Ed Balls urges teachers and lawyers to become social workers
Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, is to unveil plans to draw 200 people from careers such as teaching and the law to become social workers.
The move is part of proposals brought in after a damning report on the state of child protection in the wake of the death of Baby Peter.
He died after months of violent abuse by his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger, despite being on Haringey Council’s child protection register and being visited at least 60 times.
When details of the toddler’s death became public, Lord Laming wrote a report calling for a “step change” in the way children were protected from harm.
He said not enough progress had been made since his inquiry in the wake of the death of Victoria Climbie, another child murdered by relatives in the same London borough.
Mr Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, will reveal a new “on the job” social work qualification to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).
The aim is to get 200 people who are changing career to become social workers. They would be paid £15,000 a year while training.
Recruitment will start immediately with the selection process being carried out early next year.
Mr Balls will also reveal plans to set up a professional college to represent social workers, similar to those which represent doctors and nurses.
And he will give new guidance about the different roles of the director of children’s services and the lead member for children’s services in local authorities.
The minister will speak at the ADCS’ first annual conference since the scandal surrounding Baby Peter’s death.
Two serious case reviews into Haringey’s child protection services found a string of “serious concerns”.
The 17-month-old child’s death “could and should have been prevented” but agencies lacked “thoroughness and urgency” by not taking him into care, inspectors found.
The review concluded that if doctors, lawyers, police officers and social workers had adopted a more urgent, thorough and challenging approach, the case would have been stopped in its tracks at the first serious incident.
But the scandal also brought into focus the shortage of social workers in Britain.
Earlier this year, the Conservatives claimed that around a third of social work posts were left vacant in November 2008.
The Department for Children School and Families said it would work with local authorities to try to recruit more social workers in the longer term.
Plans outlined earlier in the year included sponsoring university places for graduates in any subject to become social workers and persuading those who had left the profession to return.