Social Work England recently became the new social work regulator, taking over from the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) and bringing a new approach to social work and continuing professional development (CPD). With nearly 100,000 qualified social workers in England, here’s what practitioners need to know about the change…
Changing social work regulator
Social Work England became the new specialist regulator for social workers in England on 2 December 2019. This marks a big change in social care, as HCPC had been operating as the regulator since 2012. Social Work England is now responsible for registering all social workers, ensuring they carry out CPD, regulating social worker education providers and handling fitness to practice concerns.
All registration details were automatically transferred over to Social Work England from the HCPC, as well as the management of all live fitness to practise cases. Social Work England has set up new online accounts for all social workers, enabling them to view their registration details, update their personal information, upload CPD and communicate securely with the new regulator.
While the transition has been designed to be as smooth as possible for practitioners, Social Work England has announced changes to how social workers must record their CPD going forward.
Thinking creatively about CPD
Social Work England does not specify any CPD that should be completed, instead they state: “What is important is that your learning is relevant to your role and that it focuses on the application of your learning in practice” - what does this mean?
CPD can include formal training courses, which are especially important in areas of social work with statutory responsibilities. But it can also encompass any activity that benefits a social worker and their practice. This could be learning from podcasts, articles and books, handling complaints, and experience with other frameworks and programmes, such as an assessed supported year in employment.
As under HCPC, social workers must record their CPD regularly, demonstrating how they meet one of the eight CPD standards. However, they must also include a reflection on how each CPD activity impacted on their practice.
The new way of judging CPD
This new addition is how Social Work England will judge CPD going forwards, rather than on the quality of the CPD. Social Work England will validate a small, random selection (2.5%) of the registrants, looking at the learning’s impact in practice.
If it is judged that their CPD requires ‘further assessment’, practitioners will need to provide more information on their submissions. If the CPD is deemed not to have met the registration standard, social workers may face conditions on their registration, or even removal.
All practitioners are required to record at least some CPD on their new accounts at the point of renewal. They can do this by filling out and submitting a structured or unstructured online form.
If practitioners do not record or submit any CPD during the registration period, which runs 2 December 2019 to 30 November 2020, they will be given a further 21 days to record activities. If this does not happen, Social Work England will act, which could result in removal from the register.
A note for employers
Given that CPD is so vital to social workers, employers are being encouraged by Social Work England to “familiarise themselves with the regulatory CPD requirements for social workers”. Part of this means allowing practitioners adequate time to carry out their CPD duties. Employers should look to foster a learning culture to support social workers to carry out CPD and look beyond practitioners only attending training courses.
It’s important that all social workers regularly record their CPD using their online accounts. While Social Work England’s approach marks a shift from that of the HCPC, it will endeavour to stay in contact and give regular reminders to all practitioners through the new online system.
If you’re a qualified social worker looking for a new role, or are recruiting for a dedicated qualified social to join your team, contact your local Reed Care branch for guidance from our experts.