Probation a good move for new social workers

It may only be a trailer for the main event, but Moira Gibb’s confirmation that the Social Work Taskforce (SWTF) will recommend in it’s forthcoming final report that social work graduates will have to complete a probationary year of supervised practice before being allowed to register with the GSCC, will be welcomed with interest by social workers.

Ms Gibb, chair of the taskforce, told Community Care Live delegates that while the social work degree wouldn’t be radically overhauled, a year of supervised and assessed practice would help to drive up standards.

The idea of a probationary year seems logical. After all, it is asking a lot to expect someone fresh out of university to instantly be able to deal with complex, challenging and sometimes deeply upsetting, cases.

There are nuances of practice that can only be picked up by doing the job and learning from more experienced colleagues. In many other professions, a probationary, supervised period has to be completed.

Many newly-qualified social workers have complained about workloads and a lack of support in the recent past. Also, one of the recommendations to the Taskforce by the Association of Professors of Social Work was for a probationary year.

While this measure won’t prevent another Baby P from happening – there will always be child deaths – it will give social workers more of the tools and confidence to be able to practice more effectively and drive up standards, which will at least reduce the chances of more child tragedies occurring.

The final report from the SWTF is expected in “the next few weeks” and hopefully this early snippet is indicative of the content of rest of the report. Social workers will certainly hope so – if it is, it could bring about positive change to the profession.

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Filed under children's social work, social work training

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