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Craig Davis, Head of Social Care at Sanctuary, urges social workers to seize the opportunity to shape the future of their profession.




The way support and services are delivered for children and families is evolving.
A landmark step in that is a new assessment and accreditation system for three levels of professional practice for child and family social workers – an approved child and family practitioner status; an assessed and accredited supervisor status; and a role of social work practice leader. 

Heralded as a move that will see “the brightest and best lead rather than leave the profession,” the move also aims to restore confidence in the specialist area and bring quality social workers to the fore. 

It has to be a positive step for the profession - particularly in the way it offers a defined structure for ongoing development of social workers as well as enabling supervisors to better share their knowledge.

New statements


The process has now shifted to a new level with Chief Social Worker for Children and Families Isabelle Trowler having commissioned two new statements for practice supervisors and practice leaders. 

Currently open for consultation, this gives social workers, local authorities, representative bodies, parents, carers, families, children and other interested parties, the chance to have their say – and even influence – the plans. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the new statements for practice supervisors and practice leaders.

Statement: Knowledge and Skills for Practice Supervisors


Practice supervisors are qualified social workers with the skills and confidence to supervise the practice and decision-making of approved child and family practitioners and develop the skills of individuals and teams within children’s services.

They must show proficiency – and excel – in a number of areas to be successful in the role with the ultimate goal of achieving the best long-term outcomes for children and families and will be expected to:

  • Promote and govern excellent practice through establishing – and maintaining – a valued position of influence; be recognised for extensive knowledge and skill within child and family social work; and be accountable for ensuring the highest professional standards and conduct.
  • Develop excellent practitioners through providing a framework within which practitioners can work effectively, and then set expectations that will be applied to practice. Another important facet is the ability to recognise the strengths and development needs of practitioners.
  • Shape and influence the practice system by providing a safe, calm and well-ordered environment for all staff.
  • Be effective in their use of power and authority by applying a proportionate and ethical approach to the exercise of authority.
  • Demonstrate confident analysis and decision-making by creating a culture of focussed thinking which consistently explores a wide range of contexts.
  • Deliver purposeful and effective social work by ensuring practitioners adopt an approach proportionate to identified risk but also utilise supervision processes to challenge the balance of authoritative intervention and collaborative engagement. 
  • Deliver emotionally intelligent practice supervision with the ability to recognise how different relationships evoke different emotional responses, which impact upon the effectiveness of social work practice. 
  • Use performance management and improvement to ensure the team and individuals meet high standards.

Statement: Knowledge and Skills for Practice Leaders


Practice leaders are qualified social workers with the day-to-day operational responsibility across the whole local system for child and family social work practice, and for approved child and family practitioners and practice supervisors. Practice leaders will be able to: 

  • Lead and govern excellent practice as a highly-visible and highly-valued figure, occupying a position of significant influence at a local and national level, be known for exceptional knowledge and skill in the profession of child and family social work, and deliver a world-class service for children and families. 
  • Create a context for excellent practice by engaging staff, children and families and the wider partnership in creating a shared strategic vision which inspires, motivates and encapsulates the organisational commitment to supporting families, protecting children and providing safe and stable childhoods for children in public care. 
  • Design a system to support effective practice with political and financial astuteness, and within a clear set of principles, to enable excellent child and family social work practice to flourish. 
  • Develop excellent practitioners and critically appraise theory, best evidence and rationale for different practice approaches, and select robust methodologies to form an overarching practice framework. 
  • Support effective decision-making in a culture where managed risk is accepted and understood as being inherent in every decision that is made. 
  • Implement quality assurance and improvement by setting ambitious practice standards, instilling a strong sense of accountability in staff for the impact of their work on the lives of children and families.

Have your say


During an initial 10-week consultation a few months ago, about 1,000 social workers, young people, families and other organisations responded, with the government making some changes in response.
That clearly shows that social workers can comment on the government’s plans…and have their voices heard. 

Details of the statement and open consultation are at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/social-work-knowledge-and-skills-for-supervisors-and-leaders 

PLEASE NOTE: The consultation closes on September 1, so make sure you don’t miss out on having your say to help shape the future of your profession!

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