Regulator adds two social workers to board

Appointments mean three out of eight Social Work England board members are registered practitioners

Sue Ross and Adi Cooper
Adi Cooper (left) and Sue Ross (right), the new members of Social Work England's board

Social Work England has added two social workers to its board, meaning three of the eight members are registered practitioners.

The regulator faced criticism from social work commentators, on its establishment in 2019, for having just one registered board member, chief executive Colum Conway.

The new board members, Adi Cooper and Sue Ross, replace Baroness Tyler and Helen Phillips, who had both served on the regulator’s board since Social Work England was set up in 2019.

Colum Conway, chief executive of Social Work England, said the regulator was delighted to welcome the two new board members with social work experience, adding: “The board members of Social Work England are appointed through the public appointments process and have a breadth of skills and knowledge to ensure the organisation can fulfil its vital regulatory duties.”

Staffing criticisms

The regulator has also been criticised, in comments under Community Care articles, for not having enough social workers on its staff.

Of the 209 full time equivalent (FTE) staff, 27 FTE are social workers, making up 13% of the workforce. Of the 176 partners – experts who provide assistance in areas such as CPD, education quality assurance and fitness to practise – 57 are social workers, 32% of that total.

Social Work England said that its work “includes a huge range of responsibilities, from managing registration processes and fitness to practise, to education quality assurance and setting standards for the sector”.

It added: “To run a large organisation like this effectively, it’s essential that it employs specialist staff with knowledge spanning areas like policy, data protection, IT, finance, legal, customer service, investigations, HR and more.”

New additions to board

In addition to the three registered board members, the chair of Social Work England, Lord Patel, is also a qualified social worker, although not currently registered.

Cooper spent over 20 years working as a social worker and manager in local authority services, culminating in nine years as director of adult social services in the London Borough of Sutton, from 2006-15.

She has since worked as a social care and health adviser for the Local Government Association and currently chairs two safeguarding adults boards and is a visiting professor at the University of Bedfordshire.

Ross is a consultant in health and social care covering both adults’ and children’s services, and previously worked in adults’ and children’s services director roles in England, Scotland and Wales, most recently at the former Bournemouth council.

18 Responses to Regulator adds two social workers to board

  1. David October 19, 2021 at 3:28 pm #

    At last. Let’s hope this is the beginning of SWE doing the other necessary things to gain our confidence.

  2. Captain Fog October 19, 2021 at 3:45 pm #

    It is still no where near the proportion of qualified doctors on the BMA!

  3. Black Diamond October 19, 2021 at 3:48 pm #

    Where are the Bame social Work practitioners, it is okay to have them but their no black African/Caribbean staff on that board , we need people who reflect society in the U.K. and who reflect people with lived experiences.

    • The Watcher October 20, 2021 at 8:52 am #

      My thoughts exactly Black Diamond. Further evidence that SWE are institutionally racist. Not that we needed it.

    • Jazzy P October 27, 2021 at 8:16 am #

      I was just about to write the very same. SWE were recently criticised for the lack of racial diversity in its staffing – what are they doing to address this?

      • Cheryl D October 28, 2021 at 8:57 am #

        As a woman of colour, and seeing how SWE have conducted themselves, I wouldn’t work for them for footballer’s wages!

  4. sharina ekhtar October 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm #

    it would be pertinent to know how many on the board are from black and minority ethnic communities, specifically holding senior roles?

  5. Lorraine Francique October 19, 2021 at 6:40 pm #

    It is really good to have social workers on the board of the regulator. How diverse is the board ? Are there any professionals from BME background on the board? There are very experienced social workers from BME backgrounds who would add a different element to the board. Or would BME social workers not be considered, as they are at the lower echelons of organisations?

  6. Vix October 19, 2021 at 11:40 pm #

    This is one step forwards, but where is the diversity? Are there black, disabled, lgbtq+ people on the staff and boards/leadership. SWE have a long way to go before they can gain people’s confidence and fairly represent and regulate social workers. I would urge people to give their equality data so that we can see if there are discriminatory referrals to SWE as well.

  7. Orla Anderson October 20, 2021 at 10:42 am #

    No surprises with the lack of SWE diversity here. We knew last year of their institutional racism from the article below. The fact they don’t even try to address or deny this says a lot. They will be telling us they have “diversity of thought” next – like the Tory puppets they are.

  8. Geordie October 20, 2021 at 5:43 pm #

    Is this an example of the “clumsy conversations” SWE are so keen for us to begin having?

  9. Sarah D October 21, 2021 at 12:07 am #

    SWE are on cloud cuckoo when it comes to diversity. Why publicly state they are not a diverse organisation and then make these unexciting Board appointments? Mediocre and misjudged. Again.

  10. Kitty October 21, 2021 at 9:56 am #

    This is who they are, this is what they think of us. Shame on the many leaders who remain silent. More distressing are those who see this and still pretend there is something positive in SWE. Contempt doesn’t have to be crude, it can just be this.

  11. Concerned citizen October 22, 2021 at 12:06 am #

    Ok so they have a social work qualification, big deal! No information around when they actually last practised social work or whether they have even completed an assessment under the Care Act, which I doubt.
    They are so far removed from the daily routine of a social worker they might as well be Boris Johnson at PM’s questions, clueless.

  12. Abdul October 22, 2021 at 3:51 pm #

    The lack of diversity is a concern, but what is more worrying to me is when will SWE stand up for ALL Social Worker’s, against the ruling elite of Central Government and oppressiveness of senior management at most LA’s? Social Worker’s are being overwhelmed and overworked, and there is no support or resources. Who is caring and looking out for us, and for the vulnerable children we help and support. SWE does little more than ‘shame, blame, and ruin social worker’s careers, but what are they doing to challenge the organisations and hold them to account for unlawful and unsafe work practices?

  13. Cheryl October 23, 2021 at 10:00 am #

    A social work regulatory board where social workers are under represented & BAME practitioners non-existent? Surreal.☹

  14. Anonymous October 24, 2021 at 3:18 pm #

    SWE the true enemy of hard working social workers. They cannot assess the bad v the good so you are all thrown into the pile. There you sit for years meanwhile your social work confidence and moral and experience is picked apart (slowly). SWE the promotion of removing good social workers. Horrible people.