National Organization for Practice
Teaching Conference
4th July 2011
Vision or mirage?
Emerging themes from the ongoing
work of the Social Work Reform Board
Hilary Tompsett, RSW
Head of Social Work, Kingston University
(Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee),
Vice Chair General Social Care Council
Chair, Education Working Group, Social Work Reform Board
“When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water…..”
Who will be there for stand up for Social Work?
Key Questions for today
• In the current context, where are developments in the
reform of the social work profession going?
• What will be the impact of the ‘troubled water’ - financial
cuts, latest reviews and an uncertain future?
• Will the reforms proposed solve the problems the social
work taskforce were addressing?
• What changes are actually proposed?
• How will all this affect you?
• What influence can you have?
Outline of presentation
• Brief review of the Social Work Reformsbackground, progress and next steps planned
• Consideration of emerging proposals, the One Year
On Report, and the changing landscape
• Recent events and reports (Munro), current issues,
and direction of the moment
• Finally - what part can we play in influencing the SW
reforms and the future? – risks and opportunities.
The Social Care Workforce and Carersfocus on Social Work profession
(and 15,000
Context and reasons for reform 2008-10
• Child fatalities and service concerns:
Death of Baby Peter Connolly (2007) reported Autumn 2008
Practitioners: support in the workplace not always there to enable them
to do a good job
• Concerns about social work education expressed by:
Employers: variability in social work graduates (employability?) and
some courses
HEIs: variability in employer engagement with initial social work
Students: difficulties in ensuring “statutory placements” - resulting in
limited experiences
Newly qualified social workers: feeling variably prepared for the jobs
they’re expected to do – expectations high
• Profession does not have a voice and is misunderstood
• Whole system of reform is needed - “nuts and bolts review”.
Comments on the profession and social
work education at the time
• “Why are we where we are now?”
(Barry Sheerman, Chair, House of Commons Select Committee 2009)
• Social work agencies don’t want to provide
placements: Teachers don’t say this (Sheerman 2009)
• Why is there no consensus on PQ? “…Sounds like a
recipe for not getting a coherent profession”
(Fiona Mactaggart, MP, Select Committee 2009)
• “Social Workers can be supervised by a non-Social
Worker? Medics would never agree to that”
(Vice Chancellor, University of X,
UUK Seminar on Social Work Education 21st May, 2009)
Summary of progress so far..
• Jan 2010: Social Work Reform Board (SWRB) set up - chaired
by Moira Gibb, with 20 representatives of stakeholder
organisations after SWTF Report (Dec 2009)
• March 2010: (Labour) Government Implementation plan - a clear
“route map” (phased, with milestones):
“A ten year commitment with concerted action over the next 5
years in particular” - short term action “right now”; £200 million
for 2010/11 and £48 million capital funding promised…
• June 2010: £23 million soc work improvement fund released, but
other funds “to be reviewed”…
• Autumn 2010: working actively to explore ideas, feasibility and
develop evidenced options papers for consultation with sector
• Dec 2010 ‘One Year On Report’ - Consultation ended 31.3.11.
Children England
NHS Confederation
Association of SW Professors
Universities UK
College of Social Work
Service users
A National Voice
Princess Royal Trust
for Carers
Shaping Our Lives
Delivery orgs
Skills for Care
Employers’ Reference Group
Social Workers’ Reference Group
Career development
working group
Service users and carers
working group
Assessed &
Supported Year in
Licence to practise
Career structure
Frontline Managers
Calibre of entrants
Practice learning
Professional standards
Employers’ standard
Working group
Supply & demand
The National Reform Programme recommended
by the Social Work Task Force 2009
A Phased Approach to Reform
Clear relationship to standards informing education,
employment etc
A Clear Career Structure with Clear
Expectations at Key Points
* Graduate Social Worker completing
an assessed first year in employment
Entry criteria
“A clear career structure, with key expectations at key points”
Building a safe, confident future, SWTF
Continuum of professional development
Skilled, flexible professionals, able to respond to change.
Advanced beginner
People meeting entry
criteria, including:
Social Work Students
graduate entrants
career changers
school leavers
social care workers
foundation degree
- Bachelors degree
- Masters degree
Different specialisms
à Different settings
à Different roles
Social Workers
Over time developing
proficiency, expertise, and
specialisms through academic
(Masters/Doctorate) and
practice routes (ASWP,
AMHP, specialist
qualifications and practice)
Developing knowledge, skills,
analytical and critical thinking,
research mindedness.
Increasing and deepening confidence,
competence, specialist knowledge and skills,
active research, leadership, management,
practice education.
CPD throughout a practitioners
career; formal study, supervision,
reflection on practice, in-house
training, action learning, and
practitioner researcher.
Building a Safe and Confident Future:
One Year On – Anniversary Report and
first 5 reforms
• An overarching professional standards framework
(Professional Capabilities Framework, PCF)
• Standards for Employers and Supervision Framework
• Principles to underpin a CPD framework
• Proposed requirements for social work education
• Proposals for effective partnership
(SWRB, 2010)
Proposals to be published in the summer:
Assessed and supported year in employment & Supply and demand model
Professional capabilities framework
• Aim is to provide a single comprehensive set of
expectations of social workers at each stage of their career
• Framework proposes nine capabilities, relevant regardless
of level of experience
• The PCF will link to:
•Entry requirements, levels of placement, initial
•Performance appraisal/pay and grading structures
• Forms the main stages of national social work career
• Capabilities agreed, elements under development
Standards for employers and
supervision framework
• Sets out the support social workers should expect
from employers
• Establishes clear national requirements for supervision
• Responsibility of employers to
• put in place conditions in which social workers can
work confidently and competently to improve
• provide a suitable working environment with
manageable work loads, regular high quality
supervision, access to CPD and supportive
What are the eight standards?
• Social work accountability framework
• Effective workforce planning
• Transparent systems for workload management
• Tools and resources for effective practice, minimising
• Regular and appropriate supervision
• Opportunities for CPD
• Support professional registration
• Effective partnerships for social work education
New coherent and effective CPD framework
• Simple, accessible, portable
• Based on PCF to provide consistent/standardised
learning objectives
• A hybrid approach with an academic core and non
academic learning from range of activities (accredited
and non-accredited)
• National recording system through performance
• Opens up new thinking about responsibility and
• Four principles unpin the proposals – for further
What are the four principles?
Continuing Professional Development should:
• Support social workers to maintain and develop
minimum standards for re-registration
• Encourage and motive social workers to improve
practice through a wide range of learning
opportunities, based on analysis of individual needs,
ambition, career stage and learning style
• Be underpinned by annual appraisal cycle and
• Be simple to access, value for money and with
opportunities for qualification and accreditation
Improving the quality and consistency of
the social work degree
• Suite of proposals to improve the learning experiences of
students and result in graduates better prepared to meet the
demands and complexity of social work
– Improving Calibre of entrants – guidance spring/summer
– New arrangements for Practice Learning – guidance
spring/summer 2011
– Continuing work on content and delivery of the Curriculum
– New Curriculum Framework based on the PCF and
guidance ready for consultation by Sept 2011, published
April 2012 /adopted Sept 2013
Proposals for calibre of entrants
Written test for all
Individual interview
Group exercises
Agreed UCAS/A’ level points
English language assessment
Basic skills; English, Maths and IT
Continuing involvement of employers and people
who use services
Proposals for new practice learning
2 placements: 1st 70 days and 2nd 100 days –
across the country
30 days to be used flexibly for skills development
Practice learning curriculum including statutory
interventions for final placement
All students to be assessed by qualified and
experienced social workers with Practice Educator
Effective partnership working
• A partnership framework between employers and educators
across whole spectrum of education and professional
• Practice placements
• Supply & demand
• Aim is to build on existing partnerships - local, flexible and
• Able to respond to future change
• Introduction of formal written agreements
What next?
Test sites have been trying out proposals
• Views being collated on proposals: will they improve
learning and/or practice experience of social workers
at all stages of their career, considering impact of
funding constraints? Report on Feedback in July
• SWRB hope to transfer ownership of the PCF,
curriculum guidance for initial training, CPD framework
to the College of Social Work (standards); the Health
Professions Council (regulator)
Current/recent events impacting on the
social work reform programme
• Government, policy and priorities:
deregulation and localization, DH vision for Adult Care,
personalization, ‘Big Society’, volunteers, new ways of working…
• Munro Review - Announced 10th June 2010:
“..will build on the work of the Social Work Taskforce though the
review may refine the future direction of this work” (Gove 2010).
Reports: Oct 2010 “thinkpiece”, Feb 2011 Interim, Apri 2011 Final
• Developing role for new College of Social Work:
Interim Chairs/Board appointed: interest in PCF, ASYE sign off,
CPD and Practice Learning funding – high expectations,
convergence with BASW?
• Spending cuts, reduced HE funding, bursary review
• Health and Social Care Bill: a new regulator:
transfer of functions from GSCC to HPC (HCPC) (DH 2011)
The current
The future
So what does the future look like to you and
how will you respond?
• A vision of hope, integration and planning?
Re-professionalization of social work, a strong voice for social
work, higher levels of satisfaction for social workers, better
services for service users and carers…
• A mirage – with no certainties and all illusion?
Social worker posts disappear, Social work fees go up,
Bursaries removed after consultation due to lack of response,
SW student applications down….
Bands of “volunteers” are recruited (Loughton, 2010) to
support families and protect children
Social workers lose interest in the Reforms – they are seen as
irrelevant in the current context
A profession in crisis or facing an important
“ ..A watershed moment for social work- and one that must
be seized”.
(Balls et al, 2009)
“Stumbling towards oblivion or discovering new horizons?”
(Dominelli 1996)
“The work of the Social Work Taskforce and the Social
Work Reform Board are key to improving social work. The
newly formed College of Social Work will play a central
role in developing the profession’s ability to improve its
level of expertise” (Munro, 2011, p 133)
The Munro Review was to consider…
“ social workers and all those involved in child protection
can be better helped to handle uncertainty – how they can be
assisted in making appropriate evidence-based assessments
and interventions that will be more likely to protect vulnerable
children” (1.42)
“..why previous reforms to the performance and accountability
framework have not secured a culture..that sufficiently
promotes learning and development..” (2.46)
“… the need for a practice and policy framework which
acknowledges the complexity of the social work task, the
emotional and intellectual demands on individuals and the
central importance of critical reflection” (3.7)
October 2010 First Report, January 2011 Interim Report,
April 2011 “Final Report with solutions”! (Gove, 2010)
Emerging from Interim Report (2011)..
• Principles (p 19): A strong child protection system is…
Multi professional, multi-agency, requiring all who work with children,
young people and families to consider the effectiveness of their work;
Sufficiently flexible, with space for professional judgement, to meet
variety of need, complexity, uncertainty and risk;
Learning and adaptive, driven by knowledge of theory and research
• Shared learning & accountability (ch 5) will include:
Multi agency training and learning;
Methods of learning from practice through case reviews - a multiagency learning process;
A systems approach to learning from Serious Case Reviews;
Revising Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010)
Munro Final Report recommended..
• SWRB’s PCF to “incorporate capabilities for child and family
Social Work and explicitly inform social work qualification
training, postgraduate professional development and
performance appraisal” (6)
• Employers and HEIs to work together to prepare students for
child protection challenges - high quality practice placements,
approved practice settings, teaching organizations, student
units (12)
• Encourage professional judgement, less prescription for
national approaches, IT, or assessment forms (1) and more
support for “evidence based ways of working” (13)
• Government to appoint Chief Social Worker for social work
practice advice (15)
But could this mean?..
• Munro report promotes children’s social work
• All students have to have a final child care
• Adults and mental health social work decline
• Children’s social workers feel strengthened to assert
themselves, but are fewer in number and hold more
critical roles/complex cases
• College is supported by some social workers..
BASW/College difficulties alienates politicians, social
workers, service users and carers, and the public
• Fragmentation of the profession looms…
Or will this happen?
• Social Workers respond to the One Year On Reform
Proposals, Munro Review & the bursary consultations, social
work seen as a strategically important profession for these
straitened times, bursaries are maintained for Social Workers
• Registered social workers celebrate the establishment of a
professional College, join with enthusiasm, and share good
practice with each other: BASW and the College do merge..
• Munro inspires all Social Workers & restores confidence in
professional judgement - numbers of professional social
worker posts may go down, but quality of work and pride
increases - a chief Social Worker champions all social work?
• Reform programme is adopted by the Social Work community
who make it work.
Because there is a future that we can create
Social Work has always been a dynamic organic
profession, adapting to new circumstances and contexts.
As social workers, we can:
• remember why we came into social work: principles of
social justice (Ferguson, 2007) and “the relationship at
the heart/centre of social work practice” (Wilson, Ruch,
Lymbery & Cooper, 2008)
• respond to the consultations/testing of Reform proposals
• support and join the voice for the profession (College).
Noone forgets a good social worker, practice educator or
manager – be one,
and be proud of the profession you belong to.
We can be the bridge over troubled water
“I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down” (Garfunkel, 1970)
References 1
Balls Ed, Burnham Andy, Lammy David (2009) Letter to Social Workers
Dec 1st 2009 – ‘Building a safe, confident future’ (DCSF/DH/BIS)
DH (2011) Health and Social Care Bill London: HMSO
Dominelli L (1996) Deprofessionalizing Social Work: anti-oppressive
practice, competencies and post-modernism, British Journal of Social
Work, Vol 26, Issue 2, pp 153-175
Ferguson Harry, (2007) Reclaiming Social Work : Challenging NeoLiberalism and Promoting Social Justice, London: Sage
Gibb Moira, (2009) Facing the Task Interim Report of the Social Work
Taskforce, July 2009
Gibb Moira (2009) ‘Building a safe, confident future ; Report of the Social
Work Task Force (DCSF publication)
Gove Michael (2010) Letter to Professor Eileen Munro re Munro Review of
Child Protection, 10th June 2010
House of Commons Select Committee Proceedings (2009), Children and
Families Social Work, London HMSO
HM Government (2010) Building a Safe and Confident Future:
Implementing the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force
References 2
Loughton, Tim (2010) Letter to Moira Gibb, Chair SW Reform Board re the
Munro Review of Child Protection, 10th June 2010
Munro E (2010) The Munro Review of Child Protection – Part one Systems
Munro E (2011) The Munro Review of Child Protection – Interim Report :
The Child’s Journey
Munro E (2011) The Munro Review of Child Protection – Final Report : A
child-centred system
all available at:
SWRB (2010) Building a safe and confident future: One Year on
Wilson K, Ruch G, Lymbery M and Cooper A (2008) Valuepack:Social
Work: An Introduction to Contemporary Practice, London: Longman
Social Work Reform Board – information available at:
College of Social Work – information available at:
Enquiries: [email protected]

Emerging themes and issues from the ongoing work