CPD requirement on social workers will double next year, Social Work England confirms

Practitioners will need to submit two pieces of learning and reflect on one of these with a peer for the registration year starting 1 December 2021, regulator decides following 12-week consultation

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Social workers in England will need to submit two pieces of continuing professional development (CPD) to renew their registration from next year, Social Work England confirmed today.

This doubles the requirement of one piece of CPD in place for the current registration renewal round, which began on 1 September and runs until 30 November. The change will come into force for the registration year starting on 1 December 2021, alongside a requirement to reflect on one piece of CPD with a peer and the replacement of the current two forms for recording CPD with a single, simpler form.

Reporting on a 12-week consultation on proposed reforms to CPD today, Social Work England said the plan to increase the renewal requirement to two pieces garnered broad support in an online survey and a series of consultation events.

The 618 respondents gave it an average approval rating of 3.32 out of 5, while most attendees at consultation events, including the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, also backed the plan.

However, the British Association of Social Workers and UNISON disagreed with the plan, on the grounds that it was not the right time to increase requirements because of the pandemic.

Plans to replace the current unstructured and structured forms for recording CPD with a single, simpler form also won broad backing with a score of 3.51, and UNISON supporting the measure.

Mixed response on peer reflection

There was a mixed response to a further proposal to introduce a requirement for social workers to have discussed the impact of their CPD with a manager or peer, with broad support for the principle but opposition to making it mandatory for every piece of recorded learning.

As a result, Social Work England said it would introduce the requirement from 1 December 2021, but only for one of the two required pieces of CPD. For this, social workers will be required to confirm they have discussed the impact of their learning with a manager or peer, with the regulator saying it would publish a list of accepted  professionals who can act as peers.

Social Work England also consulted on setting a theme for one of the two pieces of CPD, which also drew a mixed response. Some respondents said CPD should be specific to the individual, others felt social work was too broad for an applicable theme to be set for all registrants while UNISON warned against the regulator being prescriptive on this point.

In response, Social Work England said it would not set a theme for the December 2021 to November 2022 registration year, but would look to introduce this requirement for 2022-23, following further investigation.

“Delaying this change until December 2022 gives social workers more time to adjust to the changes to the CPD process, and is in line with our promise to take an incremental approach,” it said.

It will also defer proposed changes to the way CPD is reviewed and validated pending further investigation. It had proposed moving from sampling a random 2.5% of the register for review to focusing on a particular group of practitioners, and also requiring those who were given advice following review to submit a fresh piece of CPD within two months.

Though both measures received broad support, Social Work England said it wanted “to take more time to consider the operation, details and impact of these changes before making a decision”.

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31 Responses to CPD requirement on social workers will double next year, Social Work England confirms

  1. Flint September 17, 2021 at 2:39 pm #

    What is the point ? You can write anything as long as it fits the criteria. It should be worked based and relevant to the particular work we do . I think that managers would know if you are not up to a professional standard ? and they would act appropriately. Thank goodness that after 40 years of paying my pension I have the opportunity to leave and sit back and watch this from the comfort of my fishing boat lol

    • Anne-Marie Marshall September 17, 2021 at 8:14 pm #

      Flint. You are in a really fortunate position. I just wish that I could say the same as I would walk away in a heartbeat.

    • Tom Murphy September 20, 2021 at 2:20 pm #

      Enjoy the fishing. I suspect there are many more feeling the same way.. I have a short time and will leave the so called profession?? As a waste of time..

    • Lesley Shepherd September 22, 2021 at 6:23 pm #

      I have 18 months before I retire fully and counting the days! The job is not what I signed up for anymore, it’s pen pushing, not about the people out there. The people we are short changing are our bread and butter but they seem to forget that!
      I am proud of my values and ethics but feel they are not as important anymore, let’s just live on our computers!
      Rant over

      • Andrea September 23, 2021 at 8:04 pm #

        Well said!Social work has changed so much over the years. It’s so process driven and lacks real social work input with families. It’s quite sad really as the families we serve are experiencing a disservice. Roll on my retirement and I really hope you enjoy yours! I must say I’m envious

  2. Dave Hemsley September 17, 2021 at 2:41 pm #

    Do we really need more. Not enough time to see clients now

    • Anne-Marie Marshall September 17, 2021 at 8:25 pm #

      Absolutely. Shortly after the introduction of the care act, I did training where the trainer – who was involved in scrutiny of that act – stated that in development of the care act it was clear that the purpose was to reduce the number of social workers. That didn’t work as planned so it now seems that SWE are doing a follow up job.

      I’m just wondering who the idiots who supposedly agreed to this are. Let’s be candid here, I simply do not believe SWE when they say that they received support from the profession for these changes to CPD.

      Also, at the point we Initially registered, we was all judged as fit to practice. Whilst it is generally a good thing to develop in.practice, this should not be compulsory. All we should be required to do is update to changes in practice and the specific legislation pertinent to our particular area of practice.

      I am totally livid about these changes that will without doubt have a negative effect on my direct work with my service users due to the added time I will need to spend to ensure I have managed to jump through the correct flaming hoop.

  3. Old dinosaur September 17, 2021 at 3:43 pm #

    SWE finishing off the hatchet job delivered by the government – no wonder we are leaving in droves

  4. James Furgart September 17, 2021 at 3:58 pm #

    SWE. The enemy of Social Workers. They will destroy you. Incompetent. Hardly any social workers work for them mainly police or workers who have no experience, not even ones days experience in social work. They will destroy your career.

  5. peter giffiths September 17, 2021 at 4:03 pm #

    Government doing their best to clear out bad SWs . No-more like clear out social workers. Despite a national shortage and retention of SWs our government insist on more theory reflecting on practice. At a time when the public are more concerned at seeing services cut or not available the government’s approved body are more interested in how SWs apply their practice. Whenever I receive a monthly copy of CC the headline from the pages of SWE is always about kicking SWs. No mention of this tatty outfit criticising the government, no mention of them demanding urgent action to reduce staff shortages and definitely no correspondence to ministers in addressing SW burn-out and mental health. BASW- do they share the offices with SWE? Another useless outfit in bed with the government.

    • A SW September 17, 2021 at 7:30 pm #

      Having been SW for almost 10 years i really cannot see what incentives there are to continue NQSW where are work are quitting shortly after qualifying, experienced workers feeling undervalued and overworked no holistic support across the board, managers not able to complete personal supervision and is mainly cases focused, who was consulted for this decision to be made which SW would want more reflection with no clear structure for support?

    • Anne-Marie Marshall September 17, 2021 at 8:31 pm #

      Peter. Did you mean SWE / HMG Doing their best to clear out social workers. No more like clear out bad social workers? If you did then I 100% agree.

      This punitive actions by HMG via their agent SWE are a direct assault on each one of us and our profession.

  6. Andrea Keeling September 17, 2021 at 7:24 pm #

    I think it’s time I found a new job. I really have better things to do with my time. I do social work all day and training throughout the year. We are not a highly paid profession you could get paid the same elsewhere and not have to keep proving your worthy of the job. I like to switch off when I finish work to look after my well-being not do more work!

  7. Allie September 18, 2021 at 9:38 am #

    And just to prove the point that SWE is a hamster wheel of a bureaucracy, along comes this. Why two? If CPD reflections are a true determinabt of competent and safe practice why just two? The fellow travellers have been trampling over each other to tell us how easy it is to upload so Why not five? Only an intellectually bereft organisation itself incapable of reflection comes up with this. The irony of talking about standards while without irony talking about if a CPD will be selected for scrutiny is just demoralising. I say to all those PSWs, challenge this nonsense. Ask for rigour not what I did on my holidays narratives, ask that the regulator offers leadership so we can be a truly learning profession, ask that they don’t hide behind a flawed consultation reframed as listening, don’t collude with the pretence that this is improving standards.

  8. Alex September 20, 2021 at 1:03 am #

    Employ social workers, you might learn something worthwhile.

  9. Harri September 20, 2021 at 10:24 am #

    Bureaucrats looking for meaningless buraucracy to address “something” they have no idea how to evaluate.

  10. Livid Dave September 20, 2021 at 2:12 pm #

    “The 618 respondents gave it an average approval rating of 3.32 out of 5” …

    I’m guessing that most of these were senior managers?

  11. Ticking Along September 20, 2021 at 2:30 pm #

    I have no doubt that my manager will upload the perfect reflective CPD. Perhaps even more than one. I am sure he will ‘merit’ his registration. Just a pity that my supervision, if it happens at all, consists of have you finished that report task management rather than giving me space to talk and the humility for himself to listen. So much for a process that supposedly ensures high standards and reassures the public. Managers giving each other peer feedback for CPD is the surest way of dumbing down.

  12. A Man Called Horse September 20, 2021 at 2:31 pm #

    This really is no laughing matter. Many Social Workers really have had enough of this and will vote with their feet and leave the profession. The job is hard, badly paid and you get abuse from SWE and from your clients.

    The review of Children’s Social work is also not going well with its chair rubbishing Social Workers am=nd having nothing to say on issues of inequality, poverty and destitution and how this impacts parents ability to look after their children.

  13. Gary Murgatroyd September 20, 2021 at 4:54 pm #

    Surely if this was a consultation why did it not go out to the people it affects and not just managers? I for one, was not consulted nor were any of my colleagues. The job is hard enough as it is without having to please jobsworths who are just trying to justify why they need a position and have too much time on their hands!

  14. Alec Fraher September 20, 2021 at 8:50 pm #

    The increase will be for non specified reasons ie it is part of a continuing category sourcing exercise to scope the resource and competency of the skill set..

    SW could agree to a ‘sight ónly’ and protected status of their cpd with specified restrictions on information reuse and ownership rights.

    Adding words like ‘the information contained in this CPD is for the sole purpose of assessing my professional performance and must not, in whole or part, be reused for other purposes without my written consent. It is for Sight Only reading and must not be sent in any format, in whole or part to any person not specified in my CPD agreement ie my named assessor(s) without my prior knowledge and consent.”

    It is the info trawl, the commercial reuse value to SWE is simply staggering. Its gold dust.

    We knew this in 2007. A whole profession is refusal is long over due.

    It is a TWOC of an industrial scale and Enron like a Sunday walk in the park. Remember Enron? SWE have the same hallmarks of sector leadership. Remember Hallmarks of Effective Leadership?

    For a theory to practice perspective on the comments above see Complex Society: In the Middle of the Middle World by Bojan Radej and Mojca Golobic.

  15. Terri September 21, 2021 at 10:33 am #

    I want to be a good social worker. I sometimes sacrifice my own wellbeing to support the people I work alongside. I try my best to bring something positive into people’s lives despite the disadvantages and prejudice they might be burdened with. I would gladly evidence half a dozen CPDs if I thought it improved the quality of my own and other social workers practice. This scattergun approach by SWE doesn’t inspire me, doesn’t give me confidence that it has any value other than satisfying bureaucratic expectations. Not once has my supervisor asked me to think about what to evidence. Not onece has a PSW told me anything other than “it’s a requirement” that needs to be done to keep me working. I know that this is not unique to me or social workers outside my local authority. If SWE and its champions really believed this was about standards, they would make it a mandatory requirement that managers not only provided protected time for us to put meaning into our reflections but also compelled our supervisors to engage in the process with us. I’m afraid all the quotes here just show how out of touch most social workers with a public profile are from the environments most social workers practice in across England. Beleive in me by giving me time, support and critical engagement. Don’t demoralise me with a pretend aspiration for safety and competence. This will no doubt be dismissed as cynicism or evidence of burn out rather than the considered thoughts of a committed social worker by the commentariat elites. But you are the ones who need to wake up to how a narrative about upload something which is unlikely to be looked at by SWE resonates with the humble social worker.

  16. Martin Roberts September 22, 2021 at 7:15 pm #

    First, it was pressure for those of us who work with the over 65+ to get both vaccines by the 11th of Nov or lose our jobs. I have been medically exempt due to health issues and reactions from the first vaccination. Got the letter from my Gp but it’s still not enough and HR requires further information. Now this, from SWE is the icing on the cake for me. Forget all the hours I was doing to accommodate the pressure last year with the pandemic and the fact there weren’t enough hospital social workers. Excuse me for sacrificing my time and working nearly 12 hours shifts and were forced to do weekends to stop the service from collapsing like so many other SW colleagues. I like many feel devalued, exhausted unsupported and taken for granted in my current LA I think it’s my time to leave the profession, I’ve had enough not to mention the discrimination due to my sexuality and colour. My mental and physical well-being is more important right now.

  17. Steve Ambler September 22, 2021 at 8:44 pm #

    For me personally, my CPD posts are about my learning and how I’ve applied that learning to my very specific social work roles to improve my practice. So, personally, It works for me! And, I enjoy the process!!

    So far so good. The crunch question is – Will SWE view my CPD posts in the same way if and when it is scrutinised? Watch this space!

    increasing the number of required CPD posts is not the answer. It’s the quality that counts. From what I understand from previous comments SWE do not have the expertise or experience to do this effectively.

    I’m lucky to be in the ‘twilight’ of my career. I work as an ‘Independant’ for a small fostering agency and perhaps somewhat insulated from the current pressures of our profession. I totally agree that SWE’s consultation was ill-concieved, flawed and patronising. They should think again.

    Did SWE contact all of us in their consultation? Not a difficult process. If they did I missed it.

  18. Ilhan September 23, 2021 at 12:02 pm #

    Isn’t supervision meant to enhance our learning and gor us to apply that knowledge to enhance our practice? Perhaps SWE can start by identifying some core supervision standards our bosses should meet. When they are not too busy twith their real work to supervise us ofcourse. If the CPD process helps individual social workers only without SWE quantifying what has improved practice, how are we to know if the uploaded CPDs are raising standards in the overall profession?

  19. Graeme September 23, 2021 at 9:19 pm #

    Ah supervision. The ghostly mystery of a bygone social work shrouded in the labyrinth of history.

  20. Casy September 27, 2021 at 9:16 am #

    This is my reflection. I have no podcast to peddle, I am not on twitter, I don’t have a Facebook account, wouldn’t know how to navigate Instagram. I do not write blogs,nobody from BASW would recognise me. I avoid any thoughts about swawards21. I am horrified by how easily some social workers are co-opted into an oppressive mindset by the seduction of an MBE. Without the humility to feel a twinge of guilt what their award means to us ex-colonial subjects. I rarely engage in the hypocracy that bigs itself as leadership that really is no more than glorified careerism. I am deaf to eulogising recruitment companies as positive partners. I bite my tongue when students are patronised by read the room to get on sages. I have no independent income. So I spent my Sunday writing my narrative mindful of throwing in my anti-racism, pro-diversity reflection linked to my personal experience as a born outside the UK, English is my third language social worker. So prejudice, belittling, racism, sexism and being patronised daily gets denued of all of their painful resonance to meet pointless standards set by uncomorehending and perhaps bewildered bureaucrats. Abetted by coat-tail fellow travellers and twitter present head nodding. I have learnt nothing from my uploaded CPD other than an internalised loathing for the pretence that this is all about learning, improving and safety. I say to those leaders, PSW’s, educators, MBE embracers, CSWs, BASW promoters, pretend leftists, ineffectual ‘proactive’ anti racists, myth peddlers, which way is the wind blowing ideologues, desperate to hide promotion obsessions under a ‘here for the clients’ banner waivers and the ‘co-production” affirmers who know nothing about the lives of the people they fantasise about, here is a social worker who will be on the register but has no confidence in the process of registration. Of more concern to you should be that not my manager, my supervisor nor SWE have any notion whether my CPD is based on real experiences or a competent guess work by me of what I am expected to demonstrate. That’s not my definition of safe practice. It shouldn’t be yours. Hopefully my own internal compass, values, committment and desire to be good and honest will make me competent and a true advocate.

  21. Craig September 27, 2021 at 10:41 am #

    SWE and your champions, ask yourself the honest question about what it means to have a legally enforced protected title of social worker when the person doesnt and has not practiced as a social worker for years they dont have any face to face contact with people who use care services, whose job it is to sit in a civic building without any social workers in it? Why are you comfortable to register Strategic managers whose sole function is to bully practitioners to keep “within budget’ and have no regard to how that impacts on the people we are trying to work alongside? Why do you make them the equal of us? They don’t see themselves as social workers, they define themselves by their functionary titles. Why the low self esteem that you crave to validate these people? Do you really care about social work values? Leave social work to social workers. ‘Senior’ Managers have their own special happy place. It’s not alongside us.

  22. Keith September 27, 2021 at 4:16 pm #

    We do what we have to do because every single word Casy wrote is true. Our bossess and leaders seem to have long forgotten that integrity and honesty matters more than this vacuity. Pay the fee and forget for another year isn’t really what makes a profession is it?

  23. Andrew September 28, 2021 at 9:01 am #

    In 2018, BASW published its approval of the constitution and recruitment policy of SWE and “recommended” that there should be “at least one” qualified social worker on its committees and Board. Not a majority. They commended SWE for being ethical, fair and reasonable. Some of us have memories of those times, some of us stopped being BASW members as a consequence. Every time a social worker is hounded and persecuted by SWE, we should remember the legitimacy BASW gives it still. Proactive anti-racism doesn’t cut it when you are embedded in a regulator that seems to predominantly target persons of colour and women for fitness to practice investigations. So here is a prediction, when it is expedient, apologies, when it’s the right time, BASW will enthuse about why increasing CPD requirements is good for social work and a positive for social workers. My stating the obvious isnt that clever and certainly isn’t rocket science either.

  24. Waheed Ahmed October 14, 2021 at 1:27 am #

    I’m tempted to de-register. SWE need to realise how busy social workers and managers are trying to keep people safe without introducing yet more work!