1 Social Work Reform Briefing from Children England March 2012 About This Briefing This briefing is provided on behalf of the Department for Education s overarching strategic partnership for voluntary, community and social enterprise sector organisations that serve children, young people and families. Led by Children England, and working with Community Matters, NCVYS, NAVCA, the Race Equality Foundation and Social Enterprise UK, the programme will include information, learning resources and opportunities, and peer support networks. For more information please click here. This briefing has been produced by Children England, the leading membership organisation for the children, young people and families voluntary sector, and includes information on the Social Work Task Force, the Social Work Reform Board and the changes implemented as a result of their work Introduction The reforming of social work can be seen as part of the Coalition s wider attempts to reform public services. At the heart of all of these reforms is a belief that reducing bureaucracy and empowering public sector workers to meet local need is the key to producing modern, efficient and flexible services. The current social work reform process was started under the previous Government. The Social Work Task Force was set up by the Government in December 2008 in response to the emergency inspection of Haringey Child Protection Services following the death of Baby P (Peter Connelly) in August Peter Connelly was 17 months old when he died at the hands of his abusive carers despite 60 contacts with the police, health services and social workers. His death and the subsequent inspection of Haringey Child Protection Services received a huge amount of news coverage and re-ignited a debate about the efficiency of the Child Protection Services not only in Haringey but also across the country. Previously, following the death of Victoria Climbié in 2000 Lord Laming was asked to head the inquiry into her death, which resulted in a series of recommendations to improve child protection services and prevent the harm of vulnerable young people 2. 1 Social Work Task Force Timeline, 1/12/ The Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report, 28/01/2003
2 The results of the emergency inspection of Haringey s child protection services triggered a further examination of the way in which social work is undertaken and the systems and working practices that it involves. This examination took place in 3 ways: through the setting up of the Social Work Task Force to advise on a comprehensive programme of reform; a review conducted by Lord Laming of the extent to which his previous recommendations were being followed by councils across the country 3 ; and a review of child protection social work practice undertaken by Professor Eileen Munro, building on Lord Laming s Progress Report and the work of the Social Work Task Force 4 (a briefing on Professor Munro s report can be downloaded from the Children England website 5 ). Social Work Task Force The Social Work Task Force was formed to undertake a comprehensive review of frontline social work practice with the aim to develop a social work system that provides high quality services from social workers that are well supported, and in whom the public feels confident 6. Moira Gibb was appointed chair of the task force and asked to focus on 4 areas: leadership, improving quality, training and recruitment. The Social Work Task Force published their final report on the 1 st December with 15 recommendations, all of which were accepted by the Government: 1. Calibre of entrants: that criteria governing the calibre of entrants to social work education and training be strengthened. 2. Curriculum and delivery: an overhaul of the content and delivery of social work degree courses. 3. Practice placements: that new arrangements be put in place to provide sufficient high quality practice placements, which are properly supervised and assessed, for all social work students. 4. Assessed Year in Employment: the creation of an assessed and supported year in employment as the final stage in becoming a social worker. 3 The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report,03/ The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report, 05/2011 https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationdetail/page1/cm% Review_Briefing.pdf 6 Information on Department for Education website, 1/03/ Building a Safe and Confident Future: The Final Report of the Social Work Task Force, 12/2009 https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationdetail/page1/dcsf
3 5. Regulation of social work education: more transparent and effective regulation of social work education to give greater assurance of consistency and quality. 6. Standard for Employers: the development of a clear national standard for the support social workers should expect from their employers in order to do their jobs effectively. 7. Supervision: the new standard for employers should be supported by clear national requirements for the supervision of social workers. 8. Front line management: the creation of dedicated programmes of training and support for front line social work managers. 9. Continuing Professional Development: the creation of a more coherent and effective national framework for the continuing professional development of social workers, along with mechanisms to encourage a shift in culture which raises expectations of an entitlement to ongoing learning and development. 10. National Career Structure: the creation of a single, nationally recognised career structure for social work. 11. National College of Social Work: the creation of an independent national college of social work, developed and led by social workers. 12. Public Understanding: a new programme of action on public understanding of social work. 13. Licence to Practise: the development of a licence to practice system for social workers. 14. Social Worker Supply: a new system for forecasting levels of supply and demand for social workers. 15. National Reform Programme: the creation of a single national reform programme for social work. Social Work Reform Board The Social Work Reform Board (SWRB) was set up in January 2010 to implement the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force and ensure that the reform is a sector-led process. The Board includes employers, social workers, service users, carers, trade unions and educators taking part in guiding, developing and implementing r reforms 8. In December 2010 the SWRB published their progress report and detailed proposals in Building a safe and confident future: one year on 9, which outlined five key areas of reform and the ways in which these will be implemented. The reforms in the report cover the whole career of a social worker from selection onto degree courses, to improving the skills and capacity of those already in the profession. 8 Social Work Reform Board Website 9 Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/2010 Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Progress Report, 12/2010 https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationdetail/page1/dfe
4 The SWRB has prioritised the development of practical tools to embed the reforms using feedback on draft proposals, evidence from test sites and the recommendations of the Munro Review of Child Protection to create a set of products to bring about the necessary improvements. The process and timeline of the Social Work Reform Programme can be seen below. The SWRB has created or overseen the creation of various tools and then reviewed and refined them with the input of social workers, students, educators, employers, service users and carers. The SWRB is now overseeing the implementation of these tools and structures, handing products over to host organisations within the sector for their use and continued development 10. As the review and editing of these tools draws to a close and host organisations take ownership, the role of the SWRB will decrease, with the social work sector playing a greater role in the next phase of the 10 year reform process set out by the Task Force.. The five areas of reform: Overarching Professional Capabilities (Standards) Framework 11 The Overarching Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), which describes the overarching standards for the profession, has been described by the SWRB as being at the heart of the reforms, underpinning the whole social work reform programme 12 and setting out consistent expectations for all social workers. This framework will inform the design and implementation of education and training and the national career structure, 10 Social Work Reform Board Narrative, 21/12/ Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/ Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Progress Report, 12/2010 https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationdetail/page1/dfe
5 recommendation number 15 in the Social Work Task Force s final report. The framework also links to the education and training of social workers, the development of degree courses and continuing professional development as well as performance management and appraisal. The core themes of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) are: Professionalism - Identify and behave as a professional social worker committed to professional development. Values and ethics - Apply social work ethical principles and values to guide professional practice. Diversity - Recognise diversity and apply anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive principles in practice. Justice - Advance human rights and promote social justice and economic wellbeing. Knowledge - Apply knowledge of social sciences, law and social work practice theory. Judgment - Use judgment and authority to intervene with individuals, families and communities to promote independence, provide support and prevent harm, neglect and abuse. Critical reflection and analysis - Apply critical reflection and analysis to inform and provide a rationale for professional decision-making. Contexts and organizations - Engage with, inform, and adapt to changing contexts that shape practice. Operate effectively within your own organisational frameworks and contribute to the development of services and organisations. Operate effectively within multi-agency and inter-professional settings. Professional leadership - Take responsibility for the professional learning and development of others through supervision, mentoring, assessing, research, teaching, leadership and management. The SWRB believe that having a single agreed-upon framework will have a positive impact on the profession s identity, professional development, workforce planning and recruitment to the profession and will also provide more clarity to service users and the public about what they can expect of social workers. Social Workers will be expected to show these capabilities within each level depending on their experience. This is shown in the following illustration.
6 The Overarching Professional Standards Framework and the capabilities that sit within it have been tested with a wide range of people from the social work sector, including social workers, social work managers, practice educators, academics and workforce development managers. The new College of Social Work is now fully responsible for the Professional Capabilities Framework and the latest version of the PCF is available on their website 13. Different levels of the PCF will be introduced at different times, with the capability statements relevant for admission to social work already included in the recently published guidance on selection and admissions. The statements relevant for the Assisted and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) will be published in Spring 2012 ready for use in the autumn of 2012 as the first cohort of newly qualified social workers enter this level. The capability statements for qualifying programmes will come into effect from 2013, though many programmes are beginning to pilot their use. In many settings, the PCF will be used for appraisal and CPD planning. However the detail of work at higher levels will take place over time and the specification of knowledge required will need to be made for different settings. The PCF will therefore be an evolving document. Standards for Employers and Supervision Framework 14 The Standards for Employers set out the support standards that all employers should meet and are accompanied by a Supervision Framework that sets out the key elements of effective supervision of social workers fulfilling recommendations 6 and 7 from the Social Work Tasks Force s report. Together these intend to ensure that social work professionals can work confidently and competently to help children, adults and families through employers ensuring that they provide a suitable working environment, manageable workloads, regular high quality supervision, access to continuous learning and supportive management systems. Standards for Employers- All employers of social workers should: Have in place a social work accountability framework informed by knowledge of good social work practice and the experience and expertise of service users, carers and practitioners. Use effective workforce planning systems to make sure the right number of social workers, with the right level of skills and experience, are available to meet current and future service demands. Implement transparent systems to manage workload and case allocation to protect service users and practitioners. Make sure social workers can do their jobs safely and have the practical tools and resources they need to practice effectively. Employers should assess risks and take action to minimise and prevent them. Ensure social workers have regular and appropriate social work supervision. Provide opportunities for continuing professional development, as well as access to research and practice guidance. Ensure social workers can maintain their professional registration. Establish effective partnerships with higher education institutions and other organisations to support the delivery of social work education and continuing professional development. Supervision Framework- Supervision should: Improve the quality of decision-making and interventions. 13 College of Social Work, PCF page 14 Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/2010
7 Enable effective line management and organisational accountability. Identify and address issues related to caseloads and workload management. Help to identify and achieve personal learning, career and development opportunities. These proposals have been refined according to feedback both from the sector, service users and carers and in light of the Munro Report which emphasised the importance of supervision and reflective practice. The standards for employers and the supervision framework are now ready for implementation, and the Local Government Association has taken responsibility as the host of the standards and framework. The role of the Reform Board is now to monitor the uptake, track any regional inconsistencies and establish learning points. Continuing Professional Development 15 The framework for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is based on the view that social workers should be continuously developing their practice in order to ensure high quality support for children, adults and families. A new CPD framework (recommendation 9 of the Social Work Task Force Report) aims to create structure and support for social workers to develop throughout their careers. The Framework aims to encourage the regular updating and deepening of knowledge, skills and analytical thinking and develop professional identity and confidence, reducing burnout and increasing retention. Despite there having been a considerable amount of work done recently on developing and promoting postqualifying learning and skills development, including increased amounts of funding, take up has been very low. The Social Work Task Force commented that, CPD is not yet properly valued and supported in all places and organisations and the existing framework is not sufficiently coherent, effective, or widely understood, with weaknesses in choice, flexibility and relevance 16 and Professor Munro mentioned in her report that in practice, the current registration arrangements require a relatively low level of engagement with professional development 17. An awareness of current funding cuts and the time-pressured nature of a social worker s job has therefore been fundamental to the development of a new CPD framework. Feedback from the sector informed the SWRB that a new framework should be simple and flexible in order to make participation easier and more beneficial to social workers. The SWRB set out that a new CPD framework should: Support social workers to maintain and develop minimum standards for re-registration set by the regulatory body, and further develop their professional skills in relation to the Professional Capabilities Framework. Encourage and motivate social workers to improve their practice through a wide range of learning opportunities which are supported by employers and valued locally and nationally. CPD should be based 15 Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/ Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/ As above.
8 on an analysis of each social worker s individual needs, ambitions, career stage and personal learning style. Be underpinned by annual appraisal cycles in which learning and development needs can be identified and achievement recorded. Be simple to access and represent value for money. There should be appropriate opportunities to gain nationally recognised qualifications and accreditation of a range of learning outcomes. At their meeting of 26 May 2011, the Social Work Reform Board agreed these proposals and their transfer to the College of Social Work for further development of the framework. The College has since published a document outlining their work on the CPD Framework, detailing the way in which the framework will operate including: From July 2012 one of the conditions of the re-registration of social workers will not be based on the amount of hours of CPD but on what has been learnt, which each social worker will need to record. Employers will be encouraged to work in partnership with other organisations to provide CPD for their employees. The College of Social Work are currently helping employers and social workers to understand the new CPD framework as part of the Professional Capabilities Framework and have been developing materials to help social workers in recording and reflecting on their CPD activity. They are also setting up Communities of Practice to help those in the sector to keep up to date and share resources. 18 The publicly funded College aims to be a unified voice for social workers but the British Association for Social Workers (BASW) have raised the issue of its state funding, links to the trade union Unison and perceived conflicts of interest. The College and BASW have now hosted talks to resolve these problems and have agreed on a number of issues including the geographical reach of the College and its remit which has led BASW to announce that it will be joining with the College. 19 Social Work Education 20 Changes to social work education seek to ensure that anyone successfully completing an approved programme will meet the standards required for safe and effective practice. The proposed requirements for social work education aim to improve the quality and consistency of the social work degrees that lead to registration as a social worker. These include: More rigorous selection criteria Standards for practice educators An intergrated curriculum framework based on the overarching professional standards framework 18 The Future of CPD, College of Social Work, 5/01/ Community Care- BASW and College article, 23/02/ Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/2010
9 The consistent and substantive involvement of service users and carers in the design and delivery of courses Transparent, targeted and effective regulation These fulfil recommendations 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the SWTF. Currently the General Social Care Council approves all degree courses (and registers and re-registers social workers) but this responsibility will now move to the new Health Professionals Council (HPC) with new requirements in place from April The proposals of the SWRB will act as minimum standards to inform the statutory standards of proficiency that the HPC will develop. The College of Social Work will also hold the learning and development frameworks in order to inform standards for entry to professional training, criteria for placements, the practice educator standards, and the curriculum framework. The proposed reforms include: Improve the calibre of entrant to social work degrees including more information for applicants, more rigorous selection criteria and the possible use of written tests, interviews and group activities and the involvement of employers, service users and carers in the selection process. Practice learning to ensure that students have enough experience of statutory work through specifying the number and length of placements, ensuring that the curriculum taught is sufficiently practice-based and ensuring that placements are of a high quality and that supervision and assessment can take place on these placements. Curriculum development, delivery and regulation to ensure that courses are of sufficient quality, are up to date and informed by the latest knowledge and are developed with the input of employers and service users. The Admissions and Selection Guidance for Universities 21 has now been published and the Curriculum Framework and Practice Learning Guidelines will be released in April. Alongside these changes the Centre for Workforce Intelligence, on instruction from the SWRB, has developed a local authority supply and demand model (recommendation number 14) which will help determine the numbert of social workers that individual local authorities will require, which will feed into the training and recruitment of prospective social workers. This is currently being tested The College of Social Work- Admissions and Selection Guidance for Universities, 12/2011 he%2520selection%2520of%2520students%2520onto%2520social%2520work%2520degree%2520courses%252 0in%2520England(2).pdf&sa=U&ei=XCVzT9-bD4PrOd7B0Uw&ved=0CAQQFjAA&client=internal-udscse&usg=AFQjCNF2T849CYCjFeCa9SqGppAv6k0IKA 22 Community Care, Social Work Supply and Demand article, 17/10/2011
10 Effective Partnership Working 23 The proposals to ensure effective partnerships working show how partnerships between employers and higher education institutions can provide better practice placements for degree students, and continuing professional development for social workers. The SWRB also recognises that effective partnership working will contribute to cost effectiveness and economies of scale at a time of financial constraint and uncertainty. There is currently some very good practice of partnership working in the sector but SWRB also highlighted that there are some areas with very weak or non-existent partnership arrangements and networks. These reforms intend to ensure a national standard of partnership arrangements so that all areas benefit. The Social Work Reform Board (SWRB) proposes a partnership framework between employers and educators across the whole spectrum of education and professional development- the principles can also be extended to partnerships between several HEIs, groups of employers and small clusters of organisations. The following are the principles that will guide effective partnership working between employers and educators 24. These principles will be supported by a series of web-based tools and resources. Agree joint aims and outcomes, and be clear about the responsibilities and contributions of all those involved. Record their agreement in a Memorandum of Co-operation and keep it under regular review Be strongly led at a strategic level, informed by workforce planning and key policy drivers Be based around local, flexible and diverse partnerships, build on existing effective arrangements and ensure the participation of voluntary and independent sector organisations, and service users and carers The HPC will regulate partnerships in line with its Standards of Education and Training (SETs), which will include promoting/monitoring formal arrangements and regular and effective collaboration between Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and placement providers. The College of Social Work has also taken a role in promoting partnership through providing guidance and good practice examples. Looking Forward/Next Steps 25 As the Social Work Reform Programme figure on the 4 th page shows, social work reform still has some way to go before it reaches fruition. Although the SWRB will continue to oversee the reform, with input from the Chief Social Worker, once they are appointed later in 2012, it will be led principally by the sector. The College of Social Work, HPC, LGA, the Centre for Workforce Intelligence and SCIE now own a number of the products created by the process of reform and will be responsible for the immediate and continuous development and updating of the tools. 23 Building a Safe and Confident Future: One year on- Detailed Proposals, 12/ Children s Workforce Development Council- Effective Partnership Working Guide, 11/09/ Social Work Reform Board Newsletter, November %20november% pdf