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BASW takes resounding poll mandate into College Development Group talks

After a resounding victory in its national referendum, BASW is set to rejoin the government-backed development group taking forward plans for a College of Social Work.

At a meeting on 29 April, College Development Group (CDG) chair Allan Bowman welcomed BASW back to the group and took on board the Association’s arguments for extending the remit of the College to the whole UK.

BASW was able to rejoin the discussions with its hand vastly strengthened by the referendum vote in which 89% of participating social workers said they wanted an independent College.

In a letter to members, BASW chair Fran Fuller said it was made clear to the CDG that the Association’s democratic structure and credibility was vital to the success of the College.

“BASW are proud that when faced with a fundamental decision about the future of our profession we empowered thousands of social workers to make their views known through a referendum,” Ms Fuller said in the letter.

While BASW remains fully committed to the success of a College of Social Work in England, it plans to forge ahead with discussions in the devolved countries about a UK-wide College and hopes that these will form part of a consultation being launched by the CDG on 18 May.

BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson said the referendum result meant that the Association was able to rejoin the CDG on its own terms. “We’ve now got a very clear way forward for the development of a College right across the UK,” he said. “The CDG’s acceptance of this was music to our ears.”

Mr Dawson said the CDG chair had reacted positively to BASW’s argument that the College should be democratic and social worker-led, adding that the Association would be involved in the appointment of the College’s interim chair and in further discussions about the accountability of the interim board.

“The CDG understands that the credibility and sustainability of the College depends on the effective participation of social workers,” he said. “We know that social workers are very keen to be involved, as illustrated by the fantastic result that we got in our referendum.”

Allan Bowman said the CDG was pleased to welcome BASW back. “We are all committed to improving support for social work and are keen to encourage all stakeholders, including BASW members, to participate in the UK-wide consultation about the future College.”