Social Work Reform Board report

Reform board sets out social work’s first national standards

SW Reform boardThe Social Work Reform Board has set out its vision for reforming the profession in England, with a seris of proposals to raise standards across the workforce.

Community Care is producing a series of articles exploring what the proposals mean for social workers.

The proposed professional capabilities framework explains what is expected of social workers at every stage of their career. It will be used as the benchmark for practice and future training and career structures

In its one-year progress report, the Social Work Reform Board also said that social workers should receive at least 90 minutes of regular, uninterrupted supervision. This should take place at least weekly for the first six weeks of employment of a newly qualified social worker, at least fortnightly for the first six months, and a minimum of monthly supervision thereafter.

These supervision standards will be supported by a voluntary standard for employers regarding the support they provide to social workers.

Tougher entry requirements to the social work degree to drive up the calibre of students were also recommended by the Social Work Reform Board.

The move is part of a bid to put social work on a more professional footing, in line with professions such as teaching and health.

“This report marks a staging post in the journey of social work reform and a foundation for helping us to deliver a better future for social work,” said Moira Gibb, chair of the Social Work Reform Board.

The latest proposals have set a high bar for the whole of the profession, and, as workforce journalist Kirsty McGregor reports, not everyone is convinced that employers are in a position to implement them.

Children’s minister Tim Loughton said “significant funding” would be announced to implement the reforms and help implement the recommendations of Professor Eileen Munro’s child protection review.

However, social workers have already questioned the lack of sanctions for employers who fail to meet the Social Work Reform Board’s recommendations to improve working conditions.

There are also concerns that the national standard for employers will not reduce violence against social workers.

Unison has warned that the Social Work Reform Board’s proposal to simplify and improve continuing professional development “will not stick” unless social workers are allowed protected time for training.

Related content

To hear a podcast from Moira Gibb on what the social work national standards mean for the profession, click on this link.

Intervention skills

Kelly Hicks A practitioner improves her intervention skills in line with the Social Work Reform Board’s expectations.

Reflective practice

Phillippe Mandin Social work reformers want to see the spread of critically reflective decision-making. How can this be achieved?

Contexts and organisations

Phillippe Mandin Reform Board stipulates how ocial workers can help develop services and work in multi-agency settings.

Knowledge capability

knowledge illustration What the Reform Board has to say about social workers’ knowledge and ability to apply theory to practice

Do the rights thing

people How the reform board aims to help social workers promote the rights to justice and economic well-being

Diversity in practice

diversity Social work reformers look to buttress the profession’s role in promoting diversity.


Student placements

placement illu Social work students are finding it increasingly difficult to gain statutory placements. What’s the reform board’s position?

Ethical dilemmas

ethical What should social workers do when their values conflict with the law? Practitioner Michelle Coleman (pictured) discusses her approach.


pole dancer What makes the perfect professional? The Social Work Reform Board puts forward its proposals

Emotional resilience

Claudia Megele Tips, by psychotherapist Claudia Megele, for social workers on how to develop and sustain emotional resilience

Better supervision

social work reform What the proposed supervision framework will mean for social work practitioners and managers.

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