and outcomes is a small price to pay. Then I woke up.

  20. Mr Li May 27, 2021 at 2:25 pm #

    here we go again – i thought social England was a body of people that understands the pressures SW are under. it seems maybe they are out of touch of what its like to be a SW and what a case load looks like.

    I thought i would be paying for a service that will protect SW and be more understanding – NOT.

    Its clear that, you are now becoming a service for the government and rather than SW. Over working us – over reacting – over regulating – just over the top. Nurses, doctors, police and others don’t get such scrutiny.

    Please give us back to HCPC – although no one cared for us – at list we where happy and got on with our work.

    what do you want from us – burnt out – reduce the amount of SW – what do you want????

    If you are bored – please come and join us in the field and stop making changes for the sake of having your presents felt.

  21. peter griffiths June 1, 2021 at 10:05 pm #

    I completed CPD to remain on the register. I have not practised for 5 years due to being an informal carer. They recommended my CPD is based on a role of a carer and how knowledge of social work practice can be applied to this role. My best piece of work was reserved to describe how care homes were abandoned by the government during the pandemic and the failure of the Ministers to recognise DOLS in relation to care home residents being forced to remain in their institutions without access to the outside or seeing family members. DOLS, neglect, increasing MH -all wilfully ignored by this government and leading SW organisations. At no stage did Social Work England challenge Ministers or submit articles to peer led journals outlining the disgraceful treatment of vulnerable persons in supported care . SWs battled through this crisis and their reward-a pay freeze. Clearly SW England are the puppets of this government and have an objective to dismantle the SW profession . Agency work, pay cuts, cuts to services, increased case-loads, SWs quitting all happening under the Tory government. Is help and support available? No-SW England are punishing us hard working SWs by expecting we complete more CPD. What happened to BASW ? They remind me of a mirage in the desert. You can see it in the distance but when you arrive it does not exist.

  22. Carol Rowbotham June 1, 2021 at 10:42 pm #

    Apparently CPD is about accountability and protecting the public. Funny old process that can’t even tell us how our personally defined reflections, most of which aren’t even scrutinised, translate to better skills and safer practice. Those of you who think you are participating in a rigorous and objectively meaningful process should really ask SWE what the outcome of the 2.5% of the uploads they have sampled is. All good, some not so good, some required resubmission, some worryingly poor? Numbers for each? That is the only way to have confidence that this is about better knowledge, accountability and safety. Otherwise it is just essay submissions isn’t it? And that doesn’t really pass the regulation test does it?

  23. Kieran June 2, 2021 at 11:15 am #

    Compromises and collusion. Part of life and inescapable core in social work. Give them what they want, pretend it’s all about our accountability and public protection. Ignore the self defined upholders of standards, the look at me bloggers and the myriad hangers on furiously peddling profession myths. Ignore the inanity of twitter, by pass the podcasts, set your own goals. Be guided by your own integrity. Accept you are a cog driving other peoples careers. Validate fluff, nod your head even as you think this is codswallop, affirm the self important. Know you will never be in the gilded halls of the important. Never publicly doubt and question unless you know what the accepted fad of the hour is. All of this might make you feel a bit tainted but you will be a Registered Social Worker and that’s all that matters isn’t it?

  24. Carlton June 4, 2021 at 10:12 am #

    Dreadful decision. One narrative about what I would have done in my holidays if Covid restrictions had allowed is dispiriting enough. The thought that I have to find another inane topic and pretend it fits with the ‘standards’ is truly demoralising. Second thoughts, I wonder if my bicycle repair manual can be re-framed as a metaphor for working with care experienced young people?

  25. Linda June 6, 2021 at 8:17 pm #

    After 21 years in social work SWE need to understand we have no or little time to do CPD. Do SWE think we are going to be thrilled at their suggestion we do more CPD? We need to learn to work to rule by working the hours we are contracted to do and no more unless we are paid the going overtime rate should we close to work additional hours. This would prevent burnt out etc. Social workers need to protect themselves and BASW should do more to support that.

  26. Hannah R June 7, 2021 at 10:37 am #

    I disagree with a lot of the comments on here. I understand that it’s been a really difficult year but would you be happy to go to a GP when they haven’t refreshed their knowledge for years, or don’t know about latest treatments? As a professional group of people, it is really important that we keep our skills up to date. I appreciate the frustration with SWE and the fees paid to them, I don’t like paying them either but this increase represents 2 hours a year. During the pandemic, the opportunities for webinars and online courses have increased, I mean even reading an article on a lunch break / commute counts as long as it is documented.