Social Work Profession

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Conservative, Scarborough and Whitby

What progress his Department has made on strengthening the social work profession.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart Conservative, Brentwood and Ongar

What progress his Department has made on strengthening the social work profession.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Social workers do an invaluable job in protecting the most vulnerable children and families in our society. We are improving initial education standards, and providing professional development at key stages throughout a social worker’s career. A new independent regulator, Social Work England, will have a strong focus on better standards, while the national assessment and accreditation system will provide additional confidence in the quality of practice.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Conservative, Scarborough and Whitby

The independent regulator will help to raise still further the already high standards of practice in social work. Does the Minister agree that social workers who achieve accreditation status should also earn the right to put some initials after their names—for example, ASW, standing for “accredited social worker”?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

My right hon. Friend is right to point out that the national assessment and accreditation system is a critical means of embedding high standards in the social work profession. We are currently in phase 1, and more than 100 social workers have been accredited so far. We will be considering questions like my right hon. Friend’s during the national roll-out.

Photo of Alex Burghart Alex Burghart Conservative, Brentwood and Ongar

Initiatives such as Step Up to Social Work and Frontline have done a very good job in bringing high-qualities graduates into the profession, but what is the Department doing to encourage better continuing professional development for those who are already in the workforce?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Continuing professional development is crucial to high-quality social work. The Department funds it through the assessed and supported year in employment for new social workers, and an aspiring practice leaders programme. This autumn we launched a programme for more than 1,000 people moving into supervisory roles.

Photo of Ruth George Ruth George Labour, High Peak

The Secretary of State said that early help services delivered by social workers were vital. What assessment has he made of the proposals to abolish 90 social work jobs in Derbyshire—where the number of children in care has risen by 50% in the last five years—and to transfer the early help service to schools?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

In the Budget we announced a further £410 million for local authorities to invest in adults’ and children’s social care services in 2019-20. We also announced £84 million to scale up good practice from, for instance, Leeds, Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire to 20 other local authorities. We hope that places such as Derbyshire will look at those models and scale up that good practice.

Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North

I know that the Minister will want to join me in congratulating Frontline not just on bringing 1,000 people into the profession, but on elevating the status of social work. Does he recognise, however, that notwithstanding the additional investment to which he has just referred, unless we deal effectively with the funding crisis facing children’s social services, we will not be able to keep and promote those people who do such wonderful work in keeping children and young people safe and well?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The hon. Gentleman has made an important point about funding. We are working with the sector, and with the Local Government Association, to ensure that we are in a good place for the spending review.