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Make a change to an existing qualifying social work course

Guidance on how we will process your request for changes to a qualifying social work course.

Make a change to an existing qualifying social work course

Last updated: 20 August 2020

About this guidance

This guidance provides guidance on how Social Work England will process your request for changes to a qualifying social work course. The course must have been previously approved either by another regulator or through our own approval process.

For the purpose of this guidance, we refer to this process as ‘course change’. Separate guidance is available for new courses that have not been previously approved.

This guidance has been written for course providers to explain the steps from the point of making a request to our decision on the course changes.


In our rules, we describe course providers as ‘relevant institutions’ and we use this term throughout this guidance. Throughout the guidance ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ refers to Social Work England. ‘You’ refers to the relevant institution including those involved in leading or managing the course.

We also use verbs such as ‘should’, ‘may’ or ‘could’. In this guidance we use these verbs to make recommendations or to advise on what you can usually expect from our process.

Types of course changes

If you’re making changes to a course, you may need to notify us. You should consider if these changes will affect:

  • how a course meets our standards or
  • how a course appears on our approved list of courses

For example, you should tell us if a change to a course will alter the level of study, curriculum, entry requirements, placement provision, resourcing or management. You should also tell us if your course is planned for closure.

You do not need to contact us if the change is minimal and will not affect how the course meets our standards. If you’re unsure, you should contact us for further guidance.

Making a course change request

You can make a request by sending an email to [email protected] should provide the following information:

  • Contact details (including email address and telephone number of the most appropriate person to talk to about the changes)
  • Details of the course you are looking to change
  • A brief overview of the proposed or potential changes and their purpose
  • Any dates we should be aware of (for example when you would like to make changes to the course and any internal validation dates)
  • Anything else you think would be useful for us to be aware of at this stage

Your request

We’ll review your request and a member of our education quality assurance team will normally contact you within 2 working days. We’ll discuss with you the details of your request and agree next steps. This will give you an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the process and to let us know about anything that might prevent us from progressing the request straight away.

We may advise that, at this stage, the changes to your course are too extensive for our course change process and recommend that your request be progressed as a new course approval. We may also suggest that, if the changes are minor enough, we assess the changes through our annual monitoring process. We will consider all requests for course changes on a case by case basis.

Our officers

The officer will be your main point of contact throughout the course change process. They will also be part of the onsite inspection team if we decide an inspection is necessary to review the changes to your course. The officer will contact you to tell you what information we will need to start our pre-review process.


The officer will issue you with forms for you to fill in to support your course changes. These forms will include a mapping document for you to provide evidence of the changes to your course and how you will continue to meet the education and training standards. We will let you know how we want to receive your documentary evidence and by what date.

Documentary evidence review

The officer will then review all of your documentary evidence and contact you if they have any questions or think something may be missing. If, at this stage, the officer has any concerns about continuing the course change process, they will discuss this with you.

This might happen if the officer feels that our new course approval process would be more appropriate, that the review is premature, or if there is not enough evidence to continue.

The officer will let you know the outcome of this initial review. When we’re satisfied that we have all the documentary evidence we need we’ll assign the relevant inspectors.

If the changes to your course are minimal, we may only appoint one inspector to review the documentary evidence or even consider the change as part of the annual monitoring process. We will decide this on a case by case basis.

When we’re assigning inspectors, we will follow our conflict of interest process. However, when we tell you the names of your inspectors, you should let your office know if you think there’s a conflict of interest.

If we decide to continue progressing your request through our change process, the inspectors will assess the evidence provided. This will include any previous approval, annual monitoring, and change process documentation.

The inspectors will let the officer know if they have any questions that may be able to be answered during the review. If they need further documentary evidence to demonstrate how your course will continue to meet our standards, the officer will contact you. The inspectors and officer will discuss their findings and conclusions and then make a recommendation about your course to us.

If sufficient documentary evidence is provided to demonstrate how your course will continue to meet our standards, we will write to you confirming that the changes to your course have been approved. The inspectors may recommend an onsite inspection to confirm how your course will continue to meet our standards.

If the inspectors make this recommendation, the officer will discuss this with you, offer further guidance and provide you with the relevant forms to complete. Wherever possible, we’ll use the same inspectors who have reviewed your changes for the onsite inspection.

After the review


We’ll provide you with a questionnaire following the course change process to give you an opportunity to make any comments before we make our decision.

Consideration by the regulator

The inspectors will then make a recommendation which we will consider when making our decision. The recommendations they can make are that:

  • sufficient evidence has been provided to show that the course meets our standards
  • there is insufficient evident to show how the course meets our standards and an onsite inspection is required, placing conditions on the ongoing approval or
  • there is insufficient evidence to show how the course meets our standards and additional documentary evidence is required

We will contact you when a decision has been made.


If we decide that conditions are appropriate, we will write to let you know:

  • what conditions we have decided to attach to your course
  • how you can demonstrate that you have met or are meeting the conditions
  • the action we’ll take once we decide that the conditions are met
  • the action we’ll take if we decide the conditions are not met

Further information

We’ll continue to review and develop our guidance documents and forms as we move towards the implementation of our 2021 education and training standards.

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