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Our role and legislation

Our role

Every day, social workers support millions of people to improve their chances in life.

Social Work England is a specialist body taking a new approach to regulating social workers in their vital roles. We believe in the power of collaboration and share a common goal with those we regulate—to protect the public, enable positive change and ultimately improve people’s lives. ​ 

Social work is about people. Our purpose is to regulate social workers in England so that people receive the best possible support whenever they might need it in life. We are committed to raising standards through collaboration with everyone involved in social work.

Our rules and standards

Alongside the sector, we’ve created professional and education and training standards in partnership with everyone who has an interest in social work. These standards set out the requirements that we expect social workers and social work courses to meet.

These are specialist to the social work profession and reflect the value and diversity of social work practice and the positive impact it has on people’s lives, families and communities.

We also developed our rules, which set out what people can expect from us across appointments, registration, education and training, and fitness to practise. As a result of our collaborative approach, our rules are robust, evidence based, and reflect the views of professionals.

Our collaboration

From the very beginning and moving forward, we’re committed to our regulation being rooted in the values and principles that underpin the social work profession. Central to our work is collaboration and dialogue with anyone with an interest in social work, from co-producing our organisation and formal consultations on big changes to engaging with social workers to understand trends across the country.

You can find out more about our engagement team

Our history

Social Work England is a non-departmental public body, operating at arm’s length from government. We were established by the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Our central focus is public protection. We have, however, been given the tools to achieve this objective in different ways.

Our secondary legislation – the Social Workers Regulations 2018 – drew on evidence and recommendations for effective professional regulation from numerous places. This includes reform proposals for healthcare regulation, the Law Commissions’ recommendations on health and social care regulation and the Professional Standards Authority’s (PSA) right-touch reform report. 

Last updated: 28 November 2019