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Completing the annual monitoring return 2021

Guidance to help education providers understand what they need to do to comply with our annual monitoring process.

Guidance for completing annual monitoring

Last updated: 28 September 2021


It is mandatory for education providers to complete an annual monitoring form every year (for each course).

This guidance explains:

  • what you need to do to comply with our annual monitoring process,
  • how we can support you.

It also provides detail on how to complete the form and our data collection requirements.

Please note: You must contact us as soon as possible if anything about the requirements is unclear. If you do not complete the form and provide the necessary information, we could decide to:

  • set conditions on approval of the course, or
  • withdraw approval of the course.

This is in accordance with rules 12, 13 and 14 of the education and training rules.

Why we have annual monitoring

Every year, we review approved social work courses. This is to make sure they continue to meet our current education and training standards.

The annual monitoring process enables us to continue to build a picture of the social work profession from education to post qualifying. It supports our strategic ambition to raise the standards of social work education and training provision.

We appreciate your cooperation.

What you need to do

As part of the annual monitoring process, you must:

  • complete and return the annual monitoring form
  • provide supporting evidence to show that your courses meet the new standards.

View the new education and training standards (2021).

You should be able to answer the questions in the form using the information which you routinely gather for approved courses. For example, information on the internal management and quality assurance of an approved course.

You must also provide:

  • A current position on any changes made to courses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Details about how your course is meeting the new standards in terms of placement capacity and provision.

Please note: You must submit a separate form for each course you deliver.


You must complete the form and provide the information we need by 5pm on Friday 26 November 2021.

How to get the form

Your education quality assurance officer will send you the form (as a Word document). You can also download the form on our website.

Download the form

How to complete the form (step by step guide)

Section 1: Course provider and course details

In section 1, please identify and update any details about the courses you deliver.

When we ask about the number of staff involved in delivering the course, we also want to know about their roles. These can include experts by experience.

You may wish to provide separate details or an anonymised structure chart. Please make sure any additional documents reference the question they relate to.

Where we refer to ‘registered’ professionals (involved in delivering the course), we mean professionals who:

  • hold registration with one of the UK regulators, and
  • practise in England with a reciprocal agreement.

We appreciate that ad-hoc numbers may be estimates. We still need you to provide this information.

Section 2: Declaration

Section 2 is a declaration to confirm that:

  • the course meets our education and training standards, and
  • those who successfully complete the course meet the standards required to apply to join the Social Work England register.

By completing the declaration, you agree to report any recent and potential significant changes to course provision to us.

If you need to make changes as a result of completing the annual monitoring form, please follow our course change process. You can also contact your education and quality assurance officer.

Section 3: COVID-19 impact and recovery

You must provide information about how each course has changed (and continues to change) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You should provide information in the following areas:


We would like to know whether you have met your approved recruitment numbers and:

  • if these are lower or higher than anticipated, and
  • where there is a variance, what the reason is.

We would also like to know whether your agreed recruitment figures will change for the 2022 to 2023 academic year.

Placement provision

We would like to know what arrangements you made to adapt placements.

What (if any) support processes have you put in place for students and practice educators who are due to start placements during this annual monitoring cycle?

Have you reconfigured placements to adapt to the current situation, for example by:

  • increasing work from home
  • reducing the number of placement days
  • increasing reflective practise exercises.
Learning and teaching

How are you delivering your course during this annual monitoring year?

If possible, we would like to understand the different models of blended learning that are being delivered. 

Please give details on the proportion of the course that you will deliver:

  • in a virtual ‘away from site’ environment
  • in a classroom
  • using simulated examples.

If you adjusted assessment methods, what measures will you continue to use in the new academic year?

How are you ensuring that learning outcomes are still being met as a result of the changes?

Do you anticipate making any of the adjustments permanent changes?

Any other relevant areas

Are there any other areas of your course delivery that have changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Section 4: Placements

We have included these questions so we can understand your placement provision in relation to the new standards. 

Our new standards require you to give each student at least 200 days experience (including up to 30 skills days) in a practice setting. 

Continuous course approval is also reliant upon all students having placements. We know that the pandemic may have affected placement capacity in some regions and that it might be more difficult to meet our standards. We also know that some providers may be looking at innovative new models for attendance at practice placements.

To help us to support the sector, we’re keen to understand how placements are being developed and delivered during the pandemic. We also want to understand any associated challenges.

Statutory placements

A statutory placement should:

  • take place within a statutory local authority setting (or settings delivering delegated statutory functions on behalf of the local authority), and
  • require students to carry out tasks that involve high-risk decision making and legal interventions.

Statutory placements should involve a sufficient amount of statutory social work tasks on either:

  • section 17 and section 47 cases (under the Children Act 1989), or
  • delivering requirements of the Care Act 2014 and Mental Capacity Act 2005.

 They should also require students to update case records under appropriate supervision.

We define ‘high-risk decision making’ as decisions which balance care vs control and rights vs risks. They also involve appropriate knowledge, understanding and application of the law in relation to areas such as:

  • mental health sections
  • deprivation of liberty
  • best interests assessments
  • child protection planning, and
  • court proceedings.

By ‘sufficient numbers of statutory social work tasks’, we mean that students must be involved in enough statutory tasks to enable them to experience and understand the realities of high volume, high-risk work within a statutory environment.

We do not set a minimum number of statutory tasks. Instead, we will consider this within the overall context of the placements you provide.

You should reference the definitions above when responding to any questions relating to statutory placements.

You can read more about this in our practice placements guidance.

All students must undertake at least one placement which meets this definition of a statutory placement. All placements should help prepare students for the statutory aspects of social work.

Simulated and virtual placements

Our questions include references to simulated and virtual placements. Please consider our definition below when answering the questions:

We define a simulated placement as ‘‘imitating the conditions of a live social work placement’. For example, this may:

  • involve the use of actors or roleplay fulfilling the role of a person involved with social work
  • be a replay of a previous casework scenario or creation of a new scenario (but not using persons currently in receipt of social services).

We define virtual placements as ‘real life’ placements that take place online and either partially or fully remotely. This includes people involved with social work as part of a current caseload.

We are interested to know more about the scale and risk assessment of these growing models of placement provision. This is to help us ensure that you’re able to continue to meet our rigorous standards in this area. It will also enable us to adapt our regulation, if necessary.

We also want to know if you have developed any contingency arrangements for students who are not able to complete the placement as defined above.

Practice educators

Although we do not currently regulate practice educators, their involvement in the delivery of practice placements is critical for student experience and outcomes.

We are interested in the availability of practice educators as an aspect of our education and training standards 2.3, 2.6 and 3.2.

Section 5: Questions and contact details

Please complete and return your forms via email by Friday 26 November 2021 at 5pm.

We have a dedicated education and quality assurance team who can assist with any questions. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.

You can contact us at [email protected]

Section 6 and 7

Section 6 explains how we will use the information you share. Section 7 is our privacy notice.

How to submit the form

Please submit the completed form and information via email to: [email protected]

What happens next

Once we have reviewed your annual monitoring forms, we will decide whether:

  • there is enough evidence to confirm that the course continues to meet our standards, or
  • you need to provide more evidence (because the evidence you provided suggests that the course may not meet our standards, or
  • we need to do an approval visit to consider ongoing approval of the course.

Sometimes we may ask you to voluntarily provide further information related to your response. Any voluntary data you provide will not affect your approval.

We will make it clear in our communication whether the request for more information is required or voluntary.

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