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Guidance on updating your skills and knowledge

When making an application, you may need to show us how you’ve kept your skills, knowledge and experience up to date.

Guidance on updating your skills, knowledge and experience

Last updated: 1 December 2023

If you need to update your skills, knowledge and experience, you can use (any of the following):

This page includes examples of what we would (and wouldn’t) accept.

It’s your responsibility to make sure what you learn during a period of updating your skills, knowledge and experience is enough to meet our professional standards.

Updating skills and knowledge forms

Complete this form to show how you have updated your skills and knowledge.

There are 3 different forms. One form is for applicants within the UK, one is for applicants from overseas and the other form is for restoration applicants. Please fill out the form relevant to your situation.

UK applicants

Download the updating skills and knowledge form for UK applicants.

Overseas applicants

Download the updating skills and knowledge form for overseas applicants.

Restoration applicants

Download the updating skills and knowledge form for restoration applicants

Supervised practice

About supervised practice

Supervised practice involves working with the supervision of a registered social worker in a social work role. You can do supervised practice in the UK or another regulated country.

We don’t specify the activities that you must do as part of your supervised practise. However, the activities must relate to activities that social workers do in the UK. For example (any of the following):

  • undertaking or shadowing assessments
  • social work care planning
  • applying legislation
  • signposting and liaising with other agencies
  • attending team and multi-disciplinary meetings
  • case recording
  • providing information, support and guidance to service users and their families
  • shadowing social workers
  • any other activities relevant to the social work setting

We don’t expect applicants to carry their own caseload.

Your supervisor

Your supervisor must (meet all of the following criteria):

  • be registered with the relevant regulatory body for the duration of your supervised practice
  • have been registered as a social worker for at least 3 years
  • not be subject to any fitness to practise sanctions or proceedings

Keeping a record of supervised practice

For each period of supervised practice you do during the 12 month period, you’ll need to provide (all of the following):

  • contact details of your supervisor
  • name of the regulatory body your supervisor is registered with
  • your supervisor's registration number
  • dates and number of hours of supervised practice
  • details of what your supervised practice involved. For example:
    • activity type and description of what the task involved
    • what you learned from the experience
    • how your experience relates to social work practise in the UK

We'll contact your supervisor so they can confirm this information.

Examples of supervised practice

A good example of supervised practice will include (all of the following):

  • a day-by-day list of the activity (or activities) you’ve completed
  • confirmation of the hours you’ve completed in that day
  • activities that are similar to those listed in our UK applicant guidance, restoration guidance or overseas applicant guidance
  • evidence that you’ve updated your skills and knowledge in more than one type of activity
  • a detailed description of the activity (or activities), without repetition

Please do not copy and paste these examples. They need to be your own examples, that your supervisor can sign off.

Examples we would accept

Example 1: Shadowing mental capacity assessment
“I worked with my supervisor to complete an assessment on a person who had dementia. This person was struggling. The family requested the visit because they were considering a move to a nursing home. I learnt from my supervisor that a diagnostic test would support us in our assessment. The test is to measure the individual's impairment of the brain. The assessment highlighted that the individual was unable to communicate or understand information and decisions about their care. The findings supported us in our decision making. I worked with my supervisor, whilst consulting the family to make the referral."

We would accept this example because:

  • it's related to social work (supporting adult mental health)
  • it explains the case and shadowing experience
  • it shares the decisions made and learning from the experience
Example 2: Writing up a social care work plan
“I worked with my supervisor to write a care plan for a person who needed emergency foster care. I ensured that the plan was clear and concise. I identified the person’s needs, explained the background of the case, and set out future arrangements (including specific timescales). I also calculated costings for the foster carer, so that payment could be arranged."

We would accept this example because:

  • it’s a clear social work care plan
  • they have briefly explained the action taken
Example 3: Applying legislation
“I progressed a phone call with a client regarding their alcohol use. I did some research prior to my discussion with them. We discussed current legislation, the regulations and standards in relation to alcohol use. The client was unaware of the drink driving regulations and agreed they will now take public transport. I advised the client to use the DVLA website for further information.”

We would accept this example because:

  • it shows research and learning from legislation
  • it explains the advice they gave to the client
Example 4: Case recording
“It is important to ensure I complete case recordings, so there is an accurate record. The notes that I complete are regarding the assessments I have completed. For example, when I recently visited a vulnerable child. I recorded details about my visit, the case, and risks to the child. After the visit, I also made telephones calls and sent emails, which I recorded on our secure database. I ensure I do this daily, so there is an accurate record for me to refer to. It’s also important in case another professional needs to look at the case or check progress. My records will help them understand the reasoning behind my decisions.”

We would accept this example because:

  • it explains understanding of case recording
  • it shows types of activities required for accurate case recording
  • it shows the applicant identifying risks to the vulnerable child

Examples we would not accept

Example 1: Identifying and supporting students' wellbeing within the classroom
“I practiced the Interventions to promote students' wellbeing inside the classroom. I worked as a counsellor supporting students and identifying any risks, referring as appropriate. We ran numerous workshops for the students on coping with exam stress and resilience, and gave out resources for them to take home.”

We would not accept this example. This is because it is focussed on counselling and mental health interventions. It relates more to healthcare (rather than a varied social work role).

Example 2: Visit to children
“Visit to children A and J to offer support and guidance.”

We would not accept this example, because it doesn't include enough detail. The applicant should tell us (all of the following):

  • what the supervised practise involved
  • what tasks you completed
  • any learning you took from the activity
  • how the activity relates to social work
Example 3: Field visits
"Conducted field visits to identify who had been vaccinated against COVID-19. We spoke to people in the local area about the benefits of vaccination and how to access their vaccination. We also gave out soap and spoke about the importance of thorough hand washing to prevent spread of the virus."

We would not accept this example. This is because it isn't relevant to UK social work. It describes a healthcare activity that social workers in the UK do not do.

Example 4: Attending lectures
"I observed a range of lectures and was able to contribute my experience, skills and knowledge within this learning environment."

We would not accept this example. This example is focused on overall learning in an academic forum. It is not an example of supervised practise.

Formal study

We will accept a postgraduate course as formal study. This could be a degree, diploma or shorter course. We’ll accept it as long as (both of the following apply):

  • a qualification in social work was necessary to enroll on the course
  • the course is linked to a university

We must also be confident that the course content, quality assurance processes and governance are of a sufficient standard.

You’ll need to send us a copy of your certificate. This is so we can verify your qualification. We may also contact your course provider for confirmation.

We don’t endorse any particular courses or programmes. It is your responsibility to ensure the course meets our requirements.

View approved courses

Private study

About private study

Private study is a method of updating your skills and knowledge through self-structured learning.

Types of private study

Some examples of activities that you may include in your period of private study are (any of the following):

  • reading journal articles or library books
  • reading information on relevant websites
  • observing or shadowing a social worker (which is different from supervised practice, as there is no formal supervision arrangement)
  • attending training courses
  • reflecting on and recording your learning

Limitations on private study

Private study can make up no more than half of the required period. This means that you can do private study for up to (either of the following):

  • 30 days (if you are completing a period of 60 days)
  • 15 days (if you are completing a period of 30 days)

A day is a minimum of 7 hours. The 30 or 60 days do not need to be continuous. However, you must have completed them the 12 months before you submit your application.

Keeping a record of private study

You’ll need to keep a record of the activities you do throughout any period of private study. When you apply to join the register, you’ll need to demonstrate how each aspect of your private study has contributed to your learning and enabled you to meet our professional standards.

For each day or activity that makes up your private study, it’s important that you keep a record of (all of the following):

  • the date
  • the number of hours
  • what you did
  • how this helped you meet our professional standards

Examples of private study

Examples we would accept

Example 1: Online study
“I read some case studies about social work online. I referred to Social Work England’s professional standards and reflected on how these social workers applied the standards in practice. For example, how they respect the dignity and privacy of the people they support (standard 2.2).
I thought about how I would approach similar situations at work, and what I could learn from these social workers’ experiences. For example, trying alternative methods of communication to make sure I build the best relationships with the people I work with (upholding standard 2.5). One of the social workers wrote about using texting to better engage with teenagers. This is something I could implement in my future practice working with children and families.”

We would accept this example because:

  • it demonstrates independent learning and reflection, using online resources
  • it’s directly related to social work
Example 2: Suicide prevention awareness training
"I attended suicide prevention awareness training. In the training, I was able to read case notes. The training also shared information to help extend my knowledge and skills. This built my understanding of suicide and how to spot the signs. I also learnt how to have conversations with individuals who are at risk of suicide or have suicidal ideations.
This training was important for my learning as it can help me in professional (as well as personal) settings. The case used in the training (about an individual with suicidal feelings) is relevant to my work with both service users and work colleagues.”

We would accept this example because:

  • it’s relevant to social work practice in the UK
  • they explain what they learned in the training, and how they’ll apply it in practice

Examples we would not accept

Example 1: Fire safety training
"I took part in training on fire safety. This included modules on identifying fire hazards, alerting people to fire, and how to safely evacuate a building. I also learned about the different types of extinguishers and how to put out different types of fires. As a result of this training, I am now a fire marshal for my office building."

We would not accept this example. Whilst fire safety is an important topic, it isn't directly relevant to social work in the UK.

Additional support 

If you have any questions, you can contact us:

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