DfE Newsletter for Social Workers October 2019 edition

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Welcome to the Autumn 2019 edition of the Department for Education’s Newsletter for Social Workers. This edition includes the latest updates on the National Assessment and Accreditation System, developments at Social Work England, and a message from the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson. We hope you enjoy it and find it useful.  

A message from the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson

When I took on the job as Education Secretary, I quickly discovered that the people who work here are exceptional. But those of you who are at the front line of social work are another level entirely and I’d like to thank all of you for the dedication and passion you bring to changing so many young lives. Every child deserves to feel safe, secure and loved but sadly too many won’t be. I know each one of you goes the extra mile trying to give them the start in life we would wish for our own children. It is a privilege to be your champion in government and you can be sure that in Kemi Badenoch and Michelle Donelan, you have the most enthusiastic and committed ministers.

Michelle Donelan appointed as Children and Families Minister

Michelle Donelan has been appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families.

Minister Donelan began the role on Tuesday 10 September, following the start of Kemi Badenoch’s maternity leave.

She takes on responsibility for children’s social care, special educational needs and disabilities – including high needs funding – disadvantage and social mobility and support for the home learning environment. She will also continue to support the Secretary of State in his role as skills lead.

For more information please visit gov.uk.

Update from Isabelle Trowler

I’ve been busy meeting new Ministers, promoting the great work going on in Children’s Social Care and some of the significant pressures you are under. At a particularly in-depth meeting with the Secretary of State, I was met with a firm level of interest and acknowledgement that we are, overall, an improving system.

I’m now turning my mind's eye to what we need to do next and I’ll be asking the Principal Social Workers this question. Contact your PSW and let them know!

Social Work England professional standards guidance

Social Work England continues to prepare to take over the regulation of the profession from Health and Care Professions Council on 2 December. Social workers won’t need to do anything when the change of regulator takes place. The transfer will be automatic for everyone on the register, and social workers currently registered with HCPC will retain their current registration numbers.

Following extensive consultation, Social Work England published two sets of standards at the end of July. The professional standards set out the requirements they expect social workers to meet and the education and training standards set out the requirements expected of qualifying courses. Social Work England are now consulting on fitness to practise, continuing professional development, and registration guidance.

Further advice on the transfer, and all publications and consultation documents can be found on Social Work England’s website.

The latest from NAAS

Over the summer the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) reached its one-year anniversary and over 600 candidates have now taken the assessment.

With assessment centres planned through to the end of phase two, social workers endorsed by their NAAS lead can now book an assessment. It’s recommended that a full day be given to allow time to travel and prepare. Grant money can be used to support social workers travelling to assessment centres, including those further away.

Social workers and NAAS leads can access an online toolkit to help them ensure that the assessment allows them to demonstrate their skills to the best of their abilities. To find out whether your employer is involved in NAAS and whether you can take the assessment, visit gov.uk.

Longitudinal study of child and family social workers

On 9 August the Department for Education published a report on the findings from the first year of its new longitudinal study. The study is investigating recruitment, retention and career progression in local authority child and family social work over five years. Based on responses from more than 5,500 social workers in local authorities across England, topics covered in the report include:

Entry routes into local authority child and family social work

  • Current employment and career history
  • Workplace wellbeing
  • Management, supervision and working environment
  • Job satisfaction
  • Career progression and future career plans.

Findings from the report have been wide ranging and it has produced some encouraging statistics, such as:

  • Entry route: 68% of respondents felt their entry route had prepared them well for working in child and family social work
  • Training: around two-thirds (65%) of respondents find the DfE-funded ‘Assessed and Supported Year in Employment’ useful and 69% said they could access the right learning and development opportunities when they needed to
  • Job satisfaction: respondents reported a high degree of job satisfaction (with 74% of respondents on average saying they find their job satisfying – and a 78% satisfaction rating from respondents who work within areas with an outstanding Ofsted rating);
  • Retention: almost three-quarters (72%) planned to stay working directly in local authority child and social work, a further 14% planned to still be working in child and family social work but outside local authority employment including in agencies, and a further 3% planned to move to other social work roles.

We recognise that there were also some challenges raised as part of this study. The report will help direct our work to make sure we address social workers’ concerns. The report can be found on gov.uk.

Thank you to those of you who responded to the survey. If you receive a request to complete the survey this year then please do take the time to respond, as this will ensure the findings from the research are representative of your views.  

National Adoption Week

National Adoption Week is taking place between 14 to 20 October. The Department for Education has funded the Regional Adoption Agencies (RAA) Leaders Group to run this year’s campaign, with the aim of helping to recruit more adopters both locally and nationally. The focus of the week will contain a mixture of adoption myth busting and targeted recruitment for harder to place children.

The Leaders Group is working closely with the voluntary sector and local authorities who are not yet part of an RAA to ensure the whole sector is included. Closer to the week, the Department will be sharing recruitment materials for agencies to utilise to help drive recruitment during the week.

For more information on National Adoption Week please contact Cheryl Duke. 

Care Leavers Week

This year’s Care Leavers’ Week – which takes place from 23 October to 1 November – marks a year since the launch of the Care Leaver Covenant.  Since then Spectra First, the delivery partner appointed by the Department for Education, has been busy getting organisations to sign up and back their commitment up with practical offers of help that support care leavers to live independently.  If you haven’t heard about the Covenant, why not check out the My Covenant website to see what’s on offer to help the young people you are supporting once they leave care.     

Not already signed up? Click here