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Reflecting on validation assessment

CPD quality assurance manager Andrew highlights feedback from our CPD assessors and top tips on reflecting on your practice

Reflecting on validation assessment

6/24/2021 10:21:06 AM

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential reflection and learning activity. We require social workers to record CPD in their online accounts as part of the registration renewal process. We then review a random sample of these records, to ensure social workers are meeting professional standard 4 (the standard relating to CPD.)

In January 2021, we randomly selected 2.5% of social workers on our register for our first annual validation assessment. The validation assessment offers valuable insight on CPD and was carried out by a team of 10 independent assessors. The assessors were recruited under our appointment rules for their experience of working in quality assurance in social work or in a similar setting. 5 of the assessors are registered social workers.

Writing reflections

Reflection is an essential part of CPD. During validation, the assessors were looking to see a clear description of the impact that the CPD had on practice. You could consider the following points when writing a reflection.

Focus on impact

Think about how the CPD you have done has, or will, positively impact someone you work with. This could be someone you support, or a peer, student, or colleague. Provide clear examples of when you have made, or will make, use of this learning to improve your work, and the tangible benefit this has on others around you. Ideally, discuss with a peer or ask for feedback, and incorporate this into your reflection.

If you are not currently working, you can reflect on how you would like to apply this learning when you begin or return to practice.

Think about how you can improve

Sometimes, the most important reflection and professional growth happens after a challenging or difficult situation. Your CPD is not just about capturing your best moments as a practitioner; it can be a valuable tool to help you work through things and improve. For example, if a situation does not go well, or if you have received feedback that you are unhappy with, consider why this happened. Focus on the learning that you gain from this experience, and describe how you will use this learning to inform and improve your future practice.

Make use of a reflective model

A reflective model can help you break down an event or experience, using clear and manageable steps to structure your reflection. There are many different reflective models available.

  • The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action, Donald Schön, 1983.
  • Gibbs Reflective Cycle, Graham Gibbs, 1998.
  • Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle, David Kolb, 1984.
  • Driscoll Model of Reflection, John Driscoll, 2007.
  • Moon’s Levels of Learning, Jenny Moon, 1999.
  • The Onion Model, Korthagen and Vasalos, 2005.

Feedback from our first assessment

Our first validation assessment finished at the end of March 2021. Overall, 96% of social workers selected for validation received an accepted outcome – the other 4% were given advice on how to improve their CPD in future. Those given advice will also be automatically included in the next assessment.

Some of the key findings and tips from the assessors:

  • Overall, the CPD recorded demonstrated the amazing depth and breadth of social work practice. “My admiration for social workers has only grown during this process,” one assessor said. Another assessor, referring to CPD exploring current events, such as COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, said “[social workers] were very much reflecting on what was going on around them”.

  • One assessor noted that “quality is more important than quantity”. Make sure you’re focused on answering the questions and meeting the CPD standard. A good reflective account can be written in around 300 to 800 words.

  • In the CPD assessed, there was a strong focus on attending training courses. Whilst this can be a valuable form of CPD, it is important you remember the wide variety of things you can record. Some of the creative CPD recorded this year included listening to podcasts, watching TED talks, group discussions, and reflecting on feedback.
  • Reflection (standard 4.6) was identified by the assessors as the key part of CPD that could be improved. “Give us concrete examples of what you’ve done, or what you will do in future, as a result of that CPD”, our assessors said. “Don’t just tell us what you did, but demonstrate its impact on your practice.”

Record CPD now

Overall, we were pleased to hear about all the creative examples of CPD recorded over the last year.

Remember, you should now be recording CPD for 2021. We recommend recording throughout the year to maintain your skills and knowledge. More information about CPD and support can be found on our website, and you record CPD on your online account now.

Please note that from 1 June 2021, validation assessment will be referred to as ‘CPD review.’ Whilst the name is different, the process has not changed.

Please note that there are many different ways to reflect, and many different independent reflective models. Social Work England does not have ownership of the models suggested here, nor do we endorse these approaches over other approaches. Using one of these approaches does not guarantee your CPD would be accepted if it’s selected for validation

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