The General Social Care Council (GSCC) was established on 1 October 2001. Born out of the Care Standards Act 2000, it took 25 years of campaigning for the GSCC to come into being. Our creation came at a time when the country was coming to terms with the death of Victoria Climbie, a child who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her carers, despite intervention from health and social care professionals. The failure to prevent Victoria’s death, coupled with a desire to professionalise social work, meant the GSCC’s creation was a welcome addition to the social care landscape and the most significant investment in social care for over 30 years.
Our initial aims were to protect the public, act as the guardian of standards for the social care workforce, and improve the standing and status of the profession. One of our original mission statements was that we were to be the champion of social care workers. However, this caused confusion among the sector and the media as to our role in both holding the workforce to account and a body that represented its interests. This confusion arose because, unlike other professions, social workers did not have an effective professional body to act as the voice of the profession. However, in time, we learnt that we needed to be clearer about our essential function. So only more recently, with the emergence of the College of Social Work, has a clear distinction between regulator and professional body been helpfully drawn.
Over 10 years we helped to professionalise social work, putting social workers on a par with other regulated professionals they work alongside, such as teachers, doctors and lawyers. We created England’s first comprehensive register of social workers; upgraded the social work qualifying standard from a two-year diploma to an accredited three-year degree; established a set of standards that all social workers agree to adhere to; set up a conduct process to ensure social workers are held to account if they breach those standards; and ensured that continual training and development was a key part of continuous registration. The main driver for this work was to raise standards in social work and increase public protection.
Looking forward, as we pass the baton to the HPC we wish them the very best in their new role in regulating social work professionals. With a strong College to champion best practice and act as the voice of social work, we are confident that the professionalism of social work will continue and we are proud to have played such a big part in beginning the process.
The full 10-year review will be contained in the GSCC’s Annual Report and Accounts 2011-12, which is due to be published next month and will be available on our website.