SWRB supervision and training reforms ‘lack teeth’ claim BASW

BASW has expressed its regret that a raft of positive proposals for raising social worker supervision standards have been seriously weakened by a lack of any obligation on employers to adhere to them.

The Association was responding to the Social Work Reform Board’s five core proposals for implementing a structure for continuous professional development (CPD), higher training standards for students, closer relations between employers and universities and minimum standards for supervision.

BASW’s Bridget Robb was a major contributor to the SWRB’s recommendations but expressed her concern that they could amount to “a waste of public money”, adding that the lack of enforcement mechanisms means the standards could make little difference to the support and training social workers receive.

Commenting on the document, Building a safe and confident future: One year on, Ms Robb said: “Current mechanisms for monitoring the education and CPD standards are in flux, with the transfer of responsibility from the General Social Care Council to the Health Professionals Council, and the College of Social Work is as yet too new and weak to take any of this on with any meaning.

“I am also very concerned that the standards will not provide any recourse for social workers who are unhappy with the quality of supervision and support they receive from their employer. The Standards for Employers are only advisory. One has to ask whether they will actually mean anything in practice or if they will sit on a shelf and be forgotten about.

“Ultimately, while there is much to recommend in this report, it is difficult to escape the view that proposals with this level of rigour could have been put together far quicker and at far less public expense. ”

The SWRB was established to implement the findings of the Social Work Taskforce, which in December 2009 produced a lengthy list of proposals for restoring the health of social work profession. The Taskforce was set up in response to a range of concerns about the challenges facing social work, though it gained impetus and political importance in the wake of the Baby Peter Connolly tragedy in Haringey Borough Council.

The SWRB’s recommendations are now subject to a period of consultation, ending on 31 March 2011.