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BASW dismisses Ofsted social work findings as “absurd”

An Ofsted survey of social workers that shows they feel well-supported in their jobs has been dismissed by BASW as “absurd, ridiculous and out of touch with reality”.

Findings from the inspectorate’s first annual survey of social workers’ views, based on more than 4,000 responses from across England, found that most felt well-supported by line managers and happy with training opportunities.

But BASW chief executive Hilton Dawson said: “Ofsted’s suggestion is at odds with BASW’s research, the anecdotal evidence we receive every year from thousands of social workers and the daily experiences of our Advice & Representation Service.”

A poll carried out by BASW in June revealed that 63 per cent of social workers felt their department was understaffed and 96 per cent were concerned that cuts would significantly increase risk for service users. Mr Dawson said that child protection social workers faced excessive caseloads, bureaucracy, poor employer support and insufficient time to work with children and families.

One in five surveyed for Ofsted said they did not get enough time to work directly with children and families and half of social workers do not feel fully informed about the lessons from local serious case reviews. Chief inspector Christine Gilbert described the findings on serious case reviews as “worrying,” but said she believed the results from the Ipsos MORI-commissioned poll showed “valuable insights” into children’s social work.

But Mr Dawson said: “Underneath the headline statement, this survey confirms what we already know about a significant absence of training, excessive caseloads, insufficient time to do the job, high levels of bureaucracy and a continued failure to disseminate lessons from serious case reviews.”

One social worker, who responded to the survey, said: “The majority of us are working long hours to simply keep up. This issue of long hours is ‘hidden’ due the expectation of management and the ethos of disciplinaries. We are frightened to say we cannot manage our workloads.”

Mr Dawson said: “Blinkered headlines aren’t the solution to social work’s problems. We need investment in training, pay and career structures, combined with real measures to reduce bureaucracy and free social workers to spend time with children and families.”

He added: “I urge Ofsted to throw its weight behind every possible effort to give our invaluable social work professionals the time and resources they need to make a difference with the most vulnerable people in our country.”

To view Safeguarding and looked after children go to www.ofsted.gov.uk