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Social Work Reform Board

Social Work Reform Board. Photo: Pete Zarria

The Social Work Task Force, which reported in December 2009, made a series of recommendations about the future shape of the profession. The government aims to publish an implementation plan at the beginning of March and has established a reform board to advise on what should be in that plan – and to prepare the ground for change by bringing all the key bodies together to help in the delivery of the reforms.

The GSCC sits on the reform board, as well as on all three of the working groups – on education, on career development, and on the employers’ standard. We are identifying where the reforms will require changes to the way we regulate and developing proposals for how that can be done.

We are already developing proposals for a new regime for regulating university social work courses, and we are working with partners to look at the best way to introduce the AYE (assessed year in employment) scheme. Better professional regulation is only one of the ways in which social work can be strengthened – but it does have a key role to play if we are to ensure that the skills, knowledge and values of social work are used to best effect in improving outcomes for people using services. We will need to work closely with the new college of social work to ensure that high standards of practice are spelled out by a body ‘owned’ by social workers themselves – so that GSCC as the regulator can judge allegations of unacceptable practice against the profession’s own standards.

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I am very pleased as a member of the British Association of Social Workers, and a former BASW England Chair, to see that GSCC is referring to "high standards of practice need to be spelled out by a body (the new college of social work) 'owned' by social workers themselves". The ownership is at the very heart of BASW's current referendum of members for the establishment of a College of Social Work, not only in England, but across the UK, with BASW urging all members to vote yes and help raise standards of practice across social work, something all organisations involved in social work should be striving for. The College of Social Work does need to be owned by Social Workers, and needs to be completely independent of Government or Quango control, if it is to stand any chance of success. Otherwise we will just end up with a re-run of all the problems social work has had before with everyone trying to get their little piece of the cake at the expense of our professionalism and, dare I say it, the reason for us being here, our clients/users.

Allan Orrick
15 Mar 2010

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