Eight organisations have been selected to help design and then test the government’s proposed early career framework for social workers (ECF) starting their careers in statutory children’s services.
The Department for Education (DfE) has chosen three independent, non-local authority providers as early adopters for the five-year ECF: Achieving for Children, for its services in Kingston and Richmond; Birmingham Children’s Trust, and Together for Children in Sunderland.
They are joined by five local authorities – East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Plymouth, Stockport and Tower Hamlets – with the group working with the DfE to design a model for delivering the ECF during 2023-24, supported by an expected £50,000 in grant funding each, initially.
They would then, along with another group of authorities, test elements of the model from September 2024, with the DfE planning to implement the ECF from September 2026.
All eight have been chosen on the basis that they already have a system for supporting early career children’s social workers that extends beyond the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE).
The DfE plans to replace the ASYE with a two-year induction period, which would be followed by a further three years of career development in which practitioners would be expected to specialise, for example, in child protection.
In guidance published in March, the DfE said designing the ECF would be complex because of the need to identify the knowledge and skills required by early career social workers, the method and delivery of training and assessment and the balance between central and local delivery of the programme.
It said it wanted to work with the early adopters to explore the strengths and limitations of their existing programmes of support for early career practitioners, including their impact on social workers.
Separately, the DfE has appointed an “expert writing group” to develop a knowledge and skills framework for practitioners undergoing the ECF.