Okay so, let’s take stock of what we have in the pipeline for Social Work at the minute. We have the review of Social Work by Sir Martin Narey as it is thought that it is currently inadequate and not equipping new Social Workers with the skills needed. We have this frontline program that is aiming to fast track new graduates and career changers. We have the ASYE program to support new graduates on the job to become solid robust professionals.
I have a question, are these people talking to each other? An article on Community Care says “Josh MacAlister, the man behind Frontline, suggests this is because he and his team are proposing a more radical overhaul of the way social workers are trained. They are not trying to condense the existing degree curriculum into one year as Step Up did into 18 months; instead they are designing a new curriculum altogether and changing the way it is delivered to students.” I guess he fancies himself a genius.
Instead of two separate people looking at education, how about the money being used for this frontline Social Work program go toward ensuring current Social Workers don’t lose their jobs and the groups working on these two separate projects both looking at Social Work education, join forces. If there needs to be an overhaul of the education system anyway, why are two different people doing it with separate aims???
Get it together! Social Work education should incorporate students learning:
- How to complete assessments: if you’re taught the basics well, you will be able to pick up any template and do a thorough assessment
- How to put together and insightful, thought-out analysis
- How to record information
- How to complete a care plan: again, if this is done well a Social Worker should be able to pick up any template and put together a coherent plan of action
- Research methods and the use of research
- Social Work theory and how this is used practically
- Different Social Work interventions and in which settings these are most productive/useful
- Interviewing and engagement skills
- History of Social Work and how it came to be where it is today
- Human development and behaviour
Basically, Social Work education should cover those universal skills that would be needed on any Social Work job. More specific training (court skills, form f assessments, partnership working, lone working, case management, etc.) should be taught on the job. I must reiterate, Social Work education should cover transferrable skills present in Social Work and job specific skills should be taught on the job.
If the education needs to be revamped and the government feel he is someone to be involved then Mr MacAllister and Sir Martin Narey need to join forces and overhaul it. This needs to include a better filtering process for candidates, greater and more consistent support across the country for students, robust ASYE candidate training to include the specific skills needed to be a Social Worker in children’s or adults as well as a commitment contract once they have completed the program.
Any education program needs to include a written statement and interview. I would also argue that there needs to be psychometric testing as part of the assessment, specifically verbal reasoning as this specifically relates to analysis and a written exercise to evaluate their abilities.
Once you’ve improve the current structure of education you can add something akin to an advance standing program for those with previous relevant experience. These would be career changers with customer care experience or relevant volunteer experience. This would be recent graduates with relevant experience working with people.
The Fast Track program is proposing to assess confidence, empathy, communication skills, resilience and motivation. Hmmm, communication skills, yes; motivation skills, yes; confidence I would argue only develops over time and confidence in one area does not ensure confidence when working with difficult to engage and challenging clients.
I think we need to really look at what we are doing as a profession. Everyone is talking about how there is a low perception of Social Work. Well, these disjointed and repetitive initiatives do not help. We need to get together on these things and build on what’s already in place before moving on to something new that is going to be an extra cost. I argue that if you start with a thorough analysis of what you have and what is actually needed, you will be able to identify the gaps and come up with a cogent argument/proposal to government for funding to boost the profile of Social Work and turn us into the thriving, productive profession we should be.