At the end of each registration renewal period, we will randomly select 2.5% of social workers for CPD review. This was previously called ‘validation’.
CPD review guidance
Last updated: 19 December 2022
About this guidance
This guidance is about the continuing professional development (CPD) review process.
For information about recording CPD and our CPD requirements, you should read our CPD guidance.
Who this guidance is for
This guidance may be useful for (all of the following):
- social workers who have been selected for CPD review
- social workers who want to learn more about the CPD review process
- employers of social workers
- CPD assessors
About CPD review
What is CPD review?
Every year, we carry out a review of CPD submitted by social workers. We do this to check that social workers are meeting the CPD requirements  and upholding professional standard 4.
Usually, we start the CPD review process in January. It takes approximately 3 months, concluding in March.
[note 1] Social Work England (registration) Rules 2019, rule 53
Why does Social Work England do a CPD review?
Upholding social work regulations
As the specialist regulator for social workers, our purpose is to protect the public. One of the ways we do this is by setting professional standards, and ensuring social workers uphold these.
When social workers renew their registration each year, they confirm that they comply with the legislative requirement to meet the professional standard on continuing professional training and development, as set out under regulation 13(4)(a) of the Social Workers Regulations 2018.
Reviewing a sample of social workers’ CPD gives us assurance that social workers are meeting regulation 13(4) of the Social Workers Regulations 2018.
Learning about the sector
Doing a CPD review each year enables us to learn more about what CPD social workers are doing. It helps us to identify key themes, and gather data about learning and development in the profession.
We use our learning from the CPD review to help shape future improvements. It also informs policy development.
How are social workers selected for review?
In January, our online system randomly selects 2.5% of social workers on the register for CPD review.
We will exclude some people from CPD review. This includes social workers who:
- have specific sanctions on their practice on 1 December, as a result of fitness to practise proceedings. This includes social workers with (any of the following):
- conditions of practice
- interim conditions of practice
- interim suspension
- joined the register (through registration or restoration) between 1 September and 30 November. This is because they will have recently demonstrated their knowledge and experience
Who does the CPD review?
A team of independent assessors carry out the CPD review each year.
We recruit the assessors under our appointment rules. We appoint assessors with experience of working in quality assurance in social work (or in a similar setting).
The assessors are a mix of lay people and social workers.
To ensure a robust and consistent approach, all assessors do regular mandatory training.
The CPD review process
What happens if you are selected
If you are selected for review, we will send you an email explaining the next steps. We will send this to the email address we hold on the Register.
You do not need to do anything if you are selected. We will not ask you for any additional CPD or information. This is because we review the CPD you have already recorded on your online account during the previous registration year.
We will extract an anonymised CPD record from your online account. This will include all the CPD you have recorded during the registration year (and any supporting documents you have uploaded).
We will then supply this to an assessor for them to review.
How do the assessors review CPD?
The assessor will look at your CPD in the order that you recorded it. They will use all the information available in your CPD record to assess whether you are meeting the CPD requirements.
The assessor will ask 2 questions when reviewing your CPD record. These are (both of the following):
- Is there a clear description of the impact that the CPD activity has had on the social worker’s practice? (In at least one of the pieces of CPD)
- Has the social worker discussed their CPD with a peer? (In at least one of the pieces of CPD)
The assessors will accept your CPD if they can answer ‘yes’ to both of these questions.
If the answer to one or both questions is ‘no’ (in all pieces of CPD recorded), your CPD will enter moderation. For more information on the outcomes of review, please refer to the next section of this guidance.
Question 1: impact on practice
Professional standard 4 (the standard about CPD) has 6 parts. Standard 4.6 is about reflection.
Standard 4.6: Reflect on my learning activities and evidence what impact continuing professional development has on the quality of my practice.
If you are not currently practising, the assessor will look for description of future impact. This means you have reflected on the impact the CPD activity will have when you return to practice.
We recognise that many registered social workers do not directly provide social work support to the public. For example, you may work in academia or management. In this case, the assessor will look for a description of the impact that the CPD has on those you work with. For example, you might describe how you shared your learning with your students or colleagues.
Question 2: peer reflection
Peer reflection means you have discussed your CPD with a peer, your manager, or another professional. The assessor will look for evidence that you have done peer reflection.
You can read further information on our website:
Outcomes of the review
If the assessor answers ‘yes’ to both assessment questions, your CPD will be accepted. This means the assessor has confirmed you have met the CPD requirements.
We will email you to inform you that your CPD has been accepted. The assessor will not be able to provide any feedback on accepted CPD. This is because the activity is quality assurance for us as a regulator, and we have no regulatory duty to provide feedback.
If the assessor answers ‘no’ to one or both questions, we will pass your CPD record on to a second assessor. The second assessor will then do what we call ‘moderation’. This means they assess your CPD again, using the same 2 questions. Moderation is independent, meaning the second assessor will not be influenced by the first assessor’s review. We will not tell the second assessor that this is a moderation, so they will treat it like any other review.
We will not notify you if your CPD is being moderated. Instead, we will notify you when this process is complete.
If the second assessor answers ‘yes’ to both assessment questions, your CPD will be accepted. We will email you to inform you that your CPD has been accepted.
Feedback and include in next review
If the second assessor also answers ‘no’ to one or both questions during moderation, we will include you in the next review.
This means that you will automatically be selected for CPD review again (if you apply to renew your registration) in the following January. The assessors will review the CPD you have recorded during the previous registration year.
We will email you to inform you of the outcome of the review, and let you know that you will be included in the next review. You will not need to provide any further information. We will also share feedback from the first assessor.
The assessor will provide clear feedback on why the CPD was not accepted. They will also explain how you could improve your CPD. You should reflect on this feedback and implement it when you record CPD in future.
If the assessor has concerns about the CPD that has been recorded, they will inform the CPD quality assurance manager. The CPD quality assurance manager will refer the concern to the relevant team (where appropriate). For example, if the assessor (any of the following):
- has concerns about the validity of the CPD
- identifies a fitness to practise or safeguarding concern in the CPD
- identifies personal data about a third party in the CPD
- becomes aware of a potential conflict of interest during the review
Where there are concerns that the information provided is not CPD relating to social work, this can be considered under our removal from the register powers, Regulation 14(1)a of The Social Workers Regulations (2018): A registered social worker's entry must be removed from the register where the regulator is satisfied that their registration was fraudulently procured or incorrectly made, and determines to remove their entry from the register.
Fitness to practise or safeguarding concerns
Our assessors may identify information that might call into question a social worker’s fitness to practise. If so, this will be referred to the triage team for consideration under the fitness to practise process.
If the assessors identify information that raises a safeguarding concern, this will be referred to our safeguarding lead.
Our assessors may identify a CPD record which contains personal data about a third party. If so, we may take steps to anonymise the information in the social worker’s online account.
When this happens, we will inform the social worker of the action taken. We will also advise them of our requirement to anonymise all CPD. The assessor will continue to assess the record.
Conflict of interest
In some cases, an assessor may become aware of a potential conflict of interest during a review. For example, they may realise they know the social worker, or have a relationship with the employer of the social worker. If this happens, they will immediately inform the CPD quality assurance manager. We will then re-allocate the social worker’s CPD record to a different assessor.
We rarely make the outcome of a review public. However, in some cases, the assessors will raise a concern that the CPD quality assurance manager will refer either to the registration or fitness to practise teams for further consideration. If so, these teams may publish the outcome of the review or refer to it in their processes. This includes (potentially) the adjudicators referring to it in their decision-making.
19 December 2022
- reviewed for accessibility and readability
- updated to reflect changes to CPD form and requirements
- 'advice given' outcome renamed to 'feedback and include in next review'
24 August 2021
- Changes made: clearer information included about which social workers will be excluded from the CPD review process.
10 June 2021
- Changes made: renamed from 'Validation assessment' to 'CPD review'
First published: 29 November 2019