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BASW Cymru statement on Wales student social workers

We are seeking clear guidance for student social workers

BASW Cymru is liaising with Social Care Wales, to ensure clear guidance for student social workers around the suspension of qualifying programmes. Whilst we understand that these are unprecedented times and that our Regulator is faced with an enormous task, the advice that is issued to students and to the Social Work Degree Partnerships, may seem contradictory.

‘In light of Government guidance issued on 23 March 2020, we recommend all student social worker practice learning opportunities are now suspended. We understand students will need to dis-engage from placements with appropriate handover of cases and completion of any outstanding casework documentation. Should there be any student practice learning opportunities where degree partnerships advocate they should be able to continue, these will be discussed on a case-by-case basis,’

BASW Cymru is calling for a unified and consistent approach across all social work degree partnerships to ensure we protect our social work students and those needing care and support. Where placements are not suspended, there should be a clear rationale and reporting mechanisms from degree partnerships choosing not to suspend placements.

There must also be mechanisms for ensuring that case closures and transfers, during the pandemic, comply with codes of ethics, codes of practice, with robust decision making.

We understand that suspending placements will lead to a gap in the workforce, so we need clarity around how social work students can be either fast-tracked into qualification or safely and meaningfully redirected to supporting the front-line of care and support, in non-social work roles, as an interim measure - both outcomes we fully support with clear guidance around how ongoing support and development needs will be met. Where social students need to complete portfolio’s before qualification, clarity is needed on how those students and practice assessors, will be properly supported in meeting the qualifying requirements, during these most difficult of times.

It has also been brought to our attention that students in University halls of residence will not be charged accommodation fees. We need clarity on the position for social work students in private rented accommodation, so they don’t suffer additional financial burden.

We are also asking that Social Care Wales and programme providers find out if any social work students are still placed away from home and if there are any, what plans are in place to either support their safe return home, or support them until they are able to do so.

We offer our full support to Social Care Wales, in these most difficult of times. Now more than ever, we must work in partnership and collaboration to support the safety and wellbeing of those needing care and support along with our most valued workforce.

Allison Hulmes

National Director, BASW Cymru

Further information