Lack of consultation with the sector, prohibitive cost and an adverse effect on recruitment and retention have emerged as key issues for BASW England members surveyed on government proposals for a National Assessment and Accreditation System for child and family social workers (NAAS).
Out of 538 respondents to the BASW England survey, just 9% responded that NAAS would contribute towards building a more stable workforce and 59% said it would act as a disincentive to recruitment and retention. In qualitative comments, many members, both experienced social workers and those at the start of their career, said they would leave the profession if they were obliged to undertake the proposed assessment.
One social worker told BASW: “I feel that instead of wasting time and money on this, they should look at the working conditions of social workers. The caseloads are so high and then we are told that on top of that, you will have yet another tranche of examination of your role. Why would anyone want to take on a career like that?”
The survey has underpinned BASW England’s response to the Department for Education (DfE) NAAS consultation, which opened on 20 December 2016 and closed on 17 March 2017. The DfE describes NAAS as providing “for the first time, a consistent way of providing assurance that child and family social workers, supervisors and leaders have the knowledge and skills required for effective practice.”
The largest single category of responses to the BASW England survey came from social workers with a specialism in child protection (33%); the next largest group was fostering and adoption social workers (16%). 61% of all respondents were employed by a local authority. It was clear from the responses BASW England members feel very strongly that there has been a lack of consultation with the profession regarding the development of NAAS. Just 10% of social workers surveyed support the introduction of NAAS; 51% do not support it at all. Only 3% of social workers surveyed consider the proposed system to be value for money.
Just 8% of respondents knew that their employers were involved in the assessment trial and ‘proof of concept’ (32% didn’t know and 60% were not involved), with only16% of the respondents knowing about the trial were involved in all parts of the assessment.
A recurrent theme from survey respondents is that NAAS is unnecessary, given the existence of the Assisted and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), regulation and internal checks and balances required by the employer. BASW members are very clear that the NAAS is not equivalent to a holistic post-qualifying framework or even a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme. Many felt NAAS is not inclusive of all children’s social workers and is likely to destabilise the workforce rather than strengthen it.
NAAS also makes no mention of accreditation and funding of Higher Education Institution (HEI) modules currently provided at post-qualifying level, some of which are being provided as part of Teaching Partnerships. 58% of respondents believe that if NAAS is made compulsory, social workers who already hold a Post Qualifying Award (PQSW) or Advanced Award (AASW) from an approved course should be exempted from the requirement to take NAAS.
Commenting on the survey findings, BASW England Manager Maris Stratulis said: “BASW England agrees with the Government’s aim of providing assurance that social workers at all levels have the skills required for effective practice. However, we view the lack of engagement with the profession to be a significant stumbling block and believe the basic principles of NAAS should be subject to wider consultation."
To read BASW England's response to the NAAS consultation in full, click HERE