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CPD advice for social workers not in direct practice

We recognise that many social workers on our register do not directly offer social work support, or do not have a caseload. This page offers CPD advice for social workers not in direct practice. 

CPD advice for social workers not in direct practice (non-caseholding)

​Last updated: 27 January 2021

We recognise that many social workers on our register do not directly offer social work support, or do not have a caseload. We know that a lot of the important work social workers do every day is not ‘frontline’.

This includes people in workforce development, academics and educators, senior managers, commissioners, and more. It also includes people who are not currently practicing, such as those on a period of leave from work.

If you wish to be a registered social worker, whether you’re currently in employment or not, you must meet the professional standards (including standard 4, CPD) to renew your registration. We ask all social workers to record CPD because we believe it’s a valuable tool for everyone in the profession, not just those directly engaging with the public.

When you take time to record CPD, you reflect on your work and decision-making. This benefits you as a professional and the people around you. It helps you approach situations in a thoughtful way which is grounded in research, reflection, and personal experience.

Read further guidance on recording CPD in your online account.

1. Defining your practice

The CPD form and guidance highlights the importance of reflecting on and improving your practice. However, your practice does not just mean service delivery. It can be defined more broadly as the work or activity you do every day. You can define your practice as:

  • How your work affects social work practice. Consider the influence your work has on social workers who are case holding. How does your work influence service delivery? This can apply to social work lecturers and academics who teach current and future social workers, or managers, whose leadership and strategic oversight are essential to good social work.
  • How you keep up to date with the profession. This can be a useful way to define your practice if you are not currently working, or if you work independently. You can share how you’re keeping up with current affairs and developments in the profession, for example by reading articles or listening to podcasts. Check our website regularly for information about our national offerings such as events and webinars you can take part in.
  • How your life experience impacts your work. You can draw on life experience and consider how this impacts your work, and in turn others around you. For example, if you are currently out of work to care for someone, or due to other personal circumstances like parenthood, this will impact your practice. The perspective you acquire every day through life experience can relate to your practice. You can reflect on things that happen outside of work.

2. How to source feedback

Feedback is always a valuable tool to improve your work. You could ask for feedback on:

  • your leadership (if you are a manager)
  • your teaching (if you are in social work education)
  • service delivery (if you are a commissioner)

If you are a carer or in a voluntary role, you can source feedback from others involved with this, including peers.

Read this page for more guidance on asking for feedback, or read our blog about reflecting on feedback.

3. What supervision looks like

Supervision can look different depending on workplaces and settings. For example, this could be peer supervision, or you could be supervised by another professional such as nurse, counsellor or psychologist.

Supervision does not always need to be ‘top-down’, so if you don’t have a clear manager or supervisor to ask, consider other people you have critical reflection with.

If you are a manager, you can ask for staff appraisals. If you are an independent social worker, you can ask a peer, mentor or someone else in your network.

Read this page for more guidance on supervision.

4. It’s okay not to meet all parts of the standard

We understand that it can be difficult to meet all 8 parts of the CPD standard if you are in a different type of social work role. Please remember it is not mandatory to meet all 8 parts of the standard, as long as you do your best to meet some of them. If you need to, you can just focus on the parts of the standard you feel are achievable in your role.

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