WD November 2015 Update

The Workforce Development Policy Committee met on 25 September.

The committee welcomed Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families to discuss the knowledge and skills statement for Approved Child and Family Practitioner, along with the development of the accreditation and assessment process to underpin this. Isabelle set out a four stage process for assessment and accreditation that is now well-known, made up of: employer endorsement; knowledge test; digital practice scenarios; and simulated practice observation. The initiative is being reviewed as part of the Government’s wider spending review and depending on the outcome of this, the process will be piloted with a number of LAs in the New Year. The employer endorsement element of the process is still under development and the Department for Education has now gone out to tender for an organisation to help them to further develop this thinking. The committee proposed thinking carefully about how the employer’s endorsement could be used positively to help manage the agency market for social workers. Perhaps by requiring social workers to be substantively employed, or to have spent a minimum period of time with the employer before the endorsement could be made. The committee welcomed the update from the Chief Social Worker, however, expressed concern about the lack of clarity around some aspects of the initiative, including how the knowledge and skills statement will fit within the already established framework for continued professional development.

The committee also considered the results from a caseload management survey of ADCS members. The results showed wide variations in caseloads across the LAs who responded with different views as to what constituted a ‘management caseload.’ The variability in roles and responsibilities within each LA was apparent when analysing the information, as were the different approaches to service and team structures. The exercise showed there was little commonality across those local authorities who responded however a number of examples of caseload management tools were submitted which the wider ADCS membership may find useful. Further work has been done to develop a better understanding from the findings and the final report will be considered at the next meeting of the committee, and then circulated more widely along with the caseload management tools to assist authorities in developing their own standards.

The Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group has been developing draft apprenticeship standards for the roles of both children, young people and families practitioner and children, young people and families manager. The draft standards were subject to consultation over the summer period and Ros Garrod-Mason, Apprenticeship Project Support Manager, provided the committee with an overview of the responses. The feedback from the consultation was generally very positive and the standards are now being finalised before submission to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by the end of October.

Since the meeting in September, the Chair of the committee facilitated a well attended workshop at the National Children and Adult Services Conference entitled ‘Practice leadership in social work: a new lever for better standards and standing’. Lynn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, gave her view on practice leadership, along with two principal social workers.

The committee is continuing to develop its relationship with Health Education England and is developing a forward plan which will enable it to partner with ADASS, and with other policy committees to tackle key issues.

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