For registered social workers in England: how confident are you of meeting this year's CPD requirements by the end of November?
- Very confident (49%, 218 Votes)
- Very unconfident (19%, 87 Votes)
- Somewhat confident (18%, 80 Votes)
- Somewhat unconfident (9%, 41 Votes)
- Don't know (5%, 23 Votes)
Total Voters: 449
As of the end of June, 8% of practitioners – just under 8,000 social workers – had submitted at least one piece of CPD to Social Work England, compared with 14% by the same period last year, said a report to the regulator’s board meeting today.
This is despite the regulator having set tougher conditions for practitioners to renew their registration this year, involving submitting two pieces of CPD and detailing learning they have acquired from reflecting on one of the pieces with a peer. Last year’s requirement was to submit one piece of CPD, with no need for a peer reflection, by the end of the annual renewal cycle – 30 November – as was the case in Social Work England’s first registration year, 2020.
The board paper revealed that just 3% of social workers had met the complete CPD requirement by the end of June, five months before the registration renewal deadline.
The regulator sent a targeted message to social workers last month, reminding them of what they had to do, having previously written to employers and all registrants about the new system.
Social Work England told Community Care it was not concerned about the situaton and its focus was on ensuring all social workers met the CPD conditions by 30 November, referencing the fact that most practitioners had submitted CPD during the three-month renewal period starting on 1 September in each of the previous two years.
CPD is ‘non-negotiable’
In a statement, Philip Hallam, its executive director of regulation, said: “CPD is an integral part of your career as a social worker and fundamental to being a registered professional. All social workers should reflect on their experiences, look for opportunities to learn and improve and consider the professional standards as part of their role. We suggest that it is beneficial to record your learning throughout the year, however this is entirely up to you.
“What is non-negotiable is that you must meet the CPD requirements to renew your registration with us, by 30 November. If you don’t meet the renewal requirements by the deadline, then you can no longer practise as a social worker. It is a protected title, and by law you cannot use it and practise unless you are registered with Social Work England.”
You can find full guidance on the CPD requirements on Social Work England’s website, covering topics including how to record CPD on your online account with the regulator, what counts as continuing professional development and how to submit a peer reflection.
Community Care Inform has also produced a guide to how users can upload CPD to their Social Work England accounts from Inform.
However, the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Social Workers Union (SWU) warned that work pressures were creating significant barriers to practitioners fulfilling their CPD obligations.
“BASW provides a flexible and blended core offer of CPD and is committed to supporting social workers to develop their skills, but many of our members have shared that the volume and complexity of their work, coupled with excessive hours, are directly limiting them accessing CPD opportunities and having reflective time to complete registration evidence,” said BASW England national director Maris Stratulis.
“We need to evidence and truly understand why a lower percentage of registrants have not uploaded their CPD compared to the previous year and explore ways to support registrants in an ever increasing and demanding work and personal environment.”
Social workers ‘burnt out and exhausted’
SWU national organiser Carol Reid said: “SWU is not surprised by this slower response given that our members tell us that they are burnt out and exhausted and see the new requirements as additional levels of interrogation when they are already snowed under with the pressures of demanding caseloads, additional hours, lack of support, and often no flexibility to rigid full-time working patterns. Our members see high turnovers of staff, cases growing in numbers and complexity, and little chance of productive and reflective supervision – including opportunities for peer reflection – so it’s hardly surprising that there is no rush to complete the newly updated forms.
“SWU welcomes supportive input from Social Work England in relation to adapting and developing their ways of collecting evidence of CPD, but it must consider the context, time limitations, and frustrations experienced by social workers when requested to collate, document, and reflect upon their daily interventions.”
In 2020, Social Work England removed 256 practitioners who applied to renew their registration but did not complete the CPD requirement, with 125 removed for the same reason in 2021. In those years, social workers who applied to renew were given an additional three weeks, after the 30 November deadline, to submit CPD, but this grade period will not be available this year.