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New students, new social workers, new standards

With the start of the new academic year, we launch the new education and training standards, which we’ll use to assess over 80 social work education and training providers across England.

New students, new social workers, new standards

9/6/2021 9:00:35 AM

With the start of the new academic year we launch the new education and training standards, which we’ll use to assess over 80 social work education and training providers across England.

September is often associated with new starts, whether you are a student beginning your training as a social worker on one of 292 approved courses in England, or a graduate joining the register of social workers in England for the first time. For Social Work England it’s a busy and optimistic time as we welcome thousands of new graduates onto the register.

It’s a welcome time of year for a sector constantly challenged by recruitment and marks the culmination of huge efforts by education and training providers to attract students in the first place and then ensure they meet our professional standards on qualifying. We recognise the efforts of everyone involved in producing the next generation of social workers, especially over the past 18 months.

The new education and training standards are designed to ensure that the social workers of tomorrow can give the very best support and protection to the public. We are committed to improving the quality and consistency of social work education and training and have worked in partnership with providers, students, social workers and people with lived experience to develop them.

We know there have been huge changes in higher and further education over the past few years and we are quality assuring courses being delivered in a challenging context, and the nature of study and the student experience continues to change. Our education quality assurance activities are planned with this in mind, and we favour a partnership approach with everyone involved in the delivery of a course. The standards provide flexibility for various routes into social work and recognise that one size doesn’t fit all.

Most importantly, the standards require people with lived experience of social work to have more input into the design, governance and development of courses. Social Work England works closely with people with lived experience of social work across many of its functions and it’s hugely important that people using social services help educate the educators. We encourage innovative and creative approaches to course development, but practice must be embedded and students must be prepared for the real world, within reason, as well as for the exam hall.

The new standards replace the 2019 standards, which were largely based on those from the previous regulator, the Health and Care Professions Council. We postponed last year’s launch due to the pandemic but recognise the ongoing pressures and urge providers to get in touch sooner rather than later with any concerns about how they might meet the standards. We know that there are many outstanding social work courses out there and we’re excited for the first reapproval inspections that start this month.

Everyone in the inspection schedule will have been contacted, but if you have any questions about the new standards, please contact the team at [email protected].

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