'Revamp social work training'

January 2, 1998

A leading university social work professor has called on the government to recommend radical changes in the training of social workers in its forthcoming social service white paper.

Just before Christmas, health minister Paul Boateng announced the abolition of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work after a two-month review. For 25 years, CCETSW had regulated the training of social workers in the United Kingdom, awarding qualifications and distributing grants.

Over the years, CCETSW has been accused of trendy ideologies rooted in the 1960s, while social workers have been blamed for several cases in which they failed to prevent the deaths of children.

CCETSW will be replaced by a General Social Care Council, which will regulate training. It will have to address the fact that most of those working in social care receive no training at all. It may also try to regulate social workers once they are in work. At the moment, there is no continuing regulation as exists for doctors and other professionals.

Martin Davies, professor of social work at the University of East Anglia, said he was not optimistic about what difference the GSCC could make. "I think there are severe structural problems in social work," he said, citing the fact that graduate social workers often prefer to work in child services, leaving the majority of work, with the elderly and the disabled, to care workers with little training.

"The whole of social work training is in need of a radical shake-up," Professor Davies said. "If the government uses this opportunity to do so, it will be good. But it depends on how adventurous and radical the white paper is."

Jeffrey Greenwood, CCETSW chairman, welcomed the GSCC's creation, saying that CCETSW had long campaigned for a statutory regulatory body for the social services workforce. He added: "CCETSW is looking forward to working closely with key stakeholders to achieve a seamless transfer of functions and ensure the maintenance of high-quality education and training provision during this time of change."

CCETSW's chief executive, Jennifer Bernard, also stressed continuity. She said the CCETSW expected some protection for its staff to switch across to the GSCC.

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