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Isabelle Trowler unveils new standards for senior social workers

Chief Social Worker announces the knowledge and skills statements for supervisors and leaders of child and family social workers.

A brand new set of standards for senior social work supervisors and leaders has been unveiled today by the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families.

For the first time ever, the knowledge and skills statements set out in 1 place what practice supervisors and practice leaders need to know and be able to do in order to deliver top quality, front-line social work for vulnerable children and families.

Today’s announcement is the next step in the government’s drive to overhaul social work education and training, with the introduction of a new national accreditation system for the specialist and highly demanding area of child and family social work.

Accreditation will require successful completion of a rigorous assessment process involving theory exams, extensive observation of practice and feedback from children and families themselves.

The Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, Isabelle Trowler, who has spent over 20 years in child and family social work, said:

From my own time as a social worker, from a practitioner to senior leader, I know that effective front line social work requires a wealth of skills and a breadth of knowledge at each and every level - from the front line right up to the most senior social work leaders.

I am determined to ensure that we earn the public’s respect for and confidence in our profession, particularly from the children, young people and families with whom we work. Having absolute clarity about what practice supervisors and practice leaders need to know and be able to do, and assessing that knowledge and skill against a national standard is a critical part of this ambition. I am very grateful to all who have helped develop the standards and in particular the young people and families who have so helpfully contributed.

Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, said:

Having grown up with around 90 foster children and worked as a family lawyer in the care system for over a decade, I’ve seen first hand the pressures that social workers are under - and also the wonders they can work in the most desperate circumstances.

These new standards announced today will help set senior social workers on a whole new path to success - setting the very highest standards for child and family social work, providing greater assurance to the public and most importantly ensuring the very best for our children.

The knowledge and skills statements will now be subject to public consultation for 5 weeks. The statements set out what senior child and family social workers are expected to know and be able to do, including:

  • create a culture where excellent practice is expected and celebrated
  • help families to change and flourish
  • hold high ambition for children and young people in public care
  • recognise emerging social work talent and build a workforce for the future
  • hold accountability for child and family social work practice and its impact on the lives of children and families

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation on knowledge and skills for supervisors and leaders is available.

  2. Today’s announcement reflects the Chief Social Worker’s and the government’s commitment to improve the quality of social work and overhaul the child protection system to make it more effective. To date, we have:

  • launched the Innovation Programme, offering councils and partner agencies the opportunity to overhaul their child and family social work systems, backed by £100 million
  • supported the new fast-track Frontline qualification programme for child and family social workers and continued our Step Up to Social Work programme, in addition to the £400 million on the social work bursary to make sure there are enough highly skilled staff to meet demand
  • published revised guidance which makes clear the responsibilities of different professions in promoting the welfare of our most vulnerable children and protecting them from harm
  • overhauled the way in which serious case reviews are conducted so social workers are able to learn lessons from serious child protection incidents and improve decision making
  • taken tough action against councils whose child protection services are judged inadequate

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