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BASW: Children's social work checklist a welcome work in progress

BASW is urging all front line social workers to respond to the consultation on a 'checklist' of skills required by children and family social workers.

Described by the Department for Education (DfE) as "the most significant transformation to the profession in a generation", the knowledge and skills statement details what social workers need to know and be able to do.

The statement has been launched by Chief Social Worker for Children and Families Isabelle Trowler and follows Sir Martin Narey's report on social work education, in which he recommended that a summary of skills be established. Community Care reports that Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, is currently developing a complementary statement for adult social workers.

Maris Stratulis, BASW England Manager said: “This move to clarify the key knowledge and skills required in practice by children and families social workers is welcome and the statement is a starting point for debate.

“It does, however, remain a work in progress and we trust that the Chief Social Worker will intensively engage with the views of social workers.

“We are disappointed that such an important consultation should be launched in the midst of the summer holiday period. This is far from ideal given that many people are going to be on leave at different points over the summer.

“We urge all employers of social workers to alert their staff to the knowledge and skills statement. Its success depends upon participation from frontline social workers and all social workers with an interest in these issues.

“It is critical that the statement is neither too narrow nor overly prescriptive. It does not and cannot exist in a vacuum; social work must be understood in its fullest context as an internationally recognised discipline.

“Of course social work students and graduates need to understand the job on the ground but being a skilled social worker involves more than just a set of tasks.

“The strength of the social work profession is its recognition of the individual within their family and community context, which includes understanding the complexities of adult behaviour and environmental issues while being able to maintain the centrality of the child's welfare.

“The statement references issues of poverty and social deprivation and it is essential that social workers do not simply focus on individuals but have an appreciation of structural oppression and what part this plays in the lives of the children and families they work with. 

“Social workers must be able to utilise anti-oppressive practice however challenging the task may be. Our members remain mindful of their decisions having ramifications for generations.

“There is little reference in the statement as to how employers are going to support social workers with their learning and development.  This statement needs to be twinned with other parts of the reform agenda such as the employers’ standards to make sure that all the responsibility does not simply rest with the social worker but it is a partnership approach.

“The knowledge and skills statement has to acknowledge the working environment social workers find themselves in. The current climate has made training and professional development very difficult as budgets are cut and members report having their training repeatedly cancelled due to their excessive workloads leaving them with no capacity to attend training.

“The messaging that has been going out from the Department for Education’s press office under former minister Michael Gove has at times been combative and critical of the profession.  We hope that the recent ministerial change will signal a move away from this approach.

“Our members are committed to raising standards but they also want to see some acknowledgement of the reality that this is a tough job that has been getting tougher.

“This is due to rising demand for services and lack of resources; not because the current workforce is incompetent.”

The consultation ends on 9 October 2014 at 5:00pm, and can be viewed here

Professional Officer Nushra Mansuri will be co-ordinating BASW’s response to the consultation and is keen to hear members' views. Please email