National professional standards for social workers published

The Social Work Reform Board has today published the first single, national set of professional standards for social workers, in a bid to raise the status of the job in line with other public sector roles such as nursing and teaching.

The board has also outlined the standards of supervision and support social workers should expect from their employers in its report, Building a Safe and Confident Future – One Year On .

From now on, employers will have to make sure a sufficient number of skilled and experienced social workers are available to meet the level of demand in any area.

Workloads and caseloads will have to be managed carefully so that social workers are not overworked and social workers must be given the practical resources they need to do their jobs, plus development opportunities to further their experience and skills.

Meanwhile, the board has recommended that social work education should be reformed to improve the quality of social work degrees, by introducing more rigorous selection criteria.

Social work courses will also be redesigned to involve people who have experienced social services, so that training properly reflects the reality of the job.

Moira Gibb, chair of the reform board and chief executive of the London Borough of Camden said her board has been working to make last year’s Social Work Task Force recommendations a reality.

“This report, the first from the Social Work Reform Board, marks a staging post in the journey of social work reform and a foundation for helping us, together, to deliver a better future for social work,” she explained.

“The proposals published today should help every individual social worker, every employer of social workers and everyone who educates or trains social workers to do their work better in the interests of those who need and use social work.”

Junior children’s minister Tim Loughton welcomed the board’s proposals as an important step for social workers to gain improved status and respect.

“We are committed to making a real difference to frontline social work and to implementing the Social Work Reform Board’s recommendations,” he said. “That is why in the new year we will be announcing significant funding to implement the reforms and Professor Munro’s recommendations to improve child protection.

“Social workers perform an invaluable job that all too often gets overlooked and taken for granted. They need all the professional support and advice possible so that they feel confident they are making the right decisions.”

The report, Building a Safe and Confident Future – One Year On, proposes five key improvements:

• An overarching professional standards framework – setting out for the first time the standards expected of social workers at every point of their career, from their degree to advanced social work roles
• Standards for employers and a supervision framework – setting out employers statutory responsibilities to help and support social workers and challenge them to develop their skills
• Continuing professional development framework – the principles that help social workers develop specialist knowledge, improve their practice and progress in their careers
• Developing social work education so that student social workers receive high quality preparation for joining the profession
• Better partnership working between employers and higher education institutions to provide practice placements for degree students and continuing professional development (CPD) for social workers.,%20progress%20report.pdf