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Foreword The evidence in this report indicates that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) providing courses in social work are delivering to current national standards. However the Social Work Task Force has recommended a change in those standards which will raise the bar. The General Social Care Council (GSCC) welcomes the Task Force’s recommendations and looks forward to working with the Government in developing new standards to reflect the complex practice skills required of today’s social workers.

stronger and more robust regulation that is proportionate to the risk. During the past year employers and students have told us that some social work programmes are not delivering to the quality expected, especially in practice placements. It costs a great deal to train a social worker and we are committed to playing our part in making sure that such public funding is wisely invested. We have now embarked on transforming our monitoring, approval and inspection regime.

In 2003 the degree qualification for social work was introduced, followed in 2005 by a new PostQualifying (PQ) framework as part of the Government’s agenda in raising standards and ensuring better public protection through more competent practitioners. In 2008 we introduced a degree comparator to assess those qualifications gained outside the UK, so that we could be sure that social workers from overseas wishing to work in this country were trained to the same standard as those trained in the UK. These requirements, alongside other changes in the sector, have established an effective framework for protecting people who use services by ensuring that only those who are properly trained, suitable and safe are allowed to enter the profession.

We are introducing a more rigorous approach to quality assurance and methods which will enable the GSCC to respond more efficiently and effectively to underperforming programmes, whilst acting proportionately to those programmes which are demonstrably achieving high quality. To support this, we will need new powers and a range of new sanctions to ensure our response to failure is clear and firm, proportionate and focused on improvement. We will continue working with people who use services, including them as ‘visitors’ accompanying our inspections so that decisions reflect the service user perspective. In addition, we will explore how the visitor scheme can be extended to include employers.

However, there is more to do to in order to give the public greater confidence in the quality of social work education and the mechanisms of regulation and inspection. We see the Social Work Task Force Report published at the end of 2009 as the start of a new era for social work. It provides for a new professional framework for social work that will deliver a better trained, supported, rewarded and confident workforce. We look forward to playing our part in the transformation agenda.

I am determined to increase public confidence and protection through better, more rigorous but fair regulatory systems, driven first and foremost by the needs of people who use services.

We intend to work with the sector to implement

I hope you will find this report interesting and a useful contribution to shaping the social work reform agenda.

Rosie Varley Chair of the Council


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Contents Foreword Executive summary

Page 2 Page 5

Introduction

Page 10

Policy context

Page 12

Section one Entry to social work training Becoming a qualified social worker Who studies on the Social Work Degree? Looking forward

Page 14 Page 14 Page 17 Page 19

Section three Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities Requirements and funding Practice learning opportunities Where do Practice Learning Opportunities take place? Spotlight – a student reflects on their first placement Monitoring placements – sufficiency, supply and demand Monitoring practice learning – quality GSCC responses to practice learning concerns Supervision and assessment Discussion Looking forward

Page 31 Page 31 Page 31 Page 31 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 41 Page 43 Page 44

Section two Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree Page 21 The GSCC’s regulatory role Page 21 Results of annual monitoring Page 22 Results of review and reapproval Page 23 Dealing with concerns and complaints Page 24 Participation of employers Page 25 Participation of people who use services and carers Page 26 Participation of people who use services and carers – use of DH funding Page 27 Participation of people who use services in GSCC’s regulatory activity Page 27 Looking forward Page 28 Spotlight – visitors Page 30

Section four Progression and achievement on the Social Work Degree Progression and achievement Achievement by type of course Achievement and student characteristics Looking forward Spotlight – diversity and progression Continued over.

Page 46 Page 46 Page 47 Page 47 Page 52 Page 53


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Contents continued Section 5 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training Entry to the Social Care Register Employment details Post-qualifying training Closure of outgoing GSCC/CCETSW awards The post-qualifying framework Number, location and specialism of courses Number of students by level of award Number of students by specialism Spotlight – research on postqualifying social work education Who studies on post-qualifying courses? Employer participation The training of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) Looking forward

Page 54 Page 54 Page 55 Page 57 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 61 Page 63 Page 65 Page 66 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71

List of frequently-used acronyms Page 73 References

Page 74

Acknowledgements

Page 75


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Executive Summary Raising Standards: Social Work Education in England 2008–09 reports on progression data collected by the GSCC whilst undertaking its regulatory role in social work education and training during 2007–08. It also reports on enrolments during the period 2008–09. The five sections of the report cover: 1. Entrants to social work training 2. Findings from monitoring of the Higher Education Institute (HEI)-based delivery of the Social Work Degree (SWD) 3. The Practice Learning element of the Social Work Degree 4. Outcomes for students on the Social Work Degree 5. Entry of newly qualified social workers to the workforce and Post-Qualifying (PQ) training

Entrants to social work training 1.

Since 2003 social work has been a degree entry profession, but there are a variety of routes to attaining the qualification – through full or part time undergraduate or postgraduate (Masters level) study at a Higher Education Institute (HEI) or through an employment-based route. The vast majority (85.7%) of social work students still study on college-based full time courses but there has been a slight increase over last year in the proportion studying on part time courses and particularly on employment-based courses. Enrolment on social work degrees for the academic year 2008–09 is 5,763, an increase on last year’s final figure of 5,452. There are now 266 approved degree courses and a total of 13 new courses have been approved during the academic year. Eleven of these are at post graduate level, reflecting increasing availability of Masters level courses, which now represent 38% of the total provision.

Overall, the 2008–09 profile of student intake remains relatively unchanged in relation to 2007–08. Students on the Social Work Degree (SWD) continue to have a different profile from intakes on other degree courses. Mature students feature prominently, with students over the age of 25 accounting for 61% of the total intake. There has been no increase in school leavers entering social work training as some had expected. The intake from non-white ethnic groups, at 19%, is significantly above the national population average of 7.9%. There is a continued predominance of females entering social work training, with male enrolments at 13.6%, reflecting a very small rise (0.6%) for the first time since the degree began.

Findings from monitoring of the Higher Education Institute (HEI)-based delivery of the Social Work Degree 2. Annual monitoring of the HEIs’ own quality assurance by the GSCC leads to categorisation of courses as • high performing; • satisfactory, but requiring focused development related to a specific requirement; • not satisfactory, where one or more requirements are not evidenced in the annual return. This year has seen an overall improvement by HEIs in meeting the requirements and standards. However we did have concerns which resulted in intensifying our monitoring of a number of HEIs. Using the same quality threshold as last year would mean that last year’s figure of 75% well run courses would have risen to 96.6%. However, the bar has been raised and our threshold for intervention lowered, resulting in 46.6% of programmes falling into the middle category, as compared to


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i Fieldwork refers mainly to local authority, although not exclusively, statutory social work.

Social work education in England 2008-09 Executive Summary: Raising Standards

15% last year. These programmes are satisfactory but we are intensifying our scrutiny to ensure that any concerns are addressed and standards raised. The most significant improvement has been a reduction in the number of programmes failing to meet one or more requirements, from 11% (9 courses) to 3.4% (2 courses). The two courses in question have been subject to either a preliminary or full inspection and an agreed remedial action plan has been put in place and implemented to ensure full compliance with all standards and requirements. The five-year cycle of reapproval resulted in 105 courses being reapproved, with 58% of those programmes having conditions set for reapproval. This is an improvement on the last reporting period, when 70% of programmes had conditions set. HEIs continue to report a high level of employer participation in SWD courses, with the vast majority reporting improved employer engagement during this period with some impressive examples of good practice. However, as this is self-reporting by HEIs, coupled with what employers have told us directly and what the Social Work Taskforce reports, we consider that better partnerships with employers are needed. This is an area that we will focus on during our next reporting period. The involvement of people who use services and carers continues to improve, with increased participation in a range of activities and 10 (out of 29) courses commended at reapproval visits for innovation, although 12 courses were given recommendations for development in this area.

The Practice Learning element of the Social Work Degree (SWD) 3. Placements account for 50% of student learning and assessment time on the SWD and the availability of practice learning opportunities of the right type and quality is critical to effective training of future practitioners. A total of 13,718 practice learning opportunities took place in 2007–08, constituting over 1.6 million days. Placements in local authority social service departments were the most frequent, accounting for 47.4% of all placements, with voluntary agencies accounting for 24% and both of these showing a small reduction compared to 2006–07. The most frequent settings for placements were in fieldwork (41%)i and community settings (23%) and distribution across children and families, adults and mental health areas has remained broadly stable since 2005–06. There is significant regional variation but children’s services placements were most numerous in all regions. The percentage of placements in the ‘lower rate category’ (which is closely aligned with statutory placements) shows considerable regional variation, from 72.2% in the South East to 47.1% in the South West. However, the overall volume of lower rate/statutory placements appears stable over the last few years reflecting that supply per se is not the main concern with respect to statutory placements. Nevertheless, HEIs reported that they had struggled to find sufficient statutory placements of the required type (34% in child care, 25% in adult, 40 % in mental health). Concerns about quality persist, with 13 HEIs reporting that they had been compelled to use placements that they would have preferred not to, although only 0.8% of placements did not


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Executive Summary: Raising Standards

meet the HEI’s own quality assurance standards. Placement-related issues requiring action were highlighted for 17 HEIs as a result of annual monitoring and 9 as a result of the reapproval process. The GSCC will introduce mandatory quality standards for practice placements for the academic year starting September 2010. It is possible to conclude from the data that HEIs have overall become better at setting up and managing sufficient placements at a time when employer capacity for placement provision has come under considerable strain. The importance of robust and sustainable HEIemployer partnerships, as identified by the Social Work Task Force, is highlighted by the data from GSCC regulatory activity.

Outcomes for students on the Social Work Degree 4. A total of 10,951 students have achieved the qualification since the start of the SWD in 2003. This reflects an overall pass rate of 80.9%; a fail rate of 2–3% and withdrawal rate of 17%. As some students take longer than the expected two or three years to complete the degree it is difficult to compare a single year cohort with this overall picture, but pass rates to date for 2008–09 are higher than the previous year. Although it is too early to establish a trend, there are indications of increasing pass rates and reducing withdrawals as the SWD becomes more established. Employment-based postgraduate full time students have the highest pass rates (83%), and college-based undergraduate courses have the lowest pass rate (54.5%) and the highest referral, withdrawal and failure rates. Results analysed by age show consistency with the outcomes from last year with students under 20

years old having the lowest pass rate (53%) and highest rate of withdrawal (17.3%). Pass rates are higher amongst groups of white ethnic origins. Withdrawal rates have begun to equalise across different ethnic groups, but referral rates remain much higher for BME groups and students with disabilities have a higher deferral, referral and withdrawal rate. The differentials in pass rates between ethnic groups are narrowed once the final results of deferred and referred students are taken into account, but not between students with disabilities and those without. Female degree progression and achievement continues to out perform that of men in all areas, with higher pass rates and lower rates of fail, defer, refer and withdrawal. However, differentials have decreased somewhat since last year. Work is underway to understand the cause of differences in outcomes for different groups and to identify what steps HEIs can take to improve and equalise pass rates. HEIs will be required in the next round of annual monitoring to report on equality impact assessments in relation to both the selection and progress of students.

Entry of newly qualified social workers to the workforce and post-qualifying (PQ) training 5. Since the start of the SWD, 10,951 students have passed and 89% of these have registered with the GSCC. Of the cohort that successfully completed their training in 2007–08, 91% (4,054) have registered as qualified social workers with the GSCC. To date, 67% (2,963) have declared that they are in employment, compared with 61% of 2006–07 graduating students, although the latter rose to 74% as


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Executive Summary: Raising Standards

graduates declared their employment during the year and a similar increase is likely for the 2007–08 cohort. Figures for both years are higher than the figures to date from the start of the degree. Of those graduates that declared an employer, 89% (2,624) said they were employed in some sort of social care or social services work. This compares favourably with the 80% (1,763) figures from 2006–07. There is a rise in the number of graduating students moving into agency social care/services work, at 11% in 2007–08 compared with 6% in 2006–07. The figures for those declaring work outside of social care (7%) and those taking a gap in employment (3%) have also risen slightly. The majority of graduating students (67%) declare that they find employment between 0 and 6 months after finishing their course. The length of time taken by non-white graduates to find employment is slightly longer than for white graduates. However, we should also note that more than one third of registrants do not declare their ethnicity or employer details. Completing the initial degree and becoming a registered social worker is just the beginning, and continued learning to develop a fullyskilled and up-to-date practitioner is an important hallmark of a professional. The PQ training framework in place since 1991 closed in 2009 with 50,976 certificates having been issued to those successfully completing courses. The overall pass rate was 67% but there was a withdrawal rate of 33%, reflecting at least in part that many social workers took the Post-Qualifying Award part 1 as a requirement for pay progression and did not go on to complete the whole award.

A new PQ framework was introduced by the GSCC in 2006. It is offered at three academic levels (specialist, higher specialist and advanced) and in five areas of practice: Children and young people, their families and carers; Leadership and management; Practice education; Social work in mental health services; and Social work with adults. Up until July 2009, 286 courses had been approved by the GSCC across England, with London, by a considerable margin, being the region where the greatest number of courses are based (30%). During 2008–09 the GSCC approved 54 new courses, with some regions outside London having significant increases in courses. There have been 5,985 registrations on PQ courses, representing 7.6% of all GSCC registered social workers. A third of all courses have been developed to meet the needs of social workers working with children, young people, their families and carers; 23% for those specialising in work with adults; and 20% for social workers in mental health settings. More than half the enrolments are on courses specialising in work with children and families. Programmes specifically addressing leadership and management training account for 11% of all those courses approved and practice education courses just over 9%. Enrolment to leadership and management courses remains low, which is of concern given the needs identified in that area across the profession. By far the most popular level remains the specialist level, accounting for 155 of the 286 courses available and 8 out of 10 enrolments. However, only 58% of enrolments are for the full award, with many social workers completing the first (consolidation) module


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Executive Summary: Raising Standards

only, repeating the pattern observed with the old PQ framework. Social workers may go on to complete the full award in the future but have not registered for it at the current time. There has been a significant rise at higher specialist level in both the number of courses approved and the number of enrolments, partly due to the Mental Health PQ course being required for Approved Mental Health Practitioner status. Social workers over 45 are under-represented in PQ education, accounting for a third of enrolments, although they are 56% of GSCCregistered social workers. Women make up 80% of those enrolled on PQ courses and 77% of GSCC registrants. Active employer engagement is a requirement for all PQ courses but HEIs report variations, both regionally and in respect of different specialisms, in the participation of employers. Workload relief to enable social workers to undertake training, lack of ring fenced funding and availability of practice educators and assessors are all cited as obstacles of the take up of PQ training. Employer participation generally remains variable. The Social Work Task Force has pointed out how important it is for employers and educators to work together more closely to drive improvements in social work education. The pass rate for PQ courses in 2007–08 was over 83%. Numbers are as yet too small to identify trends but there appears to be a need to monitor the achievement of different ethnic groups and social workers with disability. Developments to the PQ framework in the light of feedback from employers and HEIs will be

taken forward and in particular the framework will be reviewed as part of taking forward the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force.


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Introduction The General Social Care Council (GSCC) is a Non Departmental Public Body established under the Care Standards Act 2000. The GSCC took over the role of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) in regulating social work training in England, as well as new functions as the social care workforce regulator for England, from 1 October 2001. It is sponsored by the Department of Health (DH) but also works closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families in delivering the children’s and young people’s care agenda. The GSCC works to protect the public and to improve the quality of social care services for the benefit of people who use services through regulation of the workforce and through its contribution to social work education. It has three main functions: • it issues and distributes codes of practice for social care workers and employers; • it maintains a register of social workers and social work students; and • it approves relevant social work training programmes. The GSCC’s function of regulating social work education involves a range of different activities, including: • deciding whether to accredit Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to deliver the Social Work Degree; • deciding whether to approve Social Work Degree courses; • undertaking annual monitoring of HEIs’ delivery of the Social Work Degree; • undertaking the reapproval cycle; • undertaking similar activities with respect to PQ courses for social workers.

The GSCC does not itself set the standards that those delivering the Social Work Degree (SWD) must meet, but rather ensures compliance in meeting these standards. The quality assurance process relies on HEIs self reporting, which has been problematic and is currently being reviewed for change.

Raising Standards: Social Work Education in England 2008–09 reports on the progression data collected by the GSCC during the course of undertaking its regulatory role in social work education and training during the reporting period of 2007–08. It also includes enrolment data for the period of 2008–09 to give the most up to date picture on student uptake of training. The different strands of data are weaved together to present an overall picture of the state of social work education at the present time. The report presents evidence with respect to the SWD and PQ courses, and relates this evidence to key policy initiatives and Government reviews to help inform the sector. The following report is divided into five sections. Section one focuses on students commencing the SWD, specifically reporting on the characteristics of entrants. Sections two and three focus on the delivery of the SWD, with the former reporting on the GSCC’s regulation of HEI-based delivery of the degree and the latter focusing on Practice Learning Opportunities, this division being made purely for reporting purposes. Section four reports on the attainment of students undertaking the SWD, whilst the final section turns to newly qualified social workers entering the workforce, and the delivery and uptake of courses delivered through the GSCC’s PQ framework. Whilst the reporting period is 2008–09, in some cases it has not been possible to report data for this period and the most recent


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Introduction

available data has been used. Whenever this has been the case this will be noted in the text.


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Policy Context Throughout 2008–09 there has been a significant Government focus on social work education. Following the tragic case of ‘Baby Peter’ the Government set up a review of national safeguarding led by Lord Laming3 which made key recommendations for strengthening qualifying and post-qualifying social work education. Amongst the recommendations made by Lord Laming were that the GSCC’s Codes of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers should be made mandatory, and that there should be reform of the current degree programme towards a system that allows for specialism in children’s social work, including statutory children’s social work placements after the first year. Further, the Government has announced the introduction of a new Masters level qualification for all social workers aimed at addressing the specific skills children’s social workers need in their first job. On the 8th December 2008, the Government set up a Social Work Task Force, chaired by Moira Gibb, to advise on the content of a comprehensive reform programme for the whole of the social work profession across both adult and children’s services. A key focus for the Task Force was initial and on-going education and training of social workers. The Task Force report and final recommendations4 were informed by range of evidence, including the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee’s report on social work education, Lord Laming’s report on Safeguarding and the Department of Health’s review of the national delivery bodies5, which aim to assess the fitness of those bodies against the future agenda for adult social care. The Social Work Task Force’s final report published in December 2009 made a number

of significant recommendations that will impact on social work education. The key recommendations are to achieve better training, improved working conditions, stronger leadership and independence, a reliable supply of confident and highly competent professionals, greater public awareness about what a social worker does, and better use of research and continuing professional development to inform frontline practice. The GSCC welcomes these reform recommendations and is already working closely with the Social Work Reform Board on proposals for implementation. Within the higher education sector there are a number of policy issues that will impact on social work education. The Government has announced a review of tuition fees that will evaluate the options to support universities who want an increase of up to £7000 a year to those students who need to avoid debt as a consequence of their higher education involvement. The pressure on universities has meant that some have needed to reconsider their economic and business strategy for the future of social work education. For example, one such institution has made the decision to close its social work department. Such decisions, in conjunction with the recession, have resulted in increased competition for existing places on social work courses. This increased competition comes at a time when the Government wishes to open up access to the professions and bring down barriers in areas – such as those in education – that limit the scope and ambition of many. The Government’s report Unleashing Aspiration: the final report of the panel on fair access to the professions6 (and responded to by Government in its report7) makes a number of


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Policy Context

recommendations to open up professions to those who would not normally have access. Social work has always attracted a diverse population, and this has been one of its strengths. Getting this balance right is something that the Taskforce has carefully considered in its final deliberations. The Government has laid down a number of challenges to the sector and we at the GSCC welcome our part in this, in delivering throughout the next year, more robust, transparent and consistent scrutiny of social work programmes and in raising standards in social work education.


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Section one Entry to social work training This section focuses on the entry point into initial social work training. The routes that are available to Qualified Social Worker status are outlined before the focus turns to the Social Work Degree (SWD). An overview is given of the SWD, including such data as the current number of approved degree courses. Following this, the characteristics of students entering the SWD during the reporting period are outlined and discussed.

Becoming a qualified social worker In order to practise as social worker in England it is a legal requirement to be registered with the GSCC. The GSCC, therefore, operates a gateway to the profession and has been tasked with doing so in order to ensure that quality standards are consistent across the workforce. It sets the minimum level entry requirements for practising social workers, including a requirement to hold a recognised qualification. Since 2003, this recognised qualification has been the Social Work Degree. The vast majority of those registered with the GSCC have a social work qualification which pre-dates the introduction of the SWD. Any previously qualified social worker who is no longer practising will be required to register with the GSCC before returning to work. However, it is not necessary for previously qualified social workers to re-qualify before registering with the GSCC. The GSCC registers those social workers who have attained any of the predecessor social work qualifications dating back to 1971 when the CCETSW started to regulate social work training. The GSCC also assesses applications for registration from individuals who have qualified overseas. The individual applicant’s qualification will be assessed for equivalency against the SWD.

In terms of encouraging people who wish to change their career to become a social worker, it is possible for those holding an undergraduate degree or equivalent level qualification to enter onto the two-year social work Masters degree. Employers currently provide a number of schemes to support those already working in social care to qualify as social workers. These include supporting employees through employment-based routes to a social work qualification or by sponsorship onto full time, college based courses8. Funding is provided to local authorities by central Government to support these schemes; this allocation is split between adults and children’s social workers, although it is not currently ring fenced. The following chart shows the proportion of students enrolling on different types of programme in 2008–09.

Figure 1 : Composition of 2008-09 Social Work Degree intake

College-based postgraduate full time 23.5% College-based postgraduate part time 0.8% College-based undergraduate full time 62.2% College-based undergraduate part time 3.0% Employment-based postgraduate full time 1.0% Employment-based postgraduate part time 0.7% Employment-based undergraduate full time 1.4% Employment-based undergraduate part time 7.4%


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entry to social work training

Figure 2 : Social Work Degree intake by year and course type 6000

Number of Students

5000

4000

3000

2000

1000

2007–08 2008–09

0 College Based

Employment based

Whilst the vast majority (85.7%) still study on college-based full time courses, there has been a slight increase over last year in the proportion studying on part time courses and particularly on employment-based courses, despite continuing national problems with rectruitment to such courses.

Undergraduate

Postgraduate

Past Time

Full Time

The Social Work Degree

With a data set of only five years it is difficult to establish reliable trends. However, indicative trends suggest that the ambition to secure more flexible routes to qualifying are at risk through, for example, employers’ reluctance to support part time training.

The selection process for entry to the SWD is stipulated by the DH (Requirements for social work training 2002). This includes requirements that entrants should possess appropriate personal and intellectual qualities to be social workers. All shortlisted applicants must be assessed through group or individual interviews that should involve employers and people who use services and their carers. As well as the HEI’s own academic entry requirements, all selected applicants must have achieved at least Key skills Level 2 in English and Mathematics.

Intake onto postgraduate courses is slightly down at 24.3%. However these slight changes in intake should be regarded with caution due to the lateness in the reporting by some HEIs, which means that total intakes for 2008–09 cannot yet be calculated.

Since the first student intake in September 2003, and up until September 2008, a total of 30,476 students have been enrolled, whilst 10,951 have qualified as social workers since the degree produced its first graduates in the summer of 2005.


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entry to social work training

Enrolment to the SWD for the academic year 2008–09 is 5,763 to date, a slight increase from last year’s final figure of 5,452. Regional enrolments remain relatively stable, apart for the North West which shows continuing expansion. A few universities have expanded numbers considerably which has implications for resources including provision of placements, and will be monitored.

under 90% of students are studying on full time, college-based courses.

Figure 4 : Approved Social Work Degree courses

Figure 3 : Social Work Degree intake by year and region 1200

1000

College-based postgraduate full time 26.0% College-based postgraduate part time 3.0% College-based undergraduate full time 33.0% College-based undergraduate part time 11.0% Distance learning undergraduate 0.0% Employment-based postgraduate full time 6.0% Employment-based postgraduate part time 3.0% Employment-based undergraduate full time 7.0% Employment-based undergraduate part time 11.0%

800

600

400

200 2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

East Midlands East of England London North East North West South East South West West Midlands Yorkshire & Humberside

There are now 266 approved degree courses delivered by 71 accredited universities and 9 associated HEIs. These include full time and part time, college-based, or employment-based courses and one distance learning course. The following chart shows the breakdown of different types of courses approved. Despite the diverse range of courses available, just

In the 2008–09 academic year a total of 13 new courses have been approved. 11 are at postgraduate level (4 college-based, full time; 3 college-based-part time; 2 employment-based, full time and 2 employment-based part-time). This demonstrates a trend in increasing availability of Masters-level courses, which now represent 38% of the total provision. The other two new courses are both undergraduate college-based – one full time and one part time. Due to the need to identify post graduate exit routes separately from Masters courses, 22 courses have also been added to the approved list since the previous report. These are not, though, newly approved.


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entry to social work training

the HEIs. In the longer term, if the national data base LeaRNS is adopted, student data will be imported automatically into LeaRNS where we will be able to download it directly. We are also in discussions with the Higher Education Statistics Agency to consider the possibility of drawing on information that they collect directly from HEIs. This has not been possible until now because ‘approved’ social work courses are not separately distinguished.

It is also interesting to note that 23, primarily part time and employment-based routes, did not recruit students this year. This is a decrease from 40 courses which did not recruit last year. Regional analysis demonstrates that there is a higher rate of non-recruitment in Yorkshire and Humberside; which accounts for 28% of courses not recruited to. This trend may have an impact on widening access to the degree, as traditionally such courses would attract people who may have caring or other responsibilities.

Age The degree replaces previous qualifying courses including the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), which had its last intake of students in September 2003. The DipSW and other previous awards remain equally recognised as appropriate qualifications for registration as a social worker on the GSCC Social Care Register. A further 27 DipSW programmes have been closed since September 2008. Fourteen programmes continue to support a total of 274 part time students and some deferred or referred students. The DipSW has not been considered in this analysis of intakes, progression and results.

Mature students continue to feature prominently in the intake onto the SWD. As can be seen from the chart below, students over the age of 25 account for 61% of total intake with those under the age of 20 accounting for 14.8%.

Figure 5 : Age ranges of Social Work Degree students 35 30

Who studies on the Social Work Degree? Unfortunately, as with last year, it has not been possible to make use of student disability statistics for the 2008–09 student intake. This is because disability data is collected from the Social Care Register application form and this information is not mandatory. Whilst student responses to the ethnicity data request have been reasonably good, disability responses have been low. Similarly, it has not been possible to collect data about the educational background of students entering the SWD. We are attempting to address this lack in three ways. For the 2009–10 intake GSCC will revert to obtaining data about students direct from

Percentage

25 20 15

10

5

0

Under 20

2007–08 2008–09

Between Between Between 20 and 24 25 and 34 35 and 44

Over 45


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i

Social Work Taskforce Interim report – Facing up ot the Task Dept. of Health & Dept. of Children’s Schools and Families. July 2009 ii A report on Consultation with Newly Qualified Social Workers, employers and those in Higher Education, The Children’s Workforce Development Council. January 2009

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entry to social work training

Whilst the age profile of students remains similar to 2007–2008, comparison with last year shows a small swing of 2% away from those under 25 to those between 25 and 44. What is clear is that there has been no further increase in school leavers entering social work training, which some had expected.

Figure 6 : Ethnicity of 2008-09 social work degree intake

Ethnicity This year one third (34%) of enrolling students chose not to provide ethnicity details, up 3% on last year. However, the proportion of nondisclosure and the data sample size is big enough to establish trends. Comparing data from the last two years, the percentage changes in most groups are very small. The most notable change is a drop of 4% in those identifying themselves as British, to 43.8%; a small drop in African students and a 0.5% increase in those from Caribbean backgrounds. The proportion of domestic vs. international students is not known. The 2001 population census compiled by the Office for National Statistics has been used as a point of comparison for the data gathered on the ethnicity of the 2008–09 SWD intake. When this comparison to the census data is made, the percentage intake from non-white ethnic groups into the SWD, 19%, is significantly above the national population distribution, 7.9%. This demonstrates the diverse range of students being recruited into social work. The census only identifies ethnicity that does not include ‘British’. However it would appear to be the case that white ethnic groups as a whole comprise a lower proportion of entrants to social work education and training, 81%, in comparison to the proportion of the national population distribution, 92.1%.

African 9.2% British 43.8% Caribbean 3.3% Indian 1.5% Irish 0.9% Not provided 34.7% Other 2.5% Other white 1.5% Pakistani 1.3% White and black african 0.3% White and black carribean 0.9%

Gender The reporting period has seen the continuing predominance of females entering social work training, with male enrolments at 13.6%. This reflects a small rise of 0.6% over last year – the first since the degree began. Similarly to other caring professions, the underrepresentation of men in social work has long been recognised as an issue for the sector. This is something to be addressed through marketing and publicity by Government and HEIs.

Discussion Overall the 2008–09 profile of student intake remains relatively unchanged in relation to 2007–08. Social work has traditionally had a good record in attracting a variety of applicants from different backgrounds in line with the


19

iii Social Work Taskforce final report ‘Building a safe, confident future’, From Secretaries of State from Det. Of Health and Dept. of Children’s Schools and Families iv House of commons Children’s Schools and Families Committee – Training of Children and Families Social Work. Seventh Report, Volume 1 (HV527-1) Page 27

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entry to social work training

Government’s aspirations outlined in the Milburn report9 and Higher Ambitions: the future of universities in a knowledge economy10. Action is needed to address the take up of flexible routes to access social work qualification and the proportions of men entering training.

Figure 7 : Social Work Degree enrolments by gender and year

accepted onto some SWD courses and questions regarding both the sufficiency of the current requirements and robustness of selection processes at some HEIs. Further research is taking place to clarify these issues. In such debates regarding the calibre of entrants to the SWD, it has sometimes been asserted that entry grades for social work are consistently lower than teaching. The available evidence suggests a more complex picture:

100

• there is great variety of A-level grade requirements according to the reputation and popularity of the HEI; • UCAS point requirements range from 128– 371 by comparison with teachers at 176–474iv; and; • 29% of entrants to the social work training already have a degree.

Percentage

80

60

40

20

0 2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Male Female

Students on the SWD continue to have a different profile from intakes on other degree courses.i There are higher proportion of mature students, students from black and minority ethnic origins, and women. 36% of students are caring for school age children. Almost half of all first year students report family or other unpaid caring responsibilities. Recent scrutiny – for example by the Children’s Workforce Development Councilii; joint priority review of social work education; the Social Work Task Forceiii and the Children and Families select committee11 – has raised serious concerns about the calibre of entrants being

Unfortunately the GSCC was unable to collect data about the academic entry level of new students last year. This problem has been addressed and the GSCC is ensuring that systems are in place to routinely collect data about the academic entry level of new students again from the 2009 intake forward. There are currently about 5 applicants for every 3 places on SWD courses.

Looking forward Continued interest and investment is apparent in the ways of attracting people into social work who would not previously have considered a career in the profession. Children’s Workforce Development Council are currently piloting a postgraduate course aimed at high achieving individuals who have not previously worked in the social work field. Over 100 graduates began their studies in autumn 2008. Subsequently the Government announced that the graduate


20

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entry to social work training

recruitment scheme will run for a further cohort of 200 graduates who commenced their studies in September 2009. Further, a new, employment-based pathway will be delivered across England from early 2011 providing a more flexible route for high quality graduates to complete their Masters degree and qualify as a social worker. Whilst the degree provision is still expanding, we recognise that capacity needs closer matching with workforce need. There are considerable concerns across the sector about the difficulties in obtaining accurate workforce data. The GSCC is working closely with Skills for Care and others to deliver a more accurate supply model to ensure we train appropriate numbers to meet future need.


21

Section two Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree This section, and the following section ‘Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities’, report on the GSCC’s regulation of the delivery of the Social Work Degree (SWD). This section focuses on the HEI-based delivery of the degree, whilst the following focuses on the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities. In this section, after giving an overview of the GSCC’s regulatory role with respect to the SWD, the outcomes of the GSCC’s annual monitoring, approval and reapproval processes for the reporting period are given. Following this more specific issues relating to the delivery of the degree will be reported on, such as the involvement of employers.

The GSCC’s regulatory role The GSCC currently employs a delegated model of regulation which gives responsibility for monitoring quality standards to universities. There are two key aspects to our regulatory function in this area: • initial approval and reapproval of the degree and; • annual monitoring of the quality assurance function of HEIs. This means that the data we are reporting is the outcome of an institution’s own self-reporting. There has been criticism from some employers that the GSCC’s regulatory approach in this respect is not sufficiently robust. In light of this the GSCC set up its own review of its model of regulation in early 2008. Through this review we have identified evidence that supports good regulation appropriate to different functions and tasks. The GSCC is now in the process of strengthening its regulatory role and will be consulting soon on changes to the way it monitors compliance to national standards and requirements.

The GSCC initially accredits HEIs to deliver the SWD. Before granting programme approval, which relates to individual courses, the GSCC assesses the proposals against the DH requirements for social work training, the National Occupational Standards and the Quality Assurance Agency benchmark statement for social work. Each provider is assessed every five years to determine whether the course should again be approved by the GSCC. These approval assessments may involve visits to the university by GSCC inspectors and by people who use services who are recruited by the GSCC. Under the annual monitoring programme, HEIs are required to provide the GSCC with annual monitoring data to help make judgements on how well programmes are continuing to meet approval criteria and requirements. HEIs are required to report annually to the GSCC to demonstrate that they are continuing to meet the criteria against which they were approved to deliver the SWD. These reports also ask for information on the number of students enrolled on the degree, the sufficiency and quality of practice learning and the evaluation that they have received from students. In making judgments on the annual performance of HEIs, the GSCC also takes into account the reports of external examiners and any concerns raised by stakeholders. From April 2010 such annual monitoring reports will be publicly accessible on the GSCC’s website. Inspections are only carried out where serious concerns arise that requirements and standards of education and training are not being met. The annual monitoring programme and reapproval cycle enables the GSCC to intervene to identify HEIs that are not delivering the degree to the appropriate standard.


22

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

In addition to these functions, the GSCC also manages and monitors the expenditure of DH funding provided for the SWD and remaining DipSW courses, this constituting a total of £27 million a year. DipSW programmes and universities offering approved SWD courses receive funding to support practice learning opportunities. Approved universities also receive funding towards the involvement of people who use services and carers in the design and delivery of the new degree. This expenditure has to be reported on by HEIs to the GSCC each year to ensure that the money is being used and managed appropriately.

Results of annual monitoring The formal status of all courses is ‘approved’ or ‘not approved.’ In last year’s Raising Standards we reported on three categories of monitoring outcomes: courses that were satisfactory; satisfactory with conditions; and courses where one or more requirements had not been met. These categories formed part of our internal risk assessment tool to guide our attention where there is most risk: they are not a formal grade but a work management tool in relation to our degree of confidence in the HEI to deliver against our standards. Building on our own on-going quality assurance developmental approach, in order to target non-compliance this year we have changed the emphasis placed upon these categories to: • those courses that are high performing across the range of requirements, and thus we are confident that they require no close monitoring over the next year; • overall satisfactory but requiring further focused development in specific requirement-related areas in order to protect a threatened requirement or to enhance course delivery; and

not satisfactory, where one or more of our requirements are not evidenced in the annual return and immediate remedial action is required, entailing an agreed action plan. The following monitoring outcomes are based on these categories to ensure that we intervene where we have concerns and leave those good courses and their HEIs to manage themselves. This year has seen an overall improvement by HEIs in meeting the requirements and standards. However it is difficult to compare to last year as our threshold for intervention has been lowered. Where last year a number of well-run programmes were judged to be good, this year some fall into the middle category of still remaining satisfactory but require closer monitoring. For example, last year we reported that 75% of programmes had courses that were well-run, but this year the figure is 50% (if we used last year’s quality threshold the 75% figure would have risen to 96.6%). However, because the bar has been raised and we are intensifying our monitoring activity, 46.6% of programmes fall under this middle category compared to 15% last year. Our expectations for quality improvement have increased. The reasons for those programmes escalating to the middle range (i.e. those programmes that are satisfactory but some concern remains or closer monitoring required) range from something very minor, such as not completing one of our forms correctly to concerns we may have about their practice placement provision. Therefore 50% are satisfactory and require no close monitoring, 46.6% require close monitoring but remain satisfactory and 3.4% do not meet one or more requirements and are therefore at risk of underperforming.


23

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

The GSCC takes its role in raising standards seriously and believes this approach will help programmes ultimately improve. The number of HEIs in the third category, i.e. non satisfactory, has dropped from 11% (9 HEIs) to 3.4%% (2 HEIs). In relation to the second category, the areas of most concern that required closer monitoring were: • not having sufficient qualified and experienced academic staff or practice assessors; • not receiving adequate information and data from the HEI; • not having sufficient resources in teaching and assessment; • inadequate review and audit, for example, not including feedback from students about their placements; and • lack of proper audit of the quality and relevance of practice placements. Less frequent, but still nonetheless important areas of follow up monitoring were: • sufficient data systems to monitoring student progress; • involvement of employers in the recruitment, teaching, assessment and evaluation of learning; • sufficient involvement of stakeholders and people who use services in the design, delivery and review of programmes; • where there were problems with a programme sufficient action was taken to reassure inspectors of their full compliance; and • having sufficient numbers of qualified social workers to undertake the assessment on the final placement.

Results of review and reapproval The SWD was introduced in 2003 and, therefore, last year witnessed the first wave of the five year reapproval process. The results of were reported in Raising Standards: Social Work Education in England 2007–08. This year has seen a considerable increase in the volume of programmes undergoing reapproval due to the volume of courses which commenced in 2004. Thus during this reporting period 105 courses were reapproved, with these courses being delivered by a total of 41 HEI’s. Out of these 41 HEIs, 11 received a visit from an inspector or inspectors as part of the reapproval process and the remaining 30 were reapproved through a paper assessment. Whether on not an HEI receives a visit or a paper assessment during the reapproval process is dependent on an assessment of risk. As reported last year we began utilising ‘visitors’ (people who use services and carers) to attend the reapproval visits with inspectors. Since last year we have increased our pool of people who use services and carers to act in the role of visitors. In those cases where a visit took place, all involved people who use services and carers as visitors. The majority of our reapproval processes were purposely designed to coincide with the HEIs’ own re-validation or internal review process. This avoids unnecessary cost in resources and effort. For this reason, four institutions that were due for reapproval were given interim reapproval so the validation and reapproval processes could be combined. On the whole, our reviews identified evidence of good internal quality assurance systems. Further, HEIs have used the opportunity provided by the reviews to examine their programme(s) and make changes where


24

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

improvements were needed. An increasing feature of the reapproval process was the feedback given by visitors to programme providers about the involvement of people who use services and carers. Although such feedback in some cases was very critical, it was well received and contributed to major improvements taking place. As a result of the reapproval process the GSCC can set ‘conditions for reapproval’ – actions that must be undertaken either before the programme can be reapproved or actions that will be followed up through the annual monitoring process. This reporting period saw 58% of programmes having conditions set, some 61 courses across 24 HEIs. This is a considerable improvement on the last reporting period when 70% of programmes had conditions set. This improvement would appear to be in large part due to our closer annual monitoring of programmes. The two areas where conditions were most commonly set were fitness to practice procedures and policies and a lack of quality assurance of practice placements. Other areas where conditions were made were: • up-to-date reading list and resources; • increased service user and employer engagement; • staffing resources; • student progression rates; • updating HEI course literature. In each case, discussion with the programme provider and close monitoring has taken place to ensure that these conditions will be met as part of our review of annual monitoring next year. If these programmes fail to comply then action will be taken and this could ultimately result in approval being withdrawn.

Dealing with concerns and complaints The GSCC has a formal concerns procedure to investigate situations where it is alleged that a higher education institution (HEI) is not meeting GSCC rules and requirements and this is not being addressed by the HEI. In the first instance a person contacting the GSCC with a concern about a course is advised to resolve this directly with the HEI. This could be through student representation /committees; people who use services and carer groups; management boards; complaints, appeals and whistle blowing procedures or other mechanisms published by the university. If the query or concern relates to a decision about competence or suitability to be a social worker, they are advised to access the HEIs formal complaints or appeals procedure. The GSCC has no remit to overturn decisions made by a university. Once a student has finished the HEI’s own complaints procedure they may contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, the body which adjudicates concerns from students about their education. If the concern is about how the course is being delivered or its outcomes, the person will be put in touch with a GSCC inspector. If it appears that there is a risk that standards and requirements are not being met, the inspector will investigate further and will initially work with the HEI to ensure any problems are resolved. Where there is evidence that the HEI is not meeting requirements or serious concerns have been raised and these are not being put right within an agreed timescale the GSCC will undertake a formal inspection. Most contacts are dealt with informally because the procedure is misunderstood by students.


25

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

Many people who contact the GSCC are expecting the GSCC to advocate for them in a dispute with their HEI or to change or influence assessment or suitability decisions. This is not the role of the GSCC. For the period 1 October 2007 to 30 September 2008 the GSCC received 29 expressions of concern from students. In most cases (23), following initial discussion with a regional inspector there was no further action by the GSCC because there was no evidence that GSCC requirements were not being met. In six cases, there appeared to be some evidence that GSCC requirements were not being met and regional inspectors carried out further enquiries with the HEIs. Five of these concerns have since resulted in no further action. In one case the regional inspector visited the HEI to conduct a preliminary investigation under stage two of the inspection process as described in part three of the Accreditation of Universities to Grant Degrees in Social Work, GSCC (2002). The investigation found that the HEI was meeting GSCC requirements but the regional inspector made some recommendations for improvement.

Participation of employers It is a DH requirement that employers are involved in selection to the SWD, whilst the GSCC requires that HEIs involve employers in education and training processes. HEIs are working toward increasing employer involvement across the SWD and 2007–08 reporting by HEIs to the GSCC indicated a continued high level of employer engagement in key aspects of courses.

Table 1 : HEIs reporting employer engagement in areas of Social Work Degree Area of Social Work Degree

HEI’s Reporting Employer Engagement (%)

Assessment of practice competence

97

Quality Assurance and Development

97

Student Recruitment and Selection

97

Teaching Students

97

Course Design

83

Preparation for Practice

73

Assessment of academic work

58

The estimated total number of employers’ staff involved in the SWD was 6,914, an increase from the estimated 5,155 who took part last year. In 2007–8, from 77 annual monitoring reports, 64 HEIs reported the involvement of employers had improved, with several citing the development of PQ’s awards, where formal partnerships are required, as a contributory factor to this improvement. A number of HEIs included particular examples of good practice. Thus one HEI reported that senior members of Learning and Development Departments of neighbouring local authorities were core members of their MSc Social Work Management Group and ensured that the operation of the course is rooted in the context of current service delivery. Further, this HEI reported that the Local Authorities work exceptionally hard with course staff in respect of practice learning opportunities and are central in ensuring provision of sufficient statutory placements. Only 7 universities reported their experience of employer engagement had been worse than the previous reporting period. Where this was the


26

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

case, 4 of the 7 universities included an explanation to account for their view of the situation. These explanations suggest that this decrease was relatively minor and/or had a specific explanation. For instance, one HEI commented that it was only a minor change and had been due to a key member of staff at an employer moving on. Thus, the vast majority of HEIs have reporting improved employer engagement during this period and there are some impressive examples of good practice. However, ‘improvement’ is a relative term and it is crucial that both the level and quality of employer involvement in the SWD continues to increase. This will be an area that the GSCC will continue to monitor closely.

Participation of people who use services and carers The last Raising Standards report described how people who use services and carers were involved in all aspects of the SWD in accordance with DH and GSCC requirements. According to these requirements, each HEI accredited to deliver the SWD must have in place an active network of prepared, supported and enabled participants so that the experience of people who use services and

careers may directly inform, shape, deliver and critically comment on social work education provision. The table below shows the percentage of HEIs who have involved such people in different aspects of the degree for the academic years 2005–06, 2006–07 and 2007–08. The involvement of people who use services and carers is widely acknowledged as one of the success stories of the SWD and it can be seen that improvements continued in 2007–08. Under most categories of involvement there has been an increase on what were already impressive figures. It is noteworthy that over half of all HEIs reported that they were engaging participants in direct academic course assessments. Marking, however construed, has always been perceived as an exclusively HEI tutordominated domain and, perhaps understandably, there has been some hesitation by senior HEI staff in opening out and entrusting others with this critical task at course level. Our data is therefore encouraging, suggesting that academia is moving, albeit gradually, in the right direction. Following our 2007–08 reapproval visits, the reapproval team of nominated inspectors and

Table 2 : Percentage of HEIs reporting participation in different aspects of the degree Percentage of HEIs reporting participation in these areas

Area

2005–06

2006–07

2007–08

Selection of students

90

90.6

93.5

Teaching

100

99

100

Assessing preparation for direct practice

64

64

70.1

Assessing competence to practice

88

76

84.4

Assessing academic work

43

43

50.7

Design of courses

76

84

85.7

Quality assurance of courses

88

88

100


27

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

visitors commended 10 (out of 29) HEIs for their innovative involvement of people who use services and carers. Student feedback at reapproval events typically highlighted the very challenging but rewarding experiences this entailed – such as being interviewed at selection, taught and assessed by service users and carers. One particular example of good practice was a case where a group of young care leavers had taken responsibility for making sure that student dissertation proposals met ethical research standards. Of course, not all HEIs are at the same level of development. In 12 (out of 29) cases we recommended areas for development. On one reapproval visit we concluded that the involvement of people who use services and carers had in the period since the last annual report fallen short of our requirements. In this case the HEI in question had to provide a remedial action plan.

Participation of people who use services and carers – use of DH funding For the 2007–08 academic year the Department of Health (DH) made a total of £680,000 available to HEIs as a contribution towards the cost of involving people who use services and carers in the design and delivery of the SWD. Eighty-four HEIs were each given £7,550 and informed that involvement should include: • consulting with people who use services and carers to make sure their needs and opinions are reflected in the design and development of courses; • making sure the views of people who use services and carers are taken into account in the assessment process; • involving people who use services and carers in important processes, including designing, delivering, developing and

reviewing courses; and • making sure that representatives of people who use services and carers are involved in the selection process. Most HEIs spent the funding on salaries for dedicated development and project workers (30%) or fees for participation (30%). Both represent a small increase (1%) from last year’s figures. There has been a small drop in payments for training for involvement, but this is to be expected if HEIs are using the same people from last year. Half of the HEIs spent at least their full funding allocation, with a considerable proportion (40%) spending more than the amount allocated. The average spent was just over £8,200. Some HEIs (17%) spent less than the amount allocated and this was addressed as part of the GSCC annual monitoring of their courses.

Participation of people who use services in the GSCC’s regulatory activity We have continued to develop our own commitment to involve people who use services and carers in our regulatory activity, focusing on reapproval visits. Of reapproval visits undertaken in 2007–08, all involved inspectors accompanied by a person who uses services or a career. Building on the work of the previous year and our considerable learning, we began to recruit to establish a much larger network of visitors, which now comprises 15 active participants. This work and the development of our involvement strategy are ongoing.


28

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

Looking forward In the last Raising Standards report we noted our concern that the requirement with respect to the European Computing Driving Licence (ECDL) was not being met on a number of programmes. When the SWD was introduced in 2002, it was decided that the best way for social workers to achieve essential IT skills was to require completion of the ECDL or equivalence. However, there have been concerns about the ECDL as the most suitable vehicle for ensuring IT competent social workers since its inception. Research was undertaken by both the GSCC and Higher Education Academy (Social Policy and Social Work Subject Centre), about its efficacy and appropriateness. When further changes were introduced to the ECDL identifying three different routes to qualification and learning outcomes these concerns were heightened. Following consultation with the DH, the Department of Children, Schools and Families and the HEI sector it was decided to change the requirement. HEIs will need to continue to ensure that robust arrangements are in place for all social work students to be IT competent by the end of their training based on the revised Quality Assurance Agency subject benchmark for social work issued in February 2008. This has strengthened ICT requirements and provides a broader and more meaningful test. As reported above we have now trained more users and carers as visitors to take part in our work. In future we hope to extend this to include employers and students and add another important dimension to the quality assurance system.


29

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree

Figure 8 : HEI use of funding for involvement of people who use services and carers Salaries for dedicated development/project workers to co-ordinate and support the strategy

Block payments through contracts to existing service user carer networks to provide a range of services to the course

Fees for service user and carer participation

Expenses to support service user and carer involvement

Infrastructure support, e.g. admin/IT/accommodation/ meetings

Training of service users and carers & others

Production/purchase of service user and carer led teaching materials

2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08

Service user led conference for students

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

Table 3 : HEI use of funding for involvement of people who use services and carers 2004–05

2005–06

2006–07

2007–08

Salaries for dedicated development/project workers to co-ordinate and support the strategy Block payments through contracts to existing service user carer networks to provide a range of services to the course

36%

29%

29%

30%

12%

16%

12%

12%

Fees for service user and carer participation

26%

26%

28%

30%

Expenses to support service user and carer involvement

9%

11%

13%

15%

Infrastructure support, e.g. admin/IT/accommodation/meetings

8%

10%

8%

6%

Training of service users and carers & others

5%

4%

4%

3%

Production/purchase of service user and carer led teaching materials

3%

3%

3%

2%

Service user led conference for students

1%

0%

0%

1%


30

Spotlight visitors

As reported in this section, during the reporting period we have been increasing the use of ‘visitors’, people who use services and carers, to the point where every inspector is now accompanied by such a visitor on reapproval visits. As part of this work we have gathered feedback from individuals who have been trained as visitors or who have been involved as visitors in reapproval visits to ensure that we learn from their experience. In terms of feedback on the training that visitors have received, this has been very positive: “I attended two training days… both of which were useful and interesting” “I have attended the training sessions by the GSCC for users and carers over the past twelve months. These sessions have been very valuable and personally empowering to me. The workshops have been a very effective way of raising user and carer awareness and in giving perspective on issues and services. I have gained a general broad overview of current thinking and philosophy and developed specific skills which I feel I can apply in general situations”.

For those individuals who have been involved in reapproval visits the experience has also been positive, and they have reported that they felt that they had a real input into reapproval decisions: “We [the visitors and the inspector] talked and teased out our impressions and perceptions and [the inspector] let us be involved at all levels. She made us both feel that she valued our contribution, and that she had benefited from having us two along. I look forward to maybe being involved in that process again”. “I felt and integral member of the team and was respected as such by both the GSCC Inspectors, and the University”. One visitor stressed the extent to which this role had enhanced their own self-image: “It was good to find myself in a situation where my experience had become expertise and in this sense I was given the feeling of having found my feet in life after some very difficult years in the past. My morale has been helped no end not least because of the prestige of representing the GSCC at degree reapproval events”. The only negative comment received has been on the intensity and exhausting nature of the work: “one thing I found – a bit too much rushing around”


31

Section three Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities This section reports on the GSCC’s regulation of the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities, a crucial part of initial social worker training. After setting out the requirements that those delivering the Social Work Degree have to meet for such practice learning opportunities, this section will report on the supply and location of placements that were undertaken during the reporting period and the data that the GSCC has concerning the quality of these placements.

Requirements and funding The DH and GSCC requirements for the SWD state that each student must: • undertake a minimum of 200 days practice learning during their course; • have experience in at least two practice settings working with at least two different types of people who use services and carers; • have experience of statutory social work tasks involving legal interventions; • be assessed as competent and safe to practise by a qualified and experienced social worker; and • make sure that those responsible for the final assessment that a student is qualified to practise include qualified and experienced social workers. The Quality Assurance Agency also provides guidance to HEIs, specifically section 9 of the code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education, entitled ‘Work-based and placement learning’. To help support practice learning HEIs receive DH funding administered by the GSCC using a formula for the distribution and auditing of Daily Placement Fees. Daily Placement Fees are allocated via HEIs to agencies providing

Practice Learning Opportunities based on a low rate/high rate criteria (see below for more details). The GSCC’s quality assurance work around practice leaning can be broken down into four aspects: • collection and analysing daily placement fee data; • scrutiny and evaluation through annual monitoring and five yearly reapproval exercises; • responding to practice learning related concerns; and • the scoping, development and promotion of national standardised quality assurance tools and criteria.

Practice Learning Opportunities A total of 13,718 practice learning opportunities took place in 2007–08 , constituting over 1.6 million days. Of these 13,718, 42% were first placements, 39% were second placements, 17% were third placements and 2% were fourth placements12. Just over 1% were repeat or extended placements, the same figure as last year.

Where do Practice Learning Opportunities take place? A crucial aspect of the practice learning opportunity is ‘where’ the student’s placement takes place. Here we report the data that we have in this respect, including the type of agency where placements were undertaken, whether placements have been classified as high-rate or low-rate for funding purposes and the focus of service of the agency where the placement took place.


32

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Placements by Agency The agency categories used here were determined by the practice learning taskforce, which was a DH initiative instigated with the purpose of generating first-class practice opportunities for students undertaking the (then) new SWD. During the reporting period the most frequently-occurring location for practice learning opportunities were local authority social service departments, with such placements accounting for 47.4% of all placements. This is a small reduction of 1% compared to 2006–07. Similarly, in comparison to 2006–07, there was also a small reduction in placements undertaken in voluntary agencies, to 24% of all placements, and health, to 2.9% of all placements. The figure for education has risen slightly to 3%, whilst there has been a rise of just over 1% for placements taken in private agencies to 6.3% of all places.

Table 4 : Placements by agency type Agency Type

Total

Total (%)

Health

396

2.9%

Local Authority SSD

6506

47.4%

Local Education authority

411

3%

Non Statutory Unspecified

1556

11.3%

Other

189

1.4%

Probation Service

84

0.6%

Private Agency

859

6.3%

Statutory Unspecified

362

2.6%

Unknown

64

0.5%

Voluntary Agency

3290

24%

Grand Total

13,718

Higher- (non-statutory) and lower-rate (statutory) placements A change in terminology has taken place since last year’s report in terms of funding. Placements that were referred to last year as ‘statutory’ are now referred to as ‘lower rate’, whilst those previously described as ‘non-statutory’ are now referred to as ‘higher rate’. These terms relate to technical definitions which are used for the purpose of allocating funding. The reason for this change in terminology is that there is currently a lack of clarity concerning what constitutes a statutory placement. The GSCC is currently involved in work to reach agreement on such a definition (discussed further in ‘Looking foward’ below). All placements fall into the lower rate category unless the HEI is satisfied that the organisation providing the placement has charitable status, private company status or is led by people who use services or carers. If the organisation falls into the lower rate category the organisation receives £18 per day per student. If the organisation falls into the higher rate category they receive £28 per day per student. Data for this reporting year showed that 57% of placements were in the lower rate (statutory) category and 43% were in the higher rate (nonstatutory) category. This is very similar to last year, when 58% were in the statutory (lower rate) and 42% were in the non-statutory (higher rate) categories.

Regional variations in higher rate/lower rate categorisation Considerable regional variation is noticeable in the percentage of placements that fall into the lower rate and higher rate categories. The lowest percentage of placements in the low rate category was in the South West, with 47.1% of placements, whilst the highest percentage of placements falling in to the low rate category was in the South East, with 72.2% of placements.


33

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Considerable concern has been expressed recently concerning the difficulty of obtaining statutory placements. Whilst, as discussed above, it is not possible to equate a placement falling into the ‘lower rate’ category with a ‘statutory placement’, the volume of placements falling into the lower rate category would provide some evidence to suggest that a considerable volume of statutory placements are still being obtained. This will be discussed in more detail later in this section.

Table 5 : Degree PLOs Degree PLOs

2004– 05

2005– 06

2006– 07

2007– 08

Lower rate non/statutory

51

56

58

57

Higher rate statutory

49

44

42

43

Figure 9 : Degree PLOs 80

70

60

Percentage

50

40

30

20

10

0

2004–05

lower rate statutory higher rate on statutory

2005–06

2006–07

2007–08


34

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Figure 10 : Regional sector split for PLOs – academic year 2007–08 Yorkshire & Humberside

West Midlands

South West

South East

North West

North East

London

East of England

2006–07 statutory 2006–07 non-statutory 2007–08 statutory 2007–08 non-statutory

East Midlands

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Percentage

Table 6 : Regional sector split for PLOs 2006–07 statutory

non-statutory

2007–08 statutory

non-statutory

Yorkshire & Humberside

54.9

45.1

53.7

46.3

West Midlands

59.5

40.5

55.3

44.7

South West

51.9

48.2

47.1

52.9

South East

74.7

25.3

72.2

27.8

North West

46.3

53.7

47.2

52.8

North East

64.8

35.2

66.7

33.3

London

57.1

41.9

54.8

44

East of England

56.4

43.6

56.5

43.5

East Midlands

62.7

37.3

56.7

43.3


35

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Figure 11 : PLOs by setting (percentage)

Figure 12 : Degree PLOs (England)

Adoption/fostering

Adult services

Asylum seekers

Work with careres

Children & families

Child protection

Fieldwork 41.0% Community 23.0% Day care 8.0% Residential 10.0% Multiple settings 11.0% Others 8.0%

Drug/alcohol/substance misuse

Domestic violence

Education social work

Hospital social work

‘Setting’ and focus of service

Housing welfare

The data on ‘setting’ and ‘focus of service’ is self-declared by HEIs. We have included a further category, ‘day care’, in our reporting of placements by focus of service this year. Last year the placements falling into this category were reported under the category ‘other’. However, due to the volume of placements which fall into this category it was decided to include this separately this year.

Learning disabilities

Learning difficulties

Mediation work

Mental Health

Offenders

Older people’s services

Table 7 : PLOs by setting Physical disabilities

Setting

Percentage

Fieldwork

41

Community

23

Day Care

8

Residential

10

Multiple settings

11

Others

8

Sensory impairment

Young offenders

Other

Multiple

2005–06 2006–07 2007–08

Unknown

0

5

10

15 Percentage

20

25

30


36

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

‘Focus of service’ refers to the service user group or the issue that the agency where the placement is undertaken is focused upon. Areas with notable relative decreases in placements compared to last year include hospital social work and Educational social work. In contrast areas with relative increases include placements with adult services and placements with children and families services.

In the following graph the data concerning focus of service has been grouped together into three broad categories – Children & families, Adults and Mental health. These three categories do not encompass all the focus of service categories, and thus some data is excluded from the broad categories.13 This broad grouping produces a fairly stable picture from 2005–06 through 2007–08 .

Table 8 : PLO focus of service

2005– 06

2006– 07

2007– 08

Adoption / fostering

1

2.1

2

Adult services

6.7

9.7

10.8

Asylum seekers

1.5

0.9

1

Work with carers

2.3

1

1

Children & families

27.5

27.3

28.9

Child protection

0.9

1.6

1.8

Drug/alcohol/substance misuse

3

3.3

3.3

Domestic violence

1.6

1.1

1.5

Educational social work

3.1

2.4

1.8

Hospital social work

2.4

2.1

1.4

Housing welfare

2.4

2.3

2.3

Learning disabilities

6.6

5.1

5.4

Learning difficulties

0.7

1

0.9

Mediation work

0.5

0.2

0.1

Mental health

11

10.2

10.5

Offenders

1.3

1

1

Older people’s services

8.3

6.4

Physical disabilities

2.2

Sensory impairment

Figure 13 : Broad categories for PLO focus by academic year 40

Percentage

35

30

25

20

15 2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Adults Children & families Mental health

Table 9 : Academic Year

Adults

Children & families

Mental Health

2005–06

18.7%

37.7%

18.3%

6.1

2006–07

19.5%

37.4%

16.6%

1.9

2

2007–08

20.2%

39.3%

16.8%

0.4

0.5

0.4

Young offenders

2

2

2.2

Other

0.9

3

3.3

Multiple

8.5

7.7

8.2

Unknown

5.1

7

4.2

When this data is considered by region, differences in the distribution of placements across these three categories can be identified. Thus placements in adult services range from a 12.7% in the North East to 30% in the South


37

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Multi-disciplinary and black and minority ethnic experience

East; placements in Children & families from 33.5% in the East Midlands to 43.1% in the East of England; and placements in mental health services from 13.2% in the South West to 26% in the East of England. In all regions, however, the most frequently occurring focus of service of placements was in children & families services.

Of the placements provided, HEIs reported that almost 71% offered a multi-disciplinary experience, where the student has experience of working within and across teams from different disciplines, such as nursing, psychology and teaching. This is a marked increase compared with 62.5% reported last year. Data is also collected on whether the placement provider works specifically with black and minority ethnic groups. In 2007–08 the number rose to just under 5% from a figure of just under 4% in 2006–07.

Table 10 : Region name

Adults

Children & Families

Mental Health

East Midlands

17.2

33.4

16.8

East of England

15.3

43.1

26.0

London

16.1

41.5

18.3

North East

12.7

34.3

19.5

North West

20.4

37.6

18.7

South East

29.9

40.3

15.2

South West

20.5

36.4

13.1

West Midlands

24.1

42.6

13.5

Yorkshire & Humber

16.9

41.0

13.4

Figure 14 : Broad categories for 2007–08 PLO focus by region East Midlands

East of England

London

North East

North West

South East

South West

West Midlands

Adults Children Mental health

Yorkshire & Humberside

0

10

20

30 Percentage

40

50


38

Spotlight a student reflects on their first placement

I have completed my first year placement of my social work training in a voluntary sector setting and I am about to go on to my second year placement in a statutory setting. My first placement was for a voluntary organisation that provides counselling, advice and information, art therapy, group work and support for young people who have been affected by crime. The organisation offers support to young people who live, work or study in the inner city area in which the voluntary organisation is based. This small charity offers support to over 1,200 young people every year as well as signposting clients on to other organisations. Clients receiving support from the service may have a variety of presenting issues such as anger management issues, abuse, alcohol and substance misuse, mental health concerns/illness, refugees, homelessness, bullying, victims of rape, indecent assault and much more. Most of the work that I focused on during my placement was on a project that provides support to children, young people and their families who had been affected by crime. This work involved working alongside agencies such as the Police, Youth Offending Team, CAMHS,Social Services and various other institutes.

I enjoyed the work I was doing and aimed to support individuals by offering one-to-one support sessions, referring them on for counselling, developing strategies and skills for dealing with conflict in non-violent ways, promoting better communication and a wide range of group and outside activities. I have had great learning opportunities and I was always well supported by my supervisor, Long Arm Practice Teacher and various members of staff throughout the organisation. Some cases were more difficult than others and I was always given the opportunity to take the lead on interesting and quite complex cases with the support of my supervisor. As my placement was in a voluntary setting alongside clinicians, I felt myself constantly reminding members of staff that I was expected to train as a social worker and not a therapist. This was difficult, as I had to explain and educate the staff team on what social work is, how we train as professionals and how social work values may differ to the values of a therapist. Finding the right placement is crucial for a student as the experience gained on placement is what qualified students bring to their next ‘real job role’. Service user feedback and reflection is certainly important as is values, ethics, skills for assessing need and risk, and excellent communication skills. I am looking forward to my second placement in a statutory setting so I can compare the two and look at the advantages and disadvantages of statutory and voluntary placements.


39

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Monitoring placements – sufficiency, supply and demand Unduly late starts of placements can have considerable adverse consequences for students. Ultimately such late starts could delay progression, qualification and appointment to a first post. HEIs themselves determine at what point a placement becomes a late start. During the reporting period just under 2% of placements were reported as starting late. This constituted an increase from the previous year when 0.04% were reported as late starts by HEIs. However, this is still a considerable improvement on two years ago when 8% did so. This data bears out regional intelligence that ensuring cohorts are not starting late is a priority for placement cocoordinators. 34% of HEIs reported that they had struggled to find sufficient statutory child care placements of the required type; 25% reported difficulty in finding adult services statutory type placements and 40% found it hard to find mental health statutory settings. This does not mean that these HEIs did not eventually find such placements, only that obtaining them was far from straightforward, with difficulties being reported in relation to sites where such placements opportunities had previously been undertaken. Attempting to obtain suitable statutory childcare placements has consistently been reported to the GSCC as a difficulty over a number of years. However, this year our data suggests that the problem has now begun to extend to all statutory services. HEI placement coordinators attribute this difficulty to new ways of delivering adult and mental health services, which has caused a decrease in the number of traditional standardised settings which once hosted a social work student. Competition from other allied professional

courses which are also attempting to find placements for their students would also appear to have exacerbated shortfalls in supply. It is a DH requirement that each student must have experience ‘of statutory social work tasks involving legal interventions’ during their degree. Over half (57%) of all placements were ‘low rate’ (previously statutory) as defined by Daily Placement Funding eligibility criteria. Further, it is worth highlighting that 77% of final placements were defined as low rate. It should be noted, though, that this is not the same as saying that 57% or 77% of all such placements provided direct opportunities to learn about safeguarding non-consensual assessment of risk. Another crucial aspect of practice learning opportunities is the role of the practice educator. HEIs need to ensure that a suitably experienced practice educator is available to teach supervise, mentor and assess a student. 17% of HEIs found it hard to find suitable practice educator personnel for child care settings; for adult services it was 12% and for mental health settings it was 16%. This problem is partially adressed by the use of offsite practice educators, where the practice educator is located outside the placement. Offsite practice educators covered 28% of all placements. A student is required to be directly assessed by a qualified social worker on at least one major placement over the two hundred days of their practice learning. Our guidance is that this ought to be for the final placement. HEIs report that 98% of final placement students were assessed by an experienced and qualified social worker. During the reporting period just under 3% of placements broke down, a similar figure to the


40

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

last reporting year. Only 165 (1.2%) of placements encountered delays in finishing on time. A slightly higher number (175) failed to present to the relevant target examination board, the difference between the two figures (10) is likely to be due to students missing the examination board for issues that arose after the end of the placement. The number of students failing to present to the relevant target examination board reduced considerably from the previous year (807 or 7%), even though the student population increased during this period. The GSCC does become aware of individual students who prove difficult to place and who endure considerable delays. However, these constitute a small minority and there is often a specific history and set of circumstances attached to the situation. There were 176 extended or repeat placements (1.9% of the total) where the student involved was required to demonstrate further their capabilities before passing. Of the 238 students removed from their courses for academic failure or of the 25 students removed following misconduct procedures, 8 were for practice learning capability or practice placement related suitability reasons. Our data indicates that the vast majority of students do obtain a placement and complete it on time. In all aspects there seems to have been a slight improvement since the previous reporting year. It is possible to conclude from the data that HEIs have overall become better at setting up and managing the sufficient placements in what has become a very difficult and challenging climate.

Monitoring practice learning – quality Our data indicates that for the reporting year in question, although there were some regional

exceptions, the demand for placements was met. Ninety five per cent of HEIs reported that they had systematically audited placement opportunities and in total had rejected as unsuitable only 39 placements out of over 13,000. However, thirteen HEIs reported that they had been compelled to use placements that they would have preferred not to, amounting to a total of 41 such placements. Presumably these would have been placements that met baseline requirements and were, therefore, acceptable but were not perceived to be fully meeting individual student needs. The vast majority of HEIs (97%) reported that they adhered to the QAA code of practice for work-based assessment. All HEIs reported that they had systems in place to receive feedback about the placement experience. Mostly these systems were based on expected receipt of student (94%) and practice educator (92%) critical commentary. In approximately half of cases tutors also provide feedback. Actual feedback return rates were reported as reasonably high for students (71%) and less so for practice educators (58%). Placement feedback is typically examined by the HEI placement coordinator and, where they have them, a practice assessment panel. Over 70% of HEIs said that their external examiners also commented on practice learning provision. The conclusion from this is that only 112 (0.8%) HEIs used placements that were adjudged not to have met the HEIs own quality assurance standards (last year’s report noted 0.7%) and almost half of all HEIs reported that they would not be using at least one of those placements again. It is worth emphasising that this means that 99.2% of placements were meeting the HEIs own quality assurance standards.


41

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

GSCC responses to practice learning concerns GSCC inspectors are often contacted by student regarding placement matters and their entitlements. The GSCC treated as a ‘preconcern’ contact by 6 students during the reporting period with complaints or queries involving, at least in part, placement related matters. ‘Pre-concern’ status flags up the possibility that a formal investigation may need to be undertaken into whether our requirements are being met. Three formal concerns about or including placement matters were raised where the GSCC decided to investigate further. One involved a complaint about a late placement; another was about removal from a placement; and another was about inadequate placement supervision. For annual monitoring purposes (for more information see Section 2 ‘Regulating the delivery of the Social Work Degree’), seventeen HEIs (18%) were required to develop an action plan to monitor closely their continuing compliance with placement related requirements. While annual reporting was satisfactory the GSCC identified potential risks emerging with respect to DH requirement J (which cover the range of placement settings, user groups and statutory social work experience) in 7 cases; and the GSCC requirements B1, B3 and B4 (which cover practice educator resources and availability of qualified social workers to assess students) in 17 cases. Of the 35 HEIs reapproved during the 07/08 academic year the nominated inspector specified in nine cases that requirements relating to practice learning had to be developed further or carefully monitored.

Supervision and assessment An important aspect of practice learning is how the placement is supervised and assessed. One area that the GSCC is able to report on in this respect is the volume of placements that involved on-site assessment, where the practice educator is based at the placement agency, and off-site assessment, where the practice educator is located outside the placement. It needs to be emphasised that neither of these is in and of itself superior to the other. Off-site assessment often works well and enables students to gain experience of, for example, a voluntary or multi-disciplinary team that may not have a suitable practice educator on-site. However, such arrangements do need careful planning and monitoring to ensure there is not confusion about the roles and responsibilities of different supervisors. Overall, 72% of placements were assessed onfield – however there were noticeable regional differences in this on-field/off-field split.


42

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Figure 15 : Regional split for assessment academic year 2007–08 Yorkshire & Humberside

West Midlands

South West

South East

North West

North East

London

East of England

2006–07 on-site 2006–07 off-site 2007–08 on-site 2007–08 off-site

East Midlands

0

20

40

60

80

100

120

Percentage

Table 6 : Regional split for assessment academic year 2007–08 2006–07 on-site

off-site

2007–08 on-site

off-site

Yorkshire & Humberside

87.4

11.7

79

21

West Midlands

85.4

10.7

89.3

10.7

South West

67.2

32.8

65.4

34.6

South East

55.9

44.1

45.7

54.3

North West

79.5

20.3

80.9

19.1

North East

95.3

4.5

99.4

0.6

London

86.4

13.3

80.5

19.5

East of England

59.7

38.8

59.1

40.9

East Midlands

64.2

35.8

57.5

42.5


43

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

Discussion Placements account for 50% of student learning and assessment time on the SWD and are the heart of training. For the vast majority of students placements make or break their experience of professional study and being on placement is what they value most. All university- or college-based learning should be geared to the application of theory and method to the placement setting. This is to enable the student to demonstrate and be assessed as to their commitment, skills and capabilities to become a qualified and registered social worker. For this to happen it is essential that the available practice learning opportunities are of the right type, offering a range of work experience involving the key social work roles, and appropriate to the student’s progression level and specific learning needs. The placement should also be overseen and supervised by one or more suitably experienced and qualified practice educators. While it is for HEIs to make sure that placements are of a good quality and that there are sufficient numbers of practice educators to run them, they cannot meet these obligations without robust and sustainable employer partnerships as expressed through, for example, local service level agreements. Employer capacity for placement provision has come under considerable strain over the last year because of, amongst other factors, staff shortages, reorganisation of how services are delivered, and the need to prioritise front line services. It has been reported to us that the loss of the local authority performance indicator has negatively impacted on supply. Given increasing student numbers and the general retrenchment of known previously used placement providers, placement coordinators will have spent considerable time locating new

ones. Locating and creating new placements is a mixed blessing: anecdotally, some placement coordinators have reported that they routinely need to replace up to a third of all previously used placements for every new cohort with untested locations – an unsustainable method of ensuring supply in the long run. Who is an experienced and qualified practice educator as opposed to a qualified and experienced social worker is currently a matter for HEIs and agency partners to define. Recent, unpublished, research commissioned by Skills for Care officers on behalf of the Social Work Development Partnership indicates that based on a provisional survey of local authorities, of those staff who are deemed to be qualified to take students (their ‘practice learning pool’) 34% of their practice educators charged with the responsibility of making assessment decisions hold the practice teaching award (PTA); 17% now hold the ‘enabling others’ (EO) PQ qualification; 35% have undertaken at least five days local training. Twelve per cent of practice educators have undertaken less then five days training. This data needs to be treated with caution since it does not tell us anything about those people who assess students who have no practice educator qualification at all and it only covers local authorities. The data also suggest that 44% of first placements are overseen by a PTA holder; for the intermediate placement it is 51% and for final placement it is 57%. The continuing prevalence of PTA holders – in practice learning provision is bound to diminish over time. The new higher specialist Practice Educator award as not yet had time to make an impact.


44

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

All of the DH and GSCC requirements in relation to practice learning have been subject to increased scrutiny over this reporting year. Historically HEIs have interpreted and adapted these requirements differently according to their local context and the available supply. Recent years have seen the social work landscape change dramatically, inevitably affecting not just the supply but also the nature of placement provision. The DH requirements were framed in a very different social work landscape. Over the years practice settings and the way social workers provide services have undergone considerable changes so that interpreting and applying the DH and GSCC rules have become increasingly problematic. Areas where the GSCC has continued concerns nationally regarding practice learning opportunities include: • the sufficiency of supply and demand. Overall placement need increased from 12,698 in 06/07 to 13,718 in 2007–08; • the resourcing and costs of placement management and provision. In 2006–07 HEIs received DH funding administered by the GSCC amounting to a total of £20.5 million. For 2007–08 this was £25.2 million. The DH funding, used for agency daily placement fees and HEI placement administrative costs, has only been intended to be a contribution to overall cost of provision; • the range of suitable learning opportunities for different levels of students, including just what is deemed to be a placement entailing statutory tasks and legal interventions; • the suitability, expertise, support and

availability of qualified practice educators and complementary work based practice supervisors.

Looking forward One of the key underlying issues behind recent debates concerning the quality of social work education has been a divergence of expectations in just what initial social work training should prepare a student for. Specifically, this divergence has focused on the qualifying student’s readiness to practise and just how the final placement in particular should prepare a student for employment. Broadly speaking, this may be described as an employer/HEI difference of perspective. A range of stakeholders have continued to explore these contrasting perspectives throughout the year. DH and GSCC requirements relating to practice learning and its audit and monitoring are presently subject to critical reviews both within the GSCC and externally. However any revision to practice learning requirements will have to be integrated into broader changes regarding the curriculum and course delivery. In the last Raising Standards report we drew attention to the need for a clearer definition of: • what constitutes a ‘statutory placement’; • whether there is a need for statutory placements to be a prescribed number of days; • a recommendation to be taken regarding whether statutory placements should be the final placement; and • how the provision of (redefined) statutory experience within practice learning can be strengthened for each student.


45

Social work education in England 2008-09 Regulating the delivery of Practice Learning Opportunities

In following up these concerns, throughout the reporting year the GSCC has worked with key partners – in particular Skills for Care and the Children Workforce Development Council, but also representative bodies such as the National organisation for Practice teaching, the British Association of Social Workers, the Joint University Council Social work Education Committee and Learn to Care – to scope, establish and raise shared standards across a number of critical practice learning issues via four projects. • The GSCC are one of the co-authors of the widely disseminated guidance on the Quality Assurance for Practice Learning (QAPL) which has set out national benchmark standards for the audit and monitoring of placements. During the reporting period we were actively involved with our partners in writing, consulting and finally having endorsed the standards and the audit and monitoring tool. A significant number of HEIs are now already using QAPL. We will make the use of the standards mandatory for all HEIs by the 2010–11 academic year for reporting purposes. QAPL will provide for the first time a method to establish and measure national consistency for practice learning. • We also worked closely with Skills for Care, ITC contactors and user and reference group participants to develop LeARNs, the national internet based database which will embed both QAPL and the process for monitoring daily placement fee expenditure. This is now at its roll out stage. Around 40 HEIs have expressed a wish to implement LeARNs and nine early ‘adopters’ are proceeding this year. • We also began working with our partners on proposals for a national set of standards

and learning outcomes for the training of practice educators which goes beyond the current ‘enabling others’ module. The standards have now been endorsed by the National Social Work Development Board and demonstration projects from consortia of employers and HEI s in order to propose implement and evaluate a variety of pathways are underway; • Following the September 2008 national workshops on the re-definition of statutory social work task and legal interventions (reported in last year’s publication) we have worked with our partners to clarify what is meant by statutory social work. This work is ongoing and will report spring 2010.


46

Section four Progression and achievement on the Social Work Degree In this section we will report on the outcomes for students who were due to finish the Social Work Degree (SWD) during the reporting period. After reporting the overall data in this respect, this outcome data will then be broken down in relation to student characteristics.

Progression and achievement A total of 13,144 students have achieved the qualification since the start of the SWD in 2003. This reflects an overall pass rate of 80.9%; a fail rate or 2–3% and withdrawal rate of 17%. Due to the different times taken to complete the degree (between 2–6 years) the pass rate per cohort is difficult to estimate. Some students will take longer than the expected 2 or 3 years to complete the course for a variety of reasons. They may need extra time to complete assignments or placements (‘defer’) or be given a second chance to retake failed pieces of work (‘refer’). What we do know is that of the 2,582 students enrolling in 2003–04, 2,469 now have final results. Of these 77.7% have passed, 18.9% withdrawn and 3.4% have failed.

Year by year analysis enables us to look more closely at the progression and achievement of different groups of students through their training. Results are not complete at time of writing for the 2008–09 academic year, so this data focuses on 60% of results received up to and including the summer of 2009 when 2,669 students successfully graduated. The overall pass rate for each cohort will eventually be higher as those that have referred and deferred come through the system. 11% of students had withdrawn and 1.6% have failed at this point; the remaining 20% had referred or deferred. Based on 60% of exam results to date the initial results for 2008–09 are identified above. They show a higher pass and fail rate and lower percentages of those withdrawing, referring and deferring than the previous year. The pie chart Social Work Degree results for 2005–06 cohort shows the initial results for the 2005–06 cohort.

Figure 16 : Broad categories for 2007–08 PLO focus by region 80 70

60

Percentage

50

40

30

20

10

2007–08 2008–09

0 Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn


47

Social work education in England 2008-09 Progression and Achievement on the Social Work Degree

Figure 17 : Social Work Degree resuts for 2005–06 cohort

Taken together we can now see that the current results for all the 2005–06 intake show that the pass rate for this cohort has risen to 75.5%. By comparison to the ‘current’ results for the 2003– 04 cohort, withdrawals have decreased by 5.4% to 12.1%. Although it is too early to establish a trend it will be interesting to see if the much higher rate was reflective of the uncertainty that a brand new course might have caused.

Achievement by type of course Deferred 10.4% Failed 1.9% Passed 61.4% Referred 16.5% Withdrawn 10.0%

By comparison to the initial results for the 2003– 04 cohort, this shows withdrawals down from 12.6% to 10%, pass rates up from 57.9% to 61.3%, deferrals down by 4.9% and referrals up by 4%.

Figure 18 : Current results of 2005–06 cohort deferred and referred students

Figure 19 shows 2007–08 SWD results by course type plots student results by course type for 2007–08. From this graph it can be seen that employment-based routes have three of the top four highest pass rates with college-based undergraduate courses having the lowest at 54.5%. These also have the highest referral, withdrawal and failure rates. The reasons for this need much broader exploration, but may be skewed for example by the higher proportions of under-20s on these routes.

Achievement and student characteristics Analysis of results by age, ethnicity, gender, academic entry levels and disability demonstrates some interesting differences.

Age

Deferred 17.2% Failed 2.3% Passed 56.3% Referred 21.5% Withdrawn 2.7%

The results analysed by age for 2007–08 show remarkable consistency with the outcomes from last year. With a pass rate of 62.5% the 20–24 age range outperforms the national average by 4%. In stark contrast to this is the performance of the under 20 year old age range, with the lowest pass rates of 53% coupled with the highest rate of withdrawal at 17.3%.


48

Social work education in England 2008-09 Progression and Achievement on the Social Work Degree

Figure 19 : 2007–08 social work degree results by course type 100

College-Based Postgraduate Full Time College-Based Undergraduate Full Time College-Based Undergraduate Part Time Employment-Based Postgraduate Full Time Employment-Based Postgraduate Part Time Employment-Based Undergraduate Full Time Employment-Based Undergraduate Part Time Distance Learning Undergraduate

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0 Deferred

Failed

Referred

Passed

Withdrawn

Figure 20 : 2007–08 social work degree results by age range at registration 80 70

Percentage

60

Under 20 Between 20 and 24 Between 25 and 34 Between 35 and 44 Over 45

50 40 30 20 10 0 Deferred

Failed

Referred

Passed

Withdrawn

Figure 21 : 2007–08 social work degree results by ethnic origin 80 70 60 50 Percentage

African British Caribbean Indian Irish Other Other White Background Pakistani White and Black African White and Black Carribean

40 30 20 10 0 Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn


49

Social work education in England 2008-09 Progression and Achievement on the Social Work Degree

Ethnicity

the progression of previously referred and deferred students. This table demonstrates how the high percentages of deferred and referred results have been converted to a pass, with students from Caribbean backgrounds for example showing a rise from 42.9% at initial results to 72.7% for final outcomes.

Table 12 displays ‘real time’ result rates by ethnic origin, in other words all results recorded for each ethnicity as they have occurred over time. From this table it can be seen that ‘other non-white’ now have the highest pass rate at 72% with ‘white British’ students achieving a pass rate of 62.5%. Withdrawal rates have begun to equalise across different groups but referral rates remain much higher for black and minority ethnic groups e.g., Caribbean students are at 32.0% compared to white British and Indian at 13.9% and 17.5% respectively.

This further analysis confirms that pass rates are indeed higher amongst groups of white ethnic origins. However, the differentials in pass rate percentages are considerably narrowed once the final results of deferred and referred students are taken into account.

Table 13 shows only final results of students by ethnic origin as they currently stand, corrected for

Table 12 : ‘Real time’ Social Work Degree results by ethnic origin (percent) Ethnic Origin

Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn

African

11.8

4.2

48.0

22.9

13.1

British

10.1

1.7

62.5

13.9

11.8

Caribbean

9.0

3.6

42.9

32.0

12.6

Indian

12.4

1.5

57.7

17.5

10.9

Irish

12.1

1.7

53.4

19.8

12.9

Other

11.5

3.6

25.9

20.5

11.5

Other White Background

9.1

2.4

72.0

7.9

8.5

Pakistani

17.8

3.9

44.7

19.7

13.8

White and Black African

12.0

2.4

51.8

25.3

8.4

White and Black Caribbean

11.0

0.0

46.3

29.3

13.4

Table 13 : Final Social Work Degree results by ethnic origin (percent) Ethnic Origin

Failed

Passed

Withdrawn

African

6.4

74.0

19.6

British

2.3

82.3

15.4

Caribbean

6.0

72.7

21.3

Indian

2.1

82.3

15.6

Irish

2.5

78.5

19.0

Other

5.3

77.8

16.9

Other White Background

2.9

86.8

10.3

Pakistani

6.3

71.3

22.1

White and Black African

3.8

82.7

13.5

White and Black Caribbean

0.0

77.6

22.4


50

Social work education in England 2008-09 Progression and Achievement on the Social Work Degree

Gender Female degree progression and achievement continues to outperform that of men in all areas, with higher pass rates and lower rates of fail, defer, refer and withdrawal. However differentials have evened out since last year. The female pass rate for the 2008–09 sample is 4.8% higher for women than men, down from 8.1% last year. The withdrawal rate remains 4% higher for men.

Disability It is interesting to note that those who did not provide information (13%) have the

highest pass rate. Given the very small numbers in each Disability Rights Commission category of reported disability it is not possible to identify statistically significant data with respect to different types of disability. The highest number of individuals reported dyslexia, followed by wheel chair users, deaf/hearing impaired, mental health and sight impaired. The impact of dyslexia on results, for example, is uncertain since impairment is declared at entry and dyslexia is often diagnosed once students have started their course. All we can say is that overall, students with reported disabilities have a higher deferral,

Figure 22 : 2007–08 social work degree results by gender 80 70

Percentage

60 50 40 30 20 10

Female Male

0 Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn

Figure 23 : 2007–08 social work degree initial results by impairment 80 70

Percentage

60 50 40 30 20

No Impairment No data provided Impaired

10 0 College Based

Employment based

Under graduate

Postgraduate

Past Time


51

Social work education in England 2008-09 Progression and Achievement on the Social Work Degree

referral, and withdrawal rate than those without a disability and the differentials between results at first and final results show little change in these figures in contrast to the results when considered by ethnic origin. Again a much more sophisticated analysis is needed to fully understand the impact of disability on progression and to identify what HEIs can do to address differentials.

Academic background The link between academic qualification at entry and the impact of this on degree results is a contested issue and of particular interest to the Social Work Task Force. Figure 25 should be treated with caution due to the high proportion of students who do not provide information about their academic background. Of those who do provide such information, those with A-levels have the lowest initial pass rates and high withdrawal and referral rates which may be surprising.

These proportions are replicated when final results are presented although the differences between the groups have narrowed. These figures may reflect the high proportion of school leavers entering with A-levels who we know have the lowest initial pass rate and high withdrawals. However, it is interesting that those with A-levels have a lower initial pass rate than those with lower qualifications, suggesting that academic qualifications are only one of many factors in determining achievement outcomes. As explained earlier in the report, arrangements for more effective collection of data about academic level on entry should be in place in future and enable much robust analysis of any link between entry qualifications and outcomes.

Figure 24 : 2007–08 social work degree current closing results by impairment 100

80

Percentage

60

40

20

No impairment No data provided Impaired

0

Failed

Passed

Withdrawn


52

Social work education in England 2008-09 Progression and Achievement on the Social Work Degree

Looking forward

spotlight, HEIs will be required in the next round of annual monitoring to report whether they have undertaken equality impact assessment in relation to both the selection of students and to the progress of students. HEIs will be invited to comment upon any significant inequality issues particularly in relation to disabled students, gender and black and minority students. The GSCC will expect to see evidence of action taken in response to identified inequality issues.

Although when time taken to qualify is controlled for the differences between outcomes for different ethnic groups is considerably reduced, the fact that such differences do exist is a cause of considerable concern. Work is currently being undertaken to understand the cause of these differences, and to identify what steps HEIs can take to improve and equalise pass rates. This work is being taken forward through the GSCC’s Diversity and Progression Project and a DH funded project being undertaken by Goldsmiths, University of London. In addition to the questions asked this year about progression rates as outlined in the

Figure 25 : 2007–08 social work degree results by academic entry level 80 70

A Levels or Equivalent Degree Other Not Provided Below A Level

Percentage

60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn

Figure 26 : 2007–08 social work degree closing results by academic entry level 100

A Levels or Equivalent Degree Other Not Provided Below A Level

Percentage

80 60 40 20 0 Failed

Passed

Withdrawn


53

Spotlight

22% of the HEIs reported that they systematically collect and evaluate data over time, implement and monitor interventions and are able to report improvements or variations in the achievements of those groups they have identified as being more vulnerable of not progressing. A wide variety of coursespecific support strategies and HEI wide services have been developed to meet the needs of all groups of students. We have commented earlier in this report on the shortage of quality practice learning opportunities; one third of HEIs reported issues to do with practice learning placements, notably late starts, as adversely affecting progression;

For 18% of HEIs progression was seen as a personal issue and details were provided on how the specific needs of individuals were met within the course and the curriculum or by wider HEI student services and external agencies. There was little evidence that HEIs had considered analysing progression rates across and between years, cohorts or groups;

Despite the national statistics, 60% of HEIs stated that progression on social work courses was unproblematic. They did not therefore report strategies to support vulnerable groups of students. Little or no evidence was offered comparing social work progression rates with the norms for the HEI as a whole or even what those progression rates were.

diversity and progression

We reported earlier in this paper that social work courses recruit a higher proportion of students from different black and minority groups and mature students with non-traditional educational backgrounds than many other courses, thus meeting Government aspirations for widening participation. It is of course equally important that HEIs monitor and support the progression and achievement of students once enrolled. This year the GSCC published the final report on the research commissioned from the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London14 which shows that students from black and ethnic minority groups and disabled students have a significantly higher rate of referral and deferral than other groups of students and that the recruitment, progression and achievement of men is worsening. The factors affecting progression are varied and complex but as Hussein et al. report15 there is a significant HEI level effect on all aspects of progression except for failing at first attempt. This is an important finding identifying that HEIs have an important role to play in ensuring equality of progression and that there is considerable variance in outcome. In this year’s annual monitoring exercise the GSCC asked HEIs to provide more specific information on how student progress is monitored, whether they had identified any significant progression issues in their programmes and to detail what actions they were taking to address differential progression rates. The responses received were variable in both quality and quantity.

Reference Shereen Hussein, Jo Moriarty, Jill Manthorpe (2009) Variations in the Progression of Social Work Students in England, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Kings College London/General Social Care Council. The full report and executive summary are available on the GSCC website (www.gscc.org.uk)


54

Section five Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training Social workers’ learning cannot, and does not, finish with completion of the initial training. Social workers need to ensure that their skills, knowledge and understanding is up to date and linked to the best available evidence of what constitutes contemporary, innovative and effective social work practice. In this section we will report on the movement of social workers into the workforce during the reporting period before we turn to the data we have from our regulation of the Post-Qualifying (PQ) training. Here we will discuss the closure of the old GSCC/CCETSW awards, the development of the new PQ framework and the training of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs).

Entry to the Social Care Register The Social Care Register is a list of people who the GSCC have agreed are suitable to work in social care. Suitable means that an individual has an appropriate qualification, is of good character and conduct, and does not have any health condition that would call into question the individual’s fitness to work in social care. The Social Care Register was opened to social workers, initially on a voluntary basis, in 2003. Since 1 April 2005, the title ‘social worker’ has been protected in England by Section 61 of the Care Standards Act 2000. This means that from this date in order to practice as a social worker in England it has been necessary for an individual to be registered with the GSCC. This section looks at the various ways in which student social workers move into the sector, including the length of time between gaining a qualification and finding an employer and the type of employment. All figures were taken at 8 July 2009. Of the cohort that successfully completed their training in 2007–08 , 91% (4,054) have registered

as qualified social workers with the GSCC. In last Raising Standards report the figure for 2006–07 graduates was 90.7%, a figure which has now been adjusted upwards by 2.3% due to further registrations of this cohort (i.e. 93%). It is reasonable to expect a similar adjustment to the 2007–08 cohort figures over the course of the next year as some graduates take time to register after completing their course. Of all social workers on the Social Care Register 77% are female and 23% are male, compared with 85% female and 15% male last year. These figures are given as an overall picture only and are not necessarily linked to the gender profile of students graduating in any year. This is because the social care register contains details of internationally qualified social workers and those people with other schedule one qualifications. The gender profile of students graduating with a SWD remains constant at 85% female and 15% male for cohorts from 2006–07 and 2007– 08. Further analysis of those graduates shows that for the 2007–08 cohort 92% of females and 89% of males registered with the GSCC. For 2006–07 the figure was 93% for both females and males. It is not clear why there is a drop in the numbers, particularly for male graduates registering. Of all registered social workers 16% are nonwhite, 70% are white and 14% have not declared. Of the students graduating with the SWD 19% are non-white, 79% are white and 1% have not declared. Further analysis in each of these categories shows that more non-white graduates have registered (94.2%) than whites (90.5%). This is a small drop on the figures for 2006–07, which were 96% (non-white) and 92% (white).


55

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Employment details The table below shows the employment details for all registered social workers at 1 July 2009, this includes social workers qualifying overseas or prior to the SWD. 92% of registrants declared that they are in employment (72,581). 5% (3,982) of registrants say that they are unemployed. Of those in employment 76% (57,301) said they are employed in some sort of social care or social services work (category includes direct employment/agency/selfemployed), 8% (4,328) of these being employed via an agency. Since the start of the SWD 10,951 students have passed and 89% of these have registered with the GSCC. Of these registrants more than 98% have declared an employer, 64% within a social care or social work setting.

Table 14 : Employment details for all registered social workers

Table 15 shows the employment details of SWD graduates who have registered with the GSCC. For graduates in 2007–08, 67% (2,963) have declared that they are in employment, compared with 74% (2,210) of SWD graduates from 2006– 07. However, because only 61% of the 2006–07 graduating students declared their employment with 12 months of completion it is likely that the 2007–08 figure will be adjusted as more graduates register. Figures for both years are higher than the figures to date from the start of the degree. Eighteen per cent of the 2007–08 graduates (800) say that they are unemployed, a small increase on the 2006–07 graduating cohort (17%, 504). However, at the time of last year’s report the number of 2006–07 graduating students that declared themselves unemployed was 23%. It is therefore likely that as more graduates register and/or change their details and the figures are adjusted throughout the year this year’s figure will also fall.

Total on Social Care Register: 79,032 Declared Employment Type 51236

Employed in Social Care/Services Work

90

Career Break

12244

Other

371

Retired

4328

Employed in Social Care/Services Work by an Agency

1737

Self-Employed in Social Care/Services

224

On Secondment in Social Care/Services

3982

Unemployed

2726

Employed Outside of Social Care/Services

824

Unknown

886

Gap in Employment

20

Employer Not Known

263

Self-Employed outside Social Care

49

Studying - Not in employment

Of those graduates that declared an employer, 89% (2,624) said they were employed in some sort of social care or social services work. This compares favourably with the 80% (1,763) from 2006–07. There is a rise in the number of graduating students moving into agency social care/services work, 11% (301) from 2007–08 graduates compared with 6% (113) from 2006–07. The figures for those declaring work outside of social care (7%, 213) and in those taking a gap in employment (3%, 214) have also risen slightly. This may be linked to the current economic climate but as no reasons are given by students this can only be conjecture. It would be useful to carry out a survey of students following their graduation and the GSCC is working with the Higher Education Statistics Agency to use their longitudinal survey data for social work and related professions in next year’s annual report.


56

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Table 15 : Employment details of SWD graduates (percent)

Figure 27 : Graduating students employment type by year

Career break

Employed by Agency Outside Social Care

Employed in Social Care/Services Work

Employed in Social Care/ Services Work by an Agency

Employed Outside of Social Care/Services

Gap in Employment

Employer Type

2006–07

2007–08

Career Break

0.3

0.1

Employed by Agency Outside Social Care

0.1

0.1

Employed in Social Care/Services Work

59.4

57.1

Employed in Social Care/Services Work by an Agency

4.1

7.4

Employed Outside of Social Care/Services

2.7

4.9

Gap in Employment

0.3

5.3

Not Provided

1.2

1.7

On Secondment in Social Care/Services

0.1

0.4

On secondment outside SC

0.0

0.0

Other

13.0

2.7

Self-Employed in Social Care/Services

0.3

0.2

Self-Employed outside Social Care

0.1

0.2

Studying - Not in employment

0.1

0.1

Unemployed

18.2

19.7

Not Provided

On Secondment in Social Care/Services

On secondment outside SC

Other

Self-Employed in Social Care/Services

Self-Employed outside Social Care

Studying Not in employment

Unemployed

0

10

20

30 Percentage

2006–07 2007–08

40

50

60

This year we have looked at the length of time between graduating with a SWD and finding employment. The majority of graduating students (67%) declare that they find employment between 0 and 6 months after finishing their course. Nearly 2% say that they find work between 6 and 12 months after graduating with just over 1% of graduates taking more than a year. Nearly 30% do not give a date of first employment or have not declared an employer.


57

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Table 16 : Time taken for SWD graduates to find employment Time

Percent

0-6 Months

67.3

12-24 Months

0.7

6-12 Months

1.8

24 Months Or Greater

0.6

Employer Not Known

29.6

The PQ framework launched by the CCETSW in December 1991 closed in 2009 when the last candidates gained their awards. In total over the eighteen years of this framework there were 77,032 enrolments.

Table 18 :

The length of time taken by non-white graduates to find employment is slightly longer than for white graduates (Table 17). However, we should also note that more than one third of registrants do not declare their ethnicity or employer details.

Table 17 : Time taken for SWD graduates to find employment Percentage of no white

Percentage of white

Percentage of not given

0-6 Months

54

62

62

12-24 Months

4

4

1

24 Months Or Greater

1

1

1

6-12 Months

2

3

1

No Employer Declared

39

29

35

Time

Closure of outgoing GSCC/CCETSW awards

Post-qualifying training Below we will report on the data we have gathered through our regulation of courses delivered through the new PQ framework for social work education, including the training of Approved Mental Health Professionals. Initially, however, we will report on closure of the outgoing GSCC/CCETSW awards. These were replaced by the new PQ framework, with the last candidates studying under the old framework receiving their awards during this reporting period.

Award name

Total

Advanced Award in Social Work

2,815

Mental Health Social Work Award Leading to Approved Social Work Status

4,592

PQ Award in Child Care

5,189

PQ Award in Social Work

30,872

PQ Award Part 1

21,100

Practice Teaching Programme

12,464

Total

77,032

In total between 1992 and 2009 50,976 certificates have been issued by the GSCC and CCETSW to social workers successfully completing PQ education and training under the old award framework. There were 8,906 social workers that gained a full PQ Award in Social Work and 1,110 gained the Advanced Award. There were also 4,341 social workers who successfully completed the training required to enable them to be considered for appointment as Approved Social Workers. The PQ Award in Child Care Social Work was introduced in 1999–2000 to improve and develop the skills, knowledge and practice of social workers working with children, young people, their families and carers. In total 4,308 social workers gained this award. There were 11,224 social workers that also demonstrated a commitment to the development of the profession and the education and training of social work students and fellow professionals


58

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

by undertaking and gaining the Practice Teaching Award.

Table 19 : Award

Failed

Passed

Withdrawn

Advanced Award in Social Work

0

1110

1705

ASW Mental Health

27

4341

224

PQ Award in Child Care

143

4308

738

PQ Award in Social Work

26

8906

21940

PQ Award Part 1

0

21087

13

Practice Teaching Programme

176

11224

1064

Total

372

50976

25684

The overall pass rate for the old PQ framework was 67%. The withdrawal rate, 33%, is markedly high. However, this withdrawal rate may be not as concerning as this headline figure would initially suggest. Where there was a statutory responsibility for local authorities to appoint suitably qualified practitioners to undertake the Approved Social Worker role the pass rate for ASW training was 95%. The Child Care Award was supported by the DH ringfenced training support grants for the first three years and 83% of those who enrolled, successfully completed the training. The PQ Award Part 1 was linked by a number of employers to progression and pay scale points. It was not possible under the old framework to enrol solely on the PQ Award Part 1; this could only be undertaken as part of the PQ Award in Social Work. Many of these social workers who enrolled on the PQ Award in Social Work therefore will have done so with no real intention of completing the full award. Thus the

withdrawal rate would appear to be an anomaly of the way in which the old framework was structured and used.

Figure 28 : Final outcomes old awards

Failed 0.0% Passed 67.0% Withdrawn 33.0%

The post-qualifying framework The GSCC is responsible for regulating the structure of post-qualifying courses for Social Workers. In 2006 a new framework for such courses was introduced by the GSCC, known as the ‘Post-Qualifying (PQ) framework’. The PQ framework is the structure through which the GSCC sets the standards and requirements for post-qualification training for social workers, approves those courses that meet the GSCC’s requirements, and regulates HEIs’ delivery of these courses. Inter-professional education is a key principle within the framework and joint courses are likely to take place between professional groups. This framework consists of three academic levels: • the Post-Qualifying Award in Specialist Social Work (Hons degree or Graduate Diploma – H level). • the Post-Qualifying Award in Higher


59

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Specialist Social Work (Post Graduate Diploma – M level). • the Post-Qualifying Award in Advanced Social Work (Minimum Level M – Masters). Courses can be in five different areas of practice. These are: • Children and young people, their families and carers; • Leadership and management; • Practice education; • Social work in mental health services; and • Social work with adults. The process through which the GSCC quality assures courses under the PQ framework broadly replicates that for the SWD. The PQ framework for social work education builds upon the qualifying degree in social work. The framework is designed to be relevant to the training needs of qualified social work practitioners and responsive to the needs of employers determined through regional and local workforce planning and development networks. The overall objective is to ensure that PQ education and training improves the standard of social work practice. Integral to the PQ framework is the principle that professional development is a holistic process. This is a process whereby individuals acquire knowledge and skills in different areas, which then combine with one another to promote a deeper sense of overall professional identity. At the specialist level, professional development will encompass the knowledge and skills needed for direct practice, those needed for self-management and use of supervision and those that are essential to the process of mentoring colleagues and teaching

and assessing students and/or colleagues. In this way, the PQ framework contributes to the important task of developing a coherent and rounded social work identity beyond the point of qualification. An integral part of the framework is the involvement of people who use services and carers who should participate in all aspects of PQ education and training. In this way the framework should ensure that the needs and perspectives of people who use services and carers are at the heart of PQ education and training. Funding is provided through employers and bursaries are given for some independent students via Skills for Care. However, access to PQ remains problematic for some groups of workers, particularly agency social workers and social workers based within smaller organisations. There also appears to be a growing understanding that many of those social workers undertaking the Advanced-level courses are self funded. This will inevitably have an effect on demand for, and therefore provision of, these courses.

Number, location and specialism of courses Up until July 2009, 286 courses have been approved by the GSCC across England. At the time of reporting there have been 5,985 registrations on PQ education and training courses. This represents 7.6%, or one in thirteen, of the 79,032 social workers registered with the GSCC in August 2009. During the reporting period the GSCC approved a further 54 courses (included in the 286 figure). In terms of the regional location of courses, London is, by a considerable extent, the region where the greatest number of courses are


60

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

carers; 23% for those specialising in work with adults; and 20% for social workers in mental health settings. Programmes specifically addressing leadership and management training account for 11% of all those courses approved and practice education courses just over 9%.

based, some 30% of all courses available. Table 20 demonstrates that in some of the regions, including the North West and South West, significant increases of courses approved in 2008–09 were witnessed. For example Yorkshire and Humberside accounted for 30% of the total number of courses approved in 2008–09 (as of July 09).

By far the most popular level remains the specialist level, accounting for 155 of the 286 courses available. The specialist-level courses allow social workers to develop the range and knowledge associated with competence in depth in a particular area of specialist social work practice. However, there has been a significant rise in the number of higher specialist level courses approved which in part reflects the AMHP training being placed within the higher specialist level Mental Health PQ course.

The availability and take up of courses across the country needs continued monitoring, particularly with respect to the provision and enrolments relating to Practice Education and Leadership and Management courses, to ensure supply matches demand and that different regions are not left without provision. A third of all courses have been developed to meet the needs of social workers working with children, young people, their families and

Table 20 : Course approvals by approval year and region Region

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Grand Total

East Midlands

9

2

11

22

4

26

London

63

18

5

86

North East

9

4

13

North West

8

3

10

21

South East

26

4

6

36

South West

12

9

9

30

West Midlands

26

1

4

31

Yorkshire & Humberside

8

8

16

32

Grand Total

161

71

54

286

East Of England

Table 21 : Course approvals by approval year and specialism PQ Specialism

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Total

Children, Young People, Their Families And Carers

68

18

11

97

Combined Pathway

9

0

0

9

Leadership And Management

12

16

5

33

Mental Health

20

14

23

57

Practice Education

15

5

3

23

Social Work With Adults

37

18

12

67

Grand Total

161

71

54

286


61

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Number of students by level of award

specialist level registered for a full award. There was a slight improvement to 58% in 2008–09. We will need to monitor whether those social workers who successfully complete the consolidation module do in fact go on to further education and training designed to extend and develop their professional practice.

Of all enrolments for the first three years of the framework, eight out of ten are at the specialist level. Programmes leading to a PQ award in specialist social work allow practitioners with a qualification in social work to develop the range of knowledge and skills associated with competence in depth in a particular area of specialist social work practice. At this level, the aim is to develop well-rounded practitioners, confident about working in inter-professional and inter-agency contexts. The development and consolidation of initial competence in a specialist context is usually assessed within the first module as part of a specialist level course.

At the specialist level, all programmes must show how they will develop knowledge and skills in mentoring, practice teaching and assessment. For the most part this is delivered as an individual and final module within an approved course and often referred to as the ‘enabling others’ module.

Social workers and their employers appear not to fully commit to full specialist level awards from the outset. In 2007–08 only 54% of all those who registered for course at the

From annual monitoring responses the GSCC is aware more social workers may be studying individual modules within approved PQ courses and may in the future complete the full

Table 22 : Course Approvals by approval year and specialism PQ Level

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Total

Advanced Level

30

12

10

52

Higher Specialist Level

37

19

23

79

Specialist Level

94

40

21

155

Grand Total

161

71

54

286

Table 23 : Consolidation and full specialist award Enrolments for:

2007–08 Total

2008–09 Total

Consolidation (only)

1037 (46%)

867 (42%)

Full Specialist Award Level Course

1220 (54%)

1191 (58%)

Table 24 : Course registration by level Registration Type

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Total

Consolidation Module

78

1037

867

1982

Enabling Module

38

93

66

197

Full Award (All Levels)

169

1580

1930

3679

Other Module

1

75

51

127

Grand Total

286

2785

2914

5985


62

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

and advanced courses have to date been disappointing and perhaps reflects the fact that social work has only recently become a graduate profession.

award but these social workers have not registered for full awards at this point. It would appear from limited evidence through talking to stakeholders, that those who register for the enabling module are more likely to be experienced social workers who may have gained PQ academic and professional qualifications within the previous PQ framework or elsewhere and wish to contribute to the training of SWD students and others. In addition to those undertaking the specialist level courses leading to a full award which would include ‘enabling others’, 197 social workers have registered for the enabling others module.

Enrolment to leadership and management courses remains low. It is hoped that development of the awards to better meet workforce needs, and greater employer support of managers to undertake training, will lead to an increase in take-up. There has been a decline in the number of qualified social workers enrolling on practice education courses. With the pressing need to develop leadership and management skills within social work, the need for suitably qualified and experienced practice assessors in the SWD; and the need to further develop evidence-based practice we would hope to be reporting in the future that recruitment to higher level and advance level courses has increased.

The increase in registrations for Higher Specialist courses in 2008–09 is partly accounted for by 405 registrations on the new mental health courses which include AMHP training (see below for further information). Enrolments for full awards, higher specialist

Figure 29 : Number of students by specialism 60 50

Children, Young People, their Families and Carers Combined Pathway Leadership & Management Mental Health Practice Education Social Work with Adults

Percentage

40 30 20 10 0 2008–09

2007–08

Table 25 : Registrations – Higher Specialist and Advanced Awards in Social Work Level

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

Total

Advanced Level

1

105

125

231

Higher Specialist Level

45

255

614

914

Specialist Level

240

2425

2175

4840

Grand Total

286

2785

2914

5985


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Number of students by specialism More than half the enrolments are on to courses specialising in work with children and families (see figure 29).

Figure 31 : Social Work with Adults Enrolments

The following pie charts demonstrate the breakdown of total enrolments (2006–09) in each specialism per region. As can be seen there is little difference across the regions in the children young people their families and carers specialism, all regions have approved courses and enrolments in this specialism.

Figure 30 : Children, Young People, their Families and Carers Enrolment

East Midlands 7.0% East of England 5.0% London 12.0% North East 9.0% North West 11.0% South East 14.0% South West 29.0% West Midlands 12.0% Yorkshire & Humberside 1.0%

Figure 32 : Mental Health Enrolments

East Midlands 11.0% East of England 15.0% London 13.0% North East 7.0% North West 8.0% South East 8.0% South West 12.0% West Midlands 16.0% Yorkshire & Humberside 10.0%

Within the adults’ specialism the highest percentage of enrolments, 29%, occurred in the South West with 1% of the total number in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.

East Midlands 1.0% East of England 13.0% London 20.0% North East 4.0% North West 21.0% South East 3.0% South West 27.0% West Midlands 8.0% Yorkshire & Humberside 3.0%


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Again the south west has the highest percentage of enrolments for the mental health specialism 27%, followed by the North West 21%) and London (20%). The East Midlands had 1% of the total.

Figure 34 : Leadership and Management Enrolments

For practice education 63% of those undertaking the course enrolled in the London region followed by the east of England with 14%. No enrolments have been recorded in the North East and the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside regions had no approved courses. The West Midlands accounts for 53% of all enrolments in leadership and management followed by the London region with 20%. There were no enrolments of social workers in East Midlands, whilst the North West and North East had no approved courses.

Figure 33 : Practice Education Enrolments

East Midlands 4.0% East of England 14.0% London 63.0% South East 7.0% South West 10.0% West Midlands 2.0%

East of England 5.0% London 20.0% South East 14.0% South West 7.0% West Midlands 53.0% Yorkshire & Humberside 1.0%


65

Spotlight Research on post-qualifying social work education Although there have been no national PQ social work education evaluations, an increasing body of local and regional studies indicate that PQ social work education is having a positive and consistent impact on practice. Students who undertake these programmes are provided with an opportunity for continuing professional development that increases their knowledge, skills, confidence, network and ability to reflect critically.16 These studies have often taken a snapshot or cross-sectional approach using questionnaires or interviews and have used small sample sizes. Usually they demonstrate the following type of personal impact:

ation-of-adults-and-approved-social-workpractice.pdf ‘My colleagues have commented that my confidence has grown and I feel that my practice has improved’…‘My skills base has expanded significantly’ (Former PQ Vulnerable Adults and Community Care Practice students) McCloskey (2006) research, also reported by Brown et al (2008) is useful in that she evaluated the impact of a PQSW award on five cohorts from three different regions within England. Both candidates and their line managers were involved in the studythat took place between November 2005 and March 2006. The key findings were: •

The programmes had a positive impact on personal, team and organisational development. The examples of impact on social workers and organisational performance were particularly powerful;

The programmes provided a good opportunity for social workers to reflect on their practice – this appears to be a key element of the learning gained;

For those who had been in practice for a while it was felt to be especially valuable to have the opportunity to reflect back on practice.

Evaluation of a Leadership and Management Award http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/hsc/pdf/evalu ation-of-leadership-and-management.pdf ‘It makes you think on how you impact on others and how you want to develop your personal practice and develop their practice as well’… ‘It introduced me to new alternative ways of understanding leadership’. (Former PQ Leadership and Management students)

Evaluation of a Childcare Award http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/hsc/pdf/evalu ation-of-a-gscc-child-care-award.pdf ‘I think more theoretically and reflect more’…‘The programme has re-defined the importance of the client’… ‘My manager has capitalised on my new skills. I am now doing more strategic work’. (Former PQ Childcare students)

Evaluation of Adult and Approved Social Work Practice Awards http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/hsc/pdf/evalu

In summary, it appears that when PQ social work programmes are integrated with the workforce development system of an organisation they have a powerful impact in transforming and developing the quality of service delivery. However longitudinal research is required to fully understand the impact PQ study has on social work practitioners, practice and organisations, and we urge the various funding bodies and Government organisations involved in social work/care to give serious consideration to providing funding for this type of research.


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

Who studies on post-qualifying courses?

education and training on internationally qualified registered social workers.

Age Some 8% of all registered social workers gained their initial professional qualification outside the United Kingdom. Of the 12,748 registered social workers aged between 25 and 34, some 3,417 or 27% trained abroad. The GSCC will monitor the uptake and impact of PQ

There are 44,562 registered social workers aged 45 or over representing 56% of the total number of social workers on the GSCC Register. Although there was a slight increase in the numbers registering for PQ in 2008–09, this group has been underrepresented in PQ education and training, accounting for only one

Table 26 : Registered social workers by age and place of qualification (July 2009) Age

16-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Unkown

UK Qualification

1173

9331

18633

25472

18002

72

72683

International Qualification

145

3417

1692

693

395

7

6349

Total

1318

12748

20325

26165

18397

79

79032

Table 27 : GSCC registrations by ethnicity Ethnic Origin

Percentage

Count

Any other Asian

0.5

378

Any other Black

0.6

454

Any other ethnic group

0.7

540

Any other mixed background

0.4

294

Any other White

5.4

4268

Asian or Asian British Bangladeshi

0.0

14

Asian or Asian British Indian

2.7

2167

Asian or Asian British Pakistani

0.1

46

Bangladeshi

0.3

216

Black African

3.8

2988

Black Caribbean

4.4

3438

Black or Black British African

0.3

227

Black or Black British Caribbean

0.2

156

Chinese

0.1

90

Chinese British

0.1

59

Chinese or Chinese British Chinese

0.0

1

Indian

0.0

1

Mixed White and Asian

0.3

252

Mixed White and Black African

0.3

225

Mixed White and Black Caribbean

0.5

425

Not Available

11.2

8839

Not stated

2.7

2113

Pakistani

0.8

617

White

0.0

2

White British

62.5

49371

White Irish

2.3

1851

Total

100.0

79032


67

Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

third of all enrolments since the revised framework was introduced. 23% of registered social workers are 55 or over. We will need to carefully monitor the uptake of PQ by older more experienced social workers to determine how they ensure their own continuing professional development and gain a better understanding of their engagement and involvement with the development of others.

Ethnicity We know that social work has been relatively succesful in becoming a more diverse workforce and has made progress at the qualifying level in attracting students from wide, diverse and culturally rich backgrounds. However, we also know that on the SWD there is a significant difference in the progression rates for certain groups. We will monitor the enrolments for PQ

Figure 35 : UPQ Enrolment by age range (percentage) and year 40 35

Percentage

30 25 20 15 10

2007–08 2008–09

5 0 Between 20 and 24

Between 25 and 34

Between 35 and 44

Figure 36 : Enrolments by ethnicity and year African Any Other Ethnic Category Asian Bangladeshi British Caribbean Chinese English European British Indian Irish Other Other Asian Background Other Black Background Other European Background Other Mixed Background Other White Background Pakistani Scottish Unknown Welsh White and Asian White and Black African White and Black Caribbean

1000

800

600

400

200

0 2007–08

2008–09

Over 45


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

to ensure that all groups have equal access to continuing professional education and development.

Gender Seventy seven per cent of registrants on the GSCC register are female and 23% are male. Women make up 80% of those enrolled on PQ courses and men 20%. This contrasts with the SWD, where woman make up 86.4% of enrolment and men 13.6%. Of the 79,032 registered social workers in England 65,352 (83%) have been qualified for five years or more.

Disability Less than 2% of social workers declare that they are disabled when they register with the GSCC. No information is given in 11% of applications. Enrolments where social workers declare a disability amount to over 6% of total PQ enrolments: 188 in 2007–08 and 177 in 2008– 09. Dyslexia is the largest single declared

Table 31 : PQ Enrolments by declared disability 2007–09 Declared Disability

Table 28 : Registered social workers by gender (July 2009) Gender

Blind/sight impaired

2007– 08 5

Continence

2008– 09

Total

4

9

2

2

Deaf/hearing impaired

28

21

49

58

135

Female

60159

Dyslexic

77

Male

18513

In need of personal care

1

Total

78672

Lift, carry or move object

4

4

Manual Dexterity

2

2

Table 29 : PQ Enrolments by gender 2007–09 Student Gender

2007–08

2008–09

Total

1

Memory, concentrate and learn

4

5

9

Mental health difficulties

3

7

10

Female

2227

2320

4547

Mobility

2

7

9

Male

552

583

1135

Multiple disabilities

5

7

12

Unknown

6

11

17

1622

3678

2785

2914

5699

No disability

2056

Total

No Impairment

197

592

789

No Information Required

37

50

87

No Information Supplied

307

473

780

Other

12

13

25

1

1

Table 30 : Social Workers declaring a disability on registering with the GSCC Disability declared

Count

No disability

68724

Physical Coordination

Unknown

8760

Speech, hearing or eyesight

5

5

10

Declared a disability

1548

Unseen disabilities

28

28

56

Total

79032

Wheelchair user

18

13

31

Total

2785

2914

5699


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

disability. The question whether social workers are more ready to declare a disability when applying for PQ training than they are when registering with the regulatory body needs further examination. We will continue to carefully monitor how accessible PQ is to social workers that declare a disability.

Employer participation Active employer engagement remains a stipulation for all PQ courses under the framework. This is in order to ensure courses fit in with wider workforce development strategies, and also that employers are clear about their responsibilities for work-based learning and assessment opportunities, as required by the GSCC. Formal evidence of this must be provided prior to course approval. The assessment of practice is at the heart of all awards and means that work-based learning and assessment is a crucial part of any course. Employers continue to take an active part in university validation of courses, by attending the event, supplying written support for the awards and/or through regional endorsement. Ongoing employer involvement is a requirement for PQ courses and is monitored through the GSCC annual monitoring process with individual universities. Within the Annual Monitoring responses returned by the universities in January 2009 there were variations across the regions and specialisms in respect of employer engagement. There were a number of examples of positive engagement in areas where there existed close links with employers – at times including operational managers and clear policies specifying expectations of partnership working.

Within the Annual Monitoring process universities were asked whether the employer engagement had been better or worse than promised. Just over 70% of responses stated that the engagement had been better whereas just under 11% stated it had been worse. When asked in respect of workload relief this appeared to vary across the specialisms and regions but was in the main viewed as problematic. Significantly, though, in respect of the Mental Health courses workload relief did not appear to be identified as a difficulty and was well supported. This may be due to the statutory nature of the course. When asked concerning the availability of qualified and experienced practice educators and assessors over 70% of responses stated it was sufficient to meet the student’s needs, 13% more than sufficient and 4% stated it was insufficient to meet the student’s (social worker) needs. Challenges identified within the annual monitoring responses across the specialisms included: • workload relief; • timing and resource issues including the identification of practice assessors/mentors; • lack of ring fenced finances; • changes in organisational structures (employer organisations); and • identification of assessors/mentors for the higher level courses. Achievements identified within the annual monitoring responses across the specialisms included:


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

• participation of employers in assessment processes including the involvement of senior managers; • consolidation enrolments, building on previous regional employer relationships; and • the commitment of practice assessors being invaluable.

Progression and achievement Table 32 demonstrates the 2007–08 results for those social workers undertaking PQ. As can be seen there is a pass rate of over 83%. However caution is needed in making any comparisons at this stage due to the relatively small numbers and early stage of the PQ Framework. Table 33 demonstrates the breakdown of results for 2007–08 by level, as can be seen over 95% of all passes originate from specialist level courses. It is too early to make any regional comparisons.

As with enrolments, the age profile of students shows an almost equal proportion falling into each age band – around a third of all results between the ages of 25–34; 35–45; and over 45, with a very small percentage of under 25s. From the results 2007–08 there appears to be certain ethnic minority groups that are not progressing as successfully through PQ as other groups though the numbers at this point are small. This is an area that we will be monitoring closely in future. Similarly, with respect to the results of those social workers who declare a disability, these numbers also need close monitoring in future. Again, only data relating to a relatively small numbers of students is available at present.

The training of Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP) Under section 18 of the Mental Health Act 2007, local social services authorities are required to

Table 32 : All results by Specialism Specialism

Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn

Grand Total

Children, Young People, their Families and Carers

19

12

310

12

22

375

1

1 147 5 125 653

Leadership & Management Mental Health

6

7

Practice Education

126

6

2

2

1

2

Social Work With Adults

5

4

106

8

2

Grand Total

30

23

544

27

29

Deferred

Failed

Passed

Referred

Withdrawn

Table 33 : All results by Level Specialism Advanced Level

1

Higher Specialist Level

8

24

1

4

Specialist Level

30

15

519

26

25

Grand Total

30

23

544

27

29

Grand Total 1 37 615 653


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

approve professionals as AMHPs, who may be social workers, nurses, occupational therapists or psychologists, to discharge the functions conferred on them by the Act. Under the Mental Health (Approval of Persons to be Approved Mental Health Professionals, England) Regulations, 2007, local social services authorities can only approve professionals who have successfully completed AMHP training approved by the GSCC. The first AMHPs approved by local social services authorities when the legislation came into force in November 2008 were Approved Social Workers. The GSCC has duties under Section 54 of the Care Standards Act 2000 to approve, monitor and inspect provision for social work education and training. Section 19 of the Mental Health Act 2007 extends these to the approval of AMHP training. The GSCC approves AMHP training also on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Health Professions Council (HPC) and the British Psychological Society (BPS). AMHP training is located within the GSCC PQ Framework at the Higher Specialist level. The first AMHP programme was approved in 2007– 08 and a further 18 programmes were approved by the GSCC in 2008–09. We will be reporting on the results next year.

Looking forward The new PQ framework is now operational, and feedback from employers and universities has already identified a number of areas for development and further discussion. Some of these areas have meant, or will mean, changes to the framework, such as a change to the requirements, or the development of additional awards or approval processes. The

areas below are in the process of being or have been considered: Employers had asked the GSCC to look at providing an approved route for leadership and management at specialist level and this is being taken forward; There has been some concern that standards for the support and assessment of practice have not been maintained and that the ‘enabling others’ requirement at the specialist level has not allowed for a flexible approach (limited to the assessment of SWD students). In response to stakeholders, the ‘enabling others’ requirement has recently been amended to allow for more flexible usage and, alongside other organisations and representatives the GSCC has participated in drafting practice educator standards framework to ensure standards are maintained; • It is acknowledged that social workers may need to have a mixture of awards to meet their particular knowledge and skills development. The GSCC must ensure that awards are flexible to workforce need, while maintaining integrity; this is a challenging balance to achieve but remains an issue for discussion and debate with stakeholders; • While the development of reflective, evidence-based practice underpins the awards, to ensure social workers adopt a research-minded approach to both using research and generating research that produces better practice, there is an ongoing debate as to whether research is given enough prominence and whether a research pathway should be developed and available to social workers; • There have been positive developments in respect of the consolidation module with


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Social work education in England 2008-09 Entering the workforce and post-qualifying training

universities developing assessment tools to incorporate NQSW competences; • Currently, the GSCC only approves whole courses. There have been changes to approved courses and modules within those courses and the GSCC have worked with universities in agreeing those proposed changes. A group representing universities, employers, sector skills councils and the GSCC meets regularly to work on arising issues for development of PQ. Feedback from specific interest groups is also sought and listened to, to make the framework as responsive as possible to workforce and provider needs. The framework was agreed in 2005. Enrolments, course availability within regions and results need to continue to be monitored. Ongoing evaluation of outcomes needs to be undertaken, and a timetable for the evaluation of fitness for purpose of the framework is being devised.


73

List of frequently-used acronyms AMHP

Approved Mental Health Professional

CCETSW

Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work

DH

Department of Health

DipSW

Diploma in Social Work

GSCC

General Social Care Council

HEIs

Higher Education Institutions

PQ

Post Qualifying

SWD

Social Work Degree


74

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2 3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

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15 16

Social Work Taskforce final report Building a safe and confident Future’ Secretaries of State for Dept. of Health and Dept. of Children’s Schools and Families. November 2009 Social Work Taskforce implementation plan Lord Laming (2009) The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report (The Stationers Office, London) The Social Work Taskforce (2009) ‘Building a safe and confident future’ – The final report of the Social Work Taskforce: November 2009 General Social Care Council, Skills for Care and the Social Care Institute for Excellence. The Panel on Fair Access to the Professions (2009) Unleashing Aspiration: The final Report of the panel on Fair access to the Professions (Cabinet Office, London) Dept. Business Universities and Innovation (2009) Higher Ambitions: the future of universities in a knowledge economy report. See Harris, J. Manthrope, J, Hussein, S. (2008) What Works in ‘Grow Your Own’ Initiatives for Social Work? – Research Report. Available: www.gscc.org.uk/Publications/ The Panel on Fair Access to the Professions (2009) Unleashing Aspiration: The final Report of the panel on Fair access to the Professions (Cabinet Office, London) Department for Business Knowledge and Skills (2009) Higher Ambitions: the future of universities in a knowledge economy (London) Children, Schools and Families Committee (2009) Training of Children and Families Social Workers. HEIs can divide the required minimum of 200 days practice learning between as many placements as necessary. ‘Children and families’ includes the categories adoption & fostering, child protection, children & families, education social work and young offenders; ‘adults’ includes the categories adult services and older people services; mental health includes the categories learning difficulties, learning disabilities and mental health. Hussien, S., Moriarty, J., Manthrope, J (2009) Variations in Progression of Social Work Students in England: Using student data to help promote achievement. (General Social Care Council, London) ibid 1 Rushton, A. & Martyn, H. (1990) Two postqualifying courses in social work: the views of the course members and their employees. British

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Acknowledgements We would like to thank Lisa Cassius, Keith Brown and Steven Keen for their contributions to the spotlight sections.



Raising Standards