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Transgender awareness in child and family social work education

Research Report

In January 2016 the Women and Equalities Committee published a report on Transgender Equality. In this report evidence was identified that suggested transgender people experience significant levels of inequality across a wide range of policy areas. This included inequality in the provision of public services, where evidence of discrimination and transphobia were identified within schools, social services, the NHS, prisons and probation services, and the police. One of the recommendations was specifically aimed at social work: “We have heard worrying evidence about some social workers’ lack of knowledge on gender variance…The Government should seek to address this through formal training as a matter of urgency” (House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee 2016: 78) .

In July 2016 the Government submitted a response to the Women and Equalities Committee signposting a commitment to ensuring all public sector professionals receive adequate training on gender identity and gender variance. This commitment was framed in recognition of the diversity of the public sector workforce, and the need to assess the level, depth and frequency of training required in each profession separately. Specifically on social work Government committed to “commission a study to ascertain the adequacy and consistency of knowledge on gender variance in initial social work training and continuous professional development (CPD)” (Government Equalities Office 2016: 29)

Within this context this study was commissioned by the Department for Education to ascertain the adequacy and consistency of child and family social worker education in regard to gender identity and gender variance. This study therefore seeks to determine whether the current provision of initial education and ongoing training within the child and family social work profession permits a sufficient understanding of transgender issues, in order to provide evidence as to whether additional training materials should be made available in the future.