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Education opportunities for social workers are constantly evolving as the drive continues to raise the status of the profession and standards within it.

Initiatives, such as the Frontline programme and the Step Up to Social Work scheme, are intended to play a crucial role in evolving the quality of social work education, with both supported by £100 million of government funding to underpin the development and expansion of the schemes. We explore what the latest announcements mean. 

Developing outstanding individuals

We already know that there are thousands of exceptional individuals working with vulnerable children, adults and their families, having placed many within roles that enable them to carry out their work. The intention, it seems, is to increase the number of those individuals, creating leaders in social work whilst encouraging others to change their occupation, retrain or take up a career in social work. 

Recruiting the top graduates

Education secretary Nicky Morgan unveiled plans earlier this year to transform frontline children’s social work with the recruitment of thousands of top graduates. It will mean that by 2018, a quarter of all newly-qualified social workers will have joined child and family social work via fast track programmes.

In addition, the government wants all child and family social workers to be assessed against the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families knowledge and skills statements by the end of this Parliament. 

Education continually improving

Meanwhile, a body focusing on raising the quality of social work education, training and practice in both children’s and adult social work will eventually become the new regulatory body for the profession, in place of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The announcement follows the HCPC’s review of social work education in England from August 2012 to August 2015. After visiting more than 80 education providers and 250 social work programmes, the HCPC found the quality of social work education is continually improving, although ‘the wider context in which social work education in England operates remains in flux’.

Learning from the best

The government is also making £20 million available to fund a new ‘What Works Centre’ that will be launched later this year to enable social workers across the country to learn from the best examples of frontline social work. The developments have largely been viewed as a “springboard” for social work to become recognised as one of the most highly regarded and expert professions in the public service landscape. 

Keen to hear more, we invited Chief Social Workers Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo along with BASW’s new Chief Executive, Ruth Allen, to talk about their aspirations for social work education in the next edition of Sanctuary Social Work News (out this Friday – 1st April).

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