All social work graduates should have a probationary year with support, supervision and training before being allowed to register, experts have said.
The 90-strong Association of Professors of Social Work is calling on the government to overhaul training but retain the generic degree. The association rejects Lord Laming’s recommendation to introduce children’s and adult specialisms after a generic first year.
The association says that specialising too early could lead to "blinkered assessments" of clients’ needs. It is developing proposals to strengthen training with the Joint University Council Social Work Education Committee.
In addition to retaining the generic degree and creating a specialist probationary year before registration, the two bodies recommend:
- Expanding the two-year foundation course in social care to increase the number of support workers in direct caring roles, such as supervising contact between family members.
- Raising the entry requirements for the social work degree to attract candidates with stronger analytical skills and "intellectual capacity".
- Giving fully-qualified social workers the option of taking a further year of study leading to a Master’s in one of four specialist areas: research, management, education, and practice.
The proposals will be submitted to the Social Work Taskforce.
Ray Jones, professor of social work at Kingston University and Association of Professors of Social Work member, said that specialising during the three years could lead to "disastrous consequences" such as "blinkered assessments and children’s and adults’ workers having little understanding of each other’s work and legal frameworks".
He added that the proposals would give students more time to choose their specialist area.
The government accepted Laming’s recommendation of a specialist children’s social work degree with a post-qualifiying award in safeguarding for all children’s social workers.
Since then children’s secretary Ed Balls has announced that social work would become a master’s-level profession, while the children and families select committee of MPs has started an inquiry into children’s social work training.