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A new social work body is being planned to improve standards and drive up the status of the profession.

With a goal of putting social workers on par with professions such as surgeons or lawyers, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan unveiled the proposal for the new body, which comes as frontline children’s social work is being bolstered with the recruitment of 3,000 of the “best and brightest” graduates via the expansion of high-quality entry routes into the profession.

Relentless focus on quality

By the end of this Parliament, social workers will be empowered and supported through assessment against the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families knowledge and skills statements. 

And now the new organisation – which will eventually replace the Health and Care Professions Council as the regulatory authority – will take that a step further with a “relentless focus on raising the quality of social work, education, training and practice” in children’s and adult social work.

Setting standards for training and assessment

The new body will set standards for training and oversee the roll-out of a new assessment and accreditation system for children and family social workers as soon as possible, said Ms Morgan. 

“These hard working, dedicated professionals have the ability not just to improve the circumstances of vulnerable children but to change them entirely. That is why supporting social workers, and giving them the tools they need, is a priority for this government and a personal priority for me as Secretary of State,” she said. 

“Our reforms are big and bold because we need the best people on the frontline, armed with the knowledge and skills to change lives. These reforms are about getting it right for social workers, so that social workers can get it right for our most vulnerable children and families.”

Springboard for social work

Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, Isabelle Trowler, described the announcement of the new organisation as a “springboard” for social work to become “recognised as one of the most highly regarded and expert professions in the public service landscape” and an opportunity for social workers “to prove our worth to the public.”

In 2014 the new set of professional standards for all levels of children’s social work were announced after a review found too many people were entering the profession lacking the knowledge and skills able to operate effectively.

With 90,000 qualified social workers in England, of which 27,000 work in child and family social work, the new body is seen as demonstrating support for social workers and driving up quality, status and regard for the practice, whilst recognising the vital role they play in improving lives of vulnerable children, families and adults.

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