Quality of social work CPD ‘much higher’ than in previous year, says regulator

Just 2% of social workers whose CPD was assessed were given feedback on how they could improve, compared with 6% in previous year, with assessors praising greater variety of CPD and focus on self-reflection

Group of colleagues learning together
Photo: Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock

The quality of social workers’ continuing professional development submissions was “much higher” in the last registration renewal round compared with the previous year.

That was the message from Social Work England after the annual assessment of CPD submitted by a randomly selected sample of 2.5% of social workers on the register.

While 129 of the 2,225 (5.8%) whose CPD was studied for the 2021 renewal round were given feedback on how their submissions could have been improved, 46 of 2,304 (2%) were given the same following the latest audit.

The 46 social workers will all have their CPD reviewed again following the next renewal round later this year, should they wish to stay on the register.

The CPD samples are examined by 10 assessors who are independent of Social Work England, half of whom are registered social workers. They focus on how far the submissions meet Social Work England’s standard on maintaining CPD (see box).

‘Much higher’ standard of CPD

“The assessors felt the standard of CPD recorded by social workers was much higher than the previous year,” said Social Work England.

Social workers’ submissions included “a good mix of different types of CPD”, rather than just training sessions, and covered a more diverse set of topics than previously, including county lines and reflecting on virtual reality experiences of practice.

“They also commented that the best pieces of CPD focused on self-reflection,” the regulator added.

Social Work England’s CPD standard

Under standard 4 of the regulator’s professional standards, social workers should:

  • Incorporate feedback from a range of sources, including people with lived experience of their practice.
  • Use supervision and feedback to critically reflect on and identify learning needs.
  • Keep practice up to date and record how they use research, theories and frameworks to inform practice.
  • Demonstrate good subject knowledge and develop knowledge of current issues impacting on practice.
  • Contribute to an open and creative learning culture in the workplace.
  • Reflect on learning activities and evidence the impact of CPD on practice.
  • Record learning and reflection on a regular basis, in line with Social Work England guidance.
  • Reflect on their values and challenge how they impact on their practice.

The assessed improvement in the quality of CPD submitted came despite Social Work England increasing its submissions requirements last year from one to two pieces, with registrants also having to reflect on one of these with a peer.

Feedback on peer reflection

Peers can be fellow registered social workers, line managers, supervisors or fellow professionals with knowledge of the registrant’s practice.

Assessors said that some submissions did not specify who the peer was, making it difficult to understand their direct role in the process. They also urged practitioners to ensure they explained the impact of the peer reflection on their practice.

As last year, assessors highlighted the wider importance of social workers setting out the impact of their CPD on their practice, with some practitioners given feedback because of their failure to do so.

This is in line with standard 4.6, under which social workers pledge to “reflect on my learning activities and evidence what impact continuing professional development has on the quality of my practice”.

Social workers urged to take care with CPD

The assessors also stressed that social workers needed take care in recording their CPD, in the light of many social workers having made their submissions towards the end of the three-month renewal process.

They found that “quality CPD was recorded in good time, well ahead of the [30 November] deadline”, as this gave practitioners time to reflect on their learning, and that it was easy to see when social workers had rushed the process.

In many of the cases where feedback was given, this was because social workers had not understood fully, or had answered incorrectly, one of the questions on the CPD form, while many records had spelling or grammatical errors.

While assessors do not judge CPD on the quality of spelling or grammar, Social Work England urged practitioners to proofread their submissions to ensure that assessors understood them and to demonstrate care in recording their CPD.


2 Responses to Quality of social work CPD ‘much higher’ than in previous year, says regulator

  1. peter griffiths May 29, 2023 at 9:15 pm #

    When is this organisation going to concentrate more on the well-being of SWs and less on the academic requirements. Every month SW England discuss CPD, qualifications or skills required. This is all about ‘ we are in charge’. Adult SW is now just a tick box career with the personalisation model confined to the dustbin. SW England do not listen to feedback or complaints. Their role is to ignore SWs

  2. Alison May 30, 2023 at 3:06 pm #

    As every year the thought pops up about how SWE could possibly know what the standards are when the process is nothing more than benchmarking. My best friend at work and I peer reviewed each others submission. We are ofcourse paragons of truth, honesty and professionalism. But how does SWE know this? Particularly as the random sample itooks at is so miniscule that in a survey the data wouldn’t be statistically appraisable. So we’ll done us for tolerating a self affirming regulator that’s more interested in capturing what it wants for its own ends than one confident enough to embrace transparency. Pay up, do as you’re told, don’t ask for explanations or we’ll de-register you isn’t really the best way to uphold and improve standards is it?