Let us know if you agree to cookies

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all cookies.

Skip to main navigation

Skip to main content

Updating skills and knowledge

Updating your skills and knowledge


If you have not been registered as a social worker in England in the last two years, you’ll need to provide us with evidence to show how you’ve kept your skills, knowledge and experience up-to-date.

If you left the register between two and five years ago, you’ll need to show that you have spent at least 30 days updating your skills, knowledge and experience.

If you left the register more than five years ago, you’ll need to show that you have spent at least 60 days updating your skills, knowledge and experience.

What updating your skills, knowledge and experience means in practice

A day is defined as a minimum of six hours. The 30 or 60 days do not need to be continuous, but they must all fall within the 12 months leading up to you submitting your application.

You can use one or more of the following three options to update your skills, knowledge and experience. However, private study can make up no more than half of the required period.

This means that you can undertake private study for up to 30 days if you are completing a 60-day period, or 15 days if you are completing a 30-day period.

1. Supervised practice

Supervised practice involves working with the supervision of a registered social worker in a social work role either in the UK or another country. Your supervisor must be registered with the relevant regulatory body for the duration of your supervised practice and have been registered as a social worker for at least three years. They must also not be subject to any fitness to practise sanctions or proceedings.

For each period of supervised practice, you undertake during the 12 month period, you’ll need to provide:

  • the contact details of your supervisor

  • the name of the regulatory body you're registered with

  • their registration number

  • the dates and number of hours of your supervised practice

  • details of what your supervised practice involved

We’ll contact your supervisor to confirm this information.

2. Formal study

A postgraduate course will be accepted as formal study as long as a qualification in social work was necessary to enrol on the course. You’ll need to send us a certified copy of your certificate or upload a scan of the original so we can verify your qualification. We may also contact your course provider for confirmation.

3. Private study

Private study is a method of updating your skills and knowledge through self-structured learning. Some examples of the types of activities that you may include in your period of private study are:

  • 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

Private study can make up no more than half of the required period.

You’ll need to keep a record of the activities you undertake throughout any period of private study. When you make your application, 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.

In relation to each day or activity that makes up your private study, it’s important that you keep a record of:

  • the date

  • the number of hours spent

  • what you did

  • how this helped you meet our professional standards

Your responsibility

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.

You can view our professional standards.

If you’ve been practising as a social worker elsewhere

If you’ve been practising as a registered social worker outside England, you’ll need to tell us:

  • the regulatory body you were, or are currently registered with

  • your registration number with that body

  • the dates of your registration period

If there was not a registration body in the country where you practised, you must provide us with information about the work you were doing.

Our registration advisers, who are qualified social workers, will make a decision about whether this work is enough to exempt you from a period of updating your skills and knowledge. You’ll also need to provide details of the CPD you’ve completed during this time.

You can read more about CPD

Periods of adaptation


Some applicants will be asked to undertake a period of adaptation if two registration advisers feel that their qualification does not meet our standards.

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.

A period of adaptation is supervised by a registered social worker. Once you’ve completed your period of adaptation, your supervisor will tell us whether or not they recommend you for registration.

The length of your period of adaptation

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.

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. But, depending on the length of your period of adaptation, we may require you to update the information you provided in your application.

Where to undertake your period of adaptation

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 three 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, such as taking a course module at a  university in England.

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.

Test of competence

If you are asked to undertake a period of adaptation, you can request to do a test of competence instead to prove that you do have the required knowledge and experience to meet our standards.

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

Further information

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

 

Last updated: 28 November 2019