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Periods of adaptation

Information about applying to join or rejoin the register and managing your registration.

If you need to undertake a period of adaptation

Last updated: 27 May 2020

If our registration advisers feel that your qualification does not meet our standards, you will be asked to undertake a period of adaptation. 

A period of adaptation is a period of supervised practice and/or academic training. It’s designed to make up for any significant shortfalls in your application to join our register. These shortfalls are the areas where your education, training or experience have not met our standards for registration.

What you need to do

If we ask you to undertake a period of adaptation, we’ll send you our reasons for this decision. This will outline the areas of your education, knowledge or skills in which we feel you have not demonstrated how you meet our standards. We’ll tell you how long you’ll need to spend in each area to gain the experience necessary to meet our standards for registration.

A period of adaptation is usually undertaken in a social work setting in England. Your supervisor must be registered with Social Work England and have been registered as a social worker in England for at least 3 years.

If a period of adaptation is undertaken outside England, it must still be supervised by a current Social Work England registered social worker. Sometimes, a period of adaptation will also include further study, for example taking a course module at an English university.

If you’ve been asked to undertake a period of adaptation, it’s your responsibility to arrange a suitable placement. We cannot help you find or fund a placement. Not all employers will be able to support a period of adaptation. This might be because of a lack of resources or the training needs of other staff. When arranging your period of adaptation, you need to make sure you will cover all the areas identified by our registration advisers. You should discuss these areas with any potential supervisor to make sure you’ll be able to get the experience you need.

How long the period of adaptation will last

If your supervisor thinks you’ve completed the requirements of your period of adaptation in a shorter period of time than we advised, they may recommend you for registration at this point. Alternatively, if at the end of the recommended period your supervisor feels you have not fully met our requirements, they may extend the period of adaptation at their discretion.

There is no time limit for the completion of a period of adaptation. However, depending on the length of your period of adaptation, we may require you to update the information you provided in your application.

Safe and effective practice

During your period of adaptation, you must make sure you follow any instructions given to you by your supervisor. You should always ask for help or advice from your supervisor if you do not understand an instruction or if you do not feel able to carry out a task safely and effectively. It’s important you act within the limits of your skills and experience and get help from others when necessary. The health and wellbeing of the people you support should be your main concern at all times.

Test of competence

If you disagree with our decision asking you to undertake a period of adaptation, you may request a test of competence.

A test of competence is an interview during which you’ll be asked questions about various areas relevant to social work. The areas covered in your interview will be determined by the areas of your education, knowledge or skills our registration advisers thought fell below the required standards.

The test of competence gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you do in fact meet the standards required to join our register. If you pass the test of competence, you’ll be eligible for registration.

Additional support 

For more information, read our periods of adaptation guidance and test of competence guidance.

If you have any questions, please call 0808 196 2274 or email [email protected]

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