30 July 2009
RADICALLY REFORM THE TRAINING OF SOCIAL WORKERS NOW OR LEAVE VULNERABLE CHILDREN AT RISK, SAY MPs
The training of social workers is not fit for purpose, concludes a report by the Children, Schools and Families Committee. It says that new recruits to the profession are routinely placed in the most challenging circumstances, with insufficient preparation, experience, or support. Post-qualification training is not robust enough to make good the deficits in specialist skills in generalist qualifying courses, such as child protection. Quality assurance of qualifying courses is inadequate.
Universities and Local Government are failing to work together to provide high quality college courses, relevant practice experience and acceptable levels of support from good managers to social workers on the front line. High vacancy levels and caseloads make training and supervision difficult to sustain.
Far too many local authorities are heavily dependent on agency workers. Quality control of these agencies is almost non-existent and the Committee is deeply concerned that there is no monitoring of how well they provide for training of their own staff.
The Chairman of the Committee, Barry Sheerman MP, said:
"Vulnerable children and families depend, often for their lives, on competent professional help from social work professionals. The vast majority of social workers are excellent but they deserve the level of education, training and support that a mature profession would provide.
"Social workers need a high quality national training body and high profile national leadership of their profession, and they need to be better rewarded."