Councils urged to test social work early career framework

DfE seeks to increase number of authorities trialling five-year programme of support for newly qualified social workers in children's services intended to replace ASYE

Manager and social worker talking about work over a computer
Photo posed by models: (credit: nd3000/Fotolia)

The government is urging more councils and children’s trusts to test its planned five-year programme of support for newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) in children’s services.

The Department for Education issued a second call for bids to trial the early career framework (ECF) today, after selecting eight organisations to do so last year.

The chosen organisations will help the DfE better understand the needs of early career children’s social workers, inform the makeup of the ECF and design an accompanying development programme for practitioners. They will get £50,000 for taking part.

Replacing the ASYE

Under the DfE’s children’s social care reforms, the ECF is designed to replace the 12-month assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) with a longer-term programme of support.

This would be split into an initial two-year induction period for new staff, followed by a further three years of career development in which they would be enabled to specialise.

The policy is designed to boost social workers’ skills and knowledge, but also improve retention. This is in the light of feedback that practitioners struggled particularly in years two to four of their careers after losing the support provided through the ASYE.

In selecting the first eight ECF early adopters last year, the DfE specifically sought employers who were already providing support for NQSWs that stretched beyond the ASYE.

Who is already testing the early career framework?

  • Achieving for Children (for its services in Kingston and Richmond)
  • Birmingham Children’s Trust
  • East Sussex County Council
  • Gloucestershire County Council
  • Plymouth Council
  • Stockport Council
  • Together for Children (in Sunderland)
  • London Borough of Tower Hamlets

There is no such stipulation for the second round of early adopters, however, they must:

  • Be Ofsted-rated good or outstanding (in the first round, ‘requires improvement’ authorities were permitted to apply).
  • Appoint a minimum of 20 NQSWs in children’s services each year.
  • Have sufficient capacity, flexibility and willingness to fully engage with the programme.

The DfE is particularly after councils or trusts from the East of England, East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, regions that were not represented in the first round.

How to take part

To take part, organisations need to request the expressions of interest form by emailing with their contact details.

You can also request, via the same email address, to take part in two online sessions – on 15 March (12noon to 1pm) and 20 March (2pm to 3pm) – to find out more.

The application deadline is 4 April 2024 at midday.

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