National Assessment and Accreditation System PR

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, 14 March, publishes its response to the Department for Education’s consultation on the new national assessment and accreditation system (NAAS).

Commenting on the Association’s response to the consultation Rachael Wardell, Chair of the Association’s Workforce Development Policy Committee, said:

“Each and every day social workers must make difficult decisions in sometimes high risk situations to safeguard and improve outcomes for the most vulnerable. This is no mean feat and is why the profession must be underpinned by highly skilled individuals who are committed to making meaningful, positive interventions in the lives of the children and families that they work with. Since the announcement of knowledge and skills statements, over two years ago, ADCS has engaged extensively and constructively with the Department for Education on the social work reform agenda but many important strategic questions remain unanswered. We welcome the government’s commitment to raising the quality and confidence of the children and family social work workforce and have raised a number of important points and questions in our response which, in our view, warrant further discussion and clarification.

“ADCS is clear in that, if the government implements assessment and accreditation for the approved child and family practitioner and the practice supervisor statuses, this must be mandatory, rolled out at pace and fully funded by government as a new burden. Without mandation, it is unlikely that the NAAS will be a ‘nationally consistent mechanism’ demonstrating whether social workers can meet the standards set out by the knowledge and skills statements, as described in Putting Children First (2016). Voluntary implementation poses a number of risks which could further destabilise an already fragile workforce. For example, it will result in the creation of a two-tier system – dividing the workforce into social workers who are accredited and those who aren’t. In a tiered profession, a social worker’s professional judgement could be questioned if they are unaccredited despite there being no statutory requirement for this. This is concerning and will do nothing to help raise the confidence of the profession or consistency across the workforce.

“In the context of austerity and rising demand for our services, the Association questions whether the NAAS, at a cost of £23m to the public purse, represents good value for money. Instead, this money would be much better spent on supporting front line and early help services that we know are currently under enormous strain given the deepening pressures on children social care. We would welcome further discussion with government on this. It is also unclear why the NAAS is being progressed in advance of the creation of the new regulator, Social Work England. If the regulator’s objectives are, amongst others, to promote and maintain public confidence in social workers; and professional standards and conduct for social workers, it does not make sense to plough on with implementation of assessment and accreditation before the regulator is established.

“Social work is at the heart of systems that support children and families, and social workers are central to this work so it’s absolutely vital that we get this reform agenda right. This is important not only for our social workers but more importantly for our children, young people and families too. The Association would welcome further discussion with the Department about the points raised in our consultation response.”


The full consultation response can be found on the ADCS website -

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