National social work accreditation consultation

The Department for Education (DfE) is currently in the process of introducing a new national assessment and accreditation system for children and family social workers. This scheme will represent a significant change for the profession. The DfE is currently consulting on its introduction.

When will it happen?

The DfE plans to rollout out the national assessment and accreditation system in 31 pilot councils between 2017 and the end of 2018 (the 31 councils can be found on page 24 of the consultation document: West Sussex is NOT one of them). It expects it to be rolled out across all of England by the end of 2020.

The government’s rationale for the accreditation system is that it “will provide, for the first time, a consistent way of providing assurance that child and family social workers, supervisors and leaders have the knowledge and skills for effective practice.”

What will it mean?

All children and family social workers who carry out these services will have to be accredited:

  • making decisions about accepting a referral into children’s social care;
  • leading s.47 enquiries;
  • holding case responsibility for children in need and looked after children;
  • carrying out statutory assessments of children in need, looked after children and family members, prospective and approved foster carers and adopters or plans related to private court proceedings;
  • making, implementing and reviewing statutory plans;
  • holding supervisory responsibility for foster carers; and
  • approving and reviewing prospective and approved foster carers.

Social workers who hold the following responsibilities will have to be accredited as practice supervisors:

  • supervising child and family social workers carrying out the above actions;
  • chairing child protection conferences;
  • acting as Independent Reviewing Officer or a Children’s Guardian; and carrying out designated officer actions (in respect of allegations of abuse against those who work with children).

What does UNISON think?

UNISON has a number of reservations about the system. We do not think it is a priority for the profession, given the range of long standing problems that are preventing social workers doing their job to the best of their ability, such as high caseload levels, growing demand and a lack of resources. We are concerned social workers will not receive the necessary levels of support to help them through the process and that it will help to further split the profession as there are currently no firm plans for adult social workers to become accredited.

Give us your views!

We are keen to represent the views of our members in our response to the consultation. The short consultation document can be read here. It consists of ten questions which can be found on pages 26-35 of the document.

Please email your views to by Friday 24 February.

We encourage you to send in your views on the following questions in particular:

  • If a social worker fails the test, do you agree that it should be left to employer discretion to decide when a social worker is endorsed for reassessment?
  • Should periodical re-accreditation be expected once a social worker has gained accreditation, to ensure that their knowledge and skill level is maintained?