Social Work England announced a new approach to social work education and training in England, “so that millions of people who rely on social workers can be assured of consistent support and protection.”

As the regulator, Social Work England has a unique overview of the national picture of social work education and training – including the inspection of over 300 courses for trainee social workers. Whilst its work with universities and other education providers has highlighted some excellent practice, it wants to address challenges they face. These include the complex landscape of frameworks, accessing and supporting students on placements and consistency in newly qualified years of practice.

The new approach sets out the areas which Social Work England believes will make the most impact on preparing new social workers for their vital roles. The ultimate vision is for all social workers to qualify equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours to meet the professional standards, demonstrate the values of the profession, register to use the protected title of social worker and practise safely and effectively. It’s a long-term plan, which will be developed in full consultation with the public, profession, educators, students and people with lived experience of social work.

The first public consultation is on the creation of new guidance for ‘readiness for professional practice’. Launched today, it is asking for views on the knowledge, skills and behaviours that social work students should be able to demonstrate by the end of their qualifying course. Education providers, students, people with lived experience and employers can attend a consultation event or give their views online by Wednesday 21 September.

Sarah Blackmore, executive director of professional practice and external engagement at Social Work England, said:

“Our new approach to social work education and training sets out the areas we will focus on to have the most impact on preparing new social workers for their important roles. Our aim is to reduce complexity and provide stability, clarity and consistency for social work educators, students and employers. We will work with the sector in making these changes and the activity we have set out will likely span the breadth of our next 3-year corporate cycle as we enter our next phase of specialist regulation.

We see many excellent education providers boosting the workforce with talented new social workers. Our plans will ensure all graduates have an absolutely clear understanding of the values underpinning social work before they start work. This is essential to improve the public’s confidence in newly qualified social workers and the profession as a whole.”