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”.