Social worker

5. KNOWLEDGE – Develop and apply relevant knowledge from social work practice and research, social sciences, law, other professional and relevant fields, and from the experience of people who use services

We develop our professional knowledge throughout our careers and sustain our curiosity. As a unified profession, we develop core knowledge that relates to our purpose, values and ethics. We also develop specific knowledge needed for fields of practice and roles. Our knowledge comes from social work practice, theory, law, research, expertise by experience, and from other relevant fields and disciplines. All social workers contribute to creating as well as using professional knowledge. We understand our distinctive knowledge complements that of other disciplines to provide effective services.


  • demonstrate a comprehensive understanding and use of knowledge related to my area of practice, including critical awareness of current issues and new evidence-informed practice research
  • demonstrate knowledge and application of appropriate legal and policy frameworks and guidance that inform and mandate social work practice. This may include Knowledge and Skills statements in adults' or children’s social work
  • apply legal reasoning, using professional legal expertise and advice appropriately, recognising where scope for professional judgement exists
  • demonstrate and apply to practice a working knowledge of human growth and development throughout the life course
  • recognise the short and long term impact of psychological, socio-economic, environmental and physiological factors on people’s lives, taking into account age and development and how this informs practice 
  • understand the value of systemic approaches and how they can be used to understand and work with the person or family in their environment, social context and relationships, and inform my practice 
  • acknowledge the centrality of relationships for people and the key concepts of attachment, separation, loss, change and resilience 
  • understand forms of harm and their impact on people, and the implications for practice, drawing on concepts of strength, resilience, vulnerability, risk and resistance, and apply to practice 
  • demonstrate a critical knowledge of the range of theories and models for social work intervention with individuals, families, groups and communities and the methods derived from them 
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of social welfare policy, its evolution, implementation and impact on people, social work, other professions and inter-agency working 
  • recognise the contribution and use research and other evidence (eg practice evidence and evidence from experts by experience) to inform and develop my practice 
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of research methods 
  • value and take account of the expertise of service users, carers and other professionals and seek their feedback on my practice/role
  • consolidate knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and risks of new technologies, digital resources, online communications, virtual environments and social media in social work.

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