Social work students are leaving college without the skills to save a Baby P

Some universities are heightening the risk of another Baby P tragedy by giving social work degrees to students who lack the basic skills needed to protect children, MPs were warned today.

The Family Rights Group charity, which works with families receiving social care, said some newly qualified social workers were unable to carry out essential tasks such as analysing reports and gathering information about vulnerable children.

It warned that others were often unaware of the full provisions of child welfare law and suggested that a principal cause of the problems was lax standards on university social work courses.

This meant that academics were under “intense pressure” to pass even the worst students, while a further concern was the low-entry criteria set for some university social work courses.

The result, the charity added, was that although the majority of social workers remained well trained, a “significant minority” of new recruits who lacked skills needed to do their job were being allowed to enter the profession.

Today’s warning, delivered at a hearing of the Commons Children, Families and Skills Committee as part of its investigation into the training of social workers, will heighten concerns about the profession in the wake of the Baby P tragedy. Today, Cathy Ashley, the chief executive of the Family Rights Group, said high standards must be enforced on degree courses.

“Social work is a highly complex job that requires many skills and although most people in the profession are very competent, we are concerned about the abilities of a minority of new entrants,” she said.

“Our experience is that some are ignorant of important parts of child welfare law and others aren’t able to compile and present the important information about children and their families which is needed to ensure that those who are vulnerable are properly safeguarded.”

Ms Ashley added: “We are concerned that some universities are trying to maximise their student numbers to increase their revenue and are not doing enough to ensure that only suitable people are allowed to qualify.”