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BASW-SWU ready to support and advise social workers on NAAS

Joint statement from BASW chief executive, Ruth Allen, and SWU general secretary, John McGowan

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and Social Workers Union (SWU) are ready to support and advise social workers in the sites implementing the National Assessment and Accreditation Scheme (NAAS) for children’s social work. 

Five pilot local authorities are taking part in the initial roll out of NAAS this month. We jointly stress the voluntary nature of the scheme and believe it is essential social workers are not put under undue pressure to participate.

We are aware Unison are encouraging members not to take part in this voluntary scheme following a motion at their AGM.

Our view is that social workers should make up their own minds about participating and we will support and advise them whatever their decision.

We have raised professional and educational concerns about NAAS since its inception. We also canvassed members’ opinion and reported to the government that the testing scheme originally proposed was professionally and educationally flawed and very unpopular. 

This was not because social workers reject the need to attain standards through post-qualifying schemes in principle, but because the specific proposals were faulty in design and implementation.

BASW and SWU support the ongoing development of good practice – social workers need ongoing access to educationally-sound learning, development and professional opportunities that are both challenging and supportive.

We need to cherish motivated, skilled social workers and maintain the morale, confidence and skill levels of whose who challenge society’s injustices and provide support to people in need day after day. 

We are pleased that our efforts, combined with that of other organisations such as the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and Unison, led to a significant scaling back and slowing down of NAAS from its origins as a high volume, high pressure testing scheme.

It risked damaging children’s social work and placing widescale and unnecessary pressure on social workers without confidence children and families would benefit.

The question is whether the scheme will change enough to be beneficial, worth the investment and gain the confidence and support of the sector.  

NAAS must also not be a distraction from more fundamental issues facing children’s social work across all 152 local authorities of England - such as workforce stability, reasonable workloads, supportive management and supervision and access to ongoing CPD. Underpinning everything is the need for sufficient resources to meet rising demand from children and families, particularly those increasingly impoverished through widespread austerity policies.

A massive deficit in children’s social care funding, predicted to be at least £2 billion by 2020 according to the LGA and ADCS, needs to be addressed. No skills testing regime can bring about wholesale improvement in the experience of children and families while these widely-acknowledged gaps in resources get worse.

BASW and SWU are campaigning on these issues together and with other organisations. Children and adults with support needs deserve the best social work. That requires the right funding and the best organisational and professional support for social workers. 

We want to hear from and support any social workers opting in or out of NAAS (whether they are our members or not), and from the organisations implementing it. 

Please email england@basw.co.uk or call 0121 622 8413.

Ruth Allen, chief executive, British Association of Social Workers

John McGowan, general secretary, Social Workers Union