Just a very quick post.
1. Excellent post by Malcolm Payne which gives a bit of background to the BASW College v SCIE College rift. Payne adds a great deal of information to the board and everyone should read this post!
2. When I was scrimmaging around for information this morning, I came across a Conference being run by the GSCC for registered social workers and social work students.
It’s a free event (but you have to have a GSCC registration) run in both Leeds (4/3/11) and London (18/3/11) called
‘Building a stronger profession in challenging times’. There are a variety of workshops and I thought it sounded fascinating.
(I’ve applied for the London course but haven’t had confirmation yet!)
I’m almost weary of this story before I start to write it to be honest. Unfortunately the story is ripe for pickings, I can’t really help but go with it.
A bit of background. (note : this is my understanding and perception of what has and is happening – if I’m wrong on the details, please correct me because I haven’t trawled through documents.. it’s just as it looks from a humble practitioner’s viewpoint).
BASW (British Association of Social Workers) has long been the professional organisation for social workers in the UK (the clue is in the name). BASW does not have a large membership. It seems to have a smaller group of mostly retired, independent or management members – lacking in front-line staff. I am a member of BASW. I have been an on-off member since being a student but I’m probably in my longest continuous stretch of membership at the moment.
They publish the British Journal of Social Work, they have an advice and representation service, they have a regular magazine but they fell short of being a trade union.
One of the things they were pressuring the government through the Social Work Taskforce was the establishment of a ‘College of Social Work’. Fine, good. Whatever. Sounded nice but I wasn’t entirely sure how it would make things different and make things better for me.
The Taskforce ran with this idea and proposed this. Negotiations began. SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) was left in charge of the process and given significant amounts of money to set up a College of Social Work – but crucially, just for England rather than for the UK.
BASW seemed to feel increasingly marginalised by this process as they were only one of many partners rather than the lead partner that they had envisaged being.
There’s a lot at stake for BASW.
The College went along its merry path with BASW increasingly becoming irritated by it’s lack of leadership of the process.
Consultations took place. And then the ‘arrangement’ with Unison was made by the College. That seemed to kick off the main source of trouble.
Personally, it seems that the College development had a choice of convergence with BASW or with Unison and they picked Unison – one of the largest public sector trade unions. Unison though could deliver more members than BASW and the trade union element was one thing that the SCIE College could offer that BASW couldn’t.
BASW probably quite rightly fearing for its own existence, decided to establish herself as a ‘College of Social Work’. As of Friday, BASW is now called -
BASW – The College of Social Work
The SCIE-inspired College meanwhile sent out calls for social workers to join their own organisation in advance of it becoming an official college.
Here’s the rub.
The SCIE College says it will offer as membership services
- a magazine
- peer reviewed journal
- professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance
- representation and employment advice via Unison
- tools and resources to use in practice
- attendance at annual conferences
- special awards
- special interest groups, forums, communities of interest
It goes on and on.
The difficulty comes when you realise that this is exactly what BASW offers apart from backing of Unison.
In response, BASW has claimed it is going to develop it’s own trade union branch just for social workers.
The difficulty is that there are over 100,000 social workers or social work students currently registered by the GSCC and BASW has 13,000 members.
The GSCC only registers people in England. BASW membership covers the UK.
Can we see a problem here? Basically the SCIE College claims that BASW doesn’t have a mandate to have the prime mover role in its version of a college and BASW retorts, well, it’s better than anyone else has.
Except Unison – who may well have a higher number of social workers as members.
That’s a slightly shady argument though. Firstly, I’m a member of both Unison and BASW. I see them as having wholly different goals.
Anyway, BASW have now renamed themselves ‘BASW – The College of Social Work’. They have registered the name ‘The College of Social Work’ and seem to be insisting that the SCIE College refrain from using that term.
There have been many exchanges of letters that very few people will actually read.
The perception of disruptiveness whether right or wrong is likely to harm BASW.
I’m not an active member. I don’t have time to be but I didn’t see this coming. I received a letter through the post on Saturday about it. It didn’t inspire me very much to keep fighting the fight.
At the moment, this ‘fight’ seems somewhat distant to me. I can understand that BASW feels excluded and is fighting for its life. I wouldn’t want to see it go – there are good people there - but it really should have been fighting this fight for decades. If it had a larger membership and had inaugurated a trade union branch ten years ago without being under the threat of extinction, it would have been in a much stronger place now.
Perhaps it is the fault of the profession of social workers for not standing up for ourselves enough.
These bodies, these organisations mill around us and claim to be speaking for us but we have so little time to speak for ourselves that we allow them to be filled with the same faces and the same almost-professional committee members and board members.
The problem with BASW that I saw is that its’ vision of social workers was set very much by ‘old schoolers’. People who practised decades ago and moved into management, independent practice or the academia – thus having time to devote to committees and policy development – leaving the front line behind them.
There needed to be more support in those first few years of post-qualification working. Something that those of us who are hardly the best-paid professionals in the world, would look at and say ‘that’s value for money’, ‘that organisation knows what it’s like FOR ME’ – not just for my manager or for my wildly experienced colleague but for me as I enter this minefield of a profession.
I can’t see that the SCIE college will be any different. They haven’t made much of an effort with the interim board members. Where are the real issues that are facing us as the profession (in adult services) slips away and has slipped away?
Where was BASW 5 and 10 years ago when we should have been challenging the orthodoxy that has led to this current malaise?
I have been impressed by the drive of BASW since Dawson took over as Chief Executive, to be honest, but it may well be too little too late as BASW is judged on past performance and current membership.
As for me, my heart says I don’t want BASW to die a death. I have a positive feeling towards the organisation. I know they want and mean well. I like the idea of a UK-wide College.
But the government has pumped money into the SCIE College. I’m also a member of Unison which has sided with the SCIE version. It may also become an issue of money. I pay a lot to be a member of BASW and Unison. My gut feeling is to prefer a social work specific trade union as I don’t feel particularly well-served by Unison but Unison does have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. It is hard to imagine not having the backing of a strong union.
I just wanted everyone to get on but at the moment, this seems like a bit of a mess and I think I’ll just be sticking my head in the sand and will let them battle it out. We’ll see what emerges from the dust.
I say that with a very heavy heart. Problem with social workers, they are too busy working to get involved in conflicts outside the workplace and it doesn’t really do us any favours at all.
- BASW vs College of Social Work (fightingmonsters.wordpress.com)
- Social workers to get new professional body – or maybe two (guardian.co.uk)
Earlier in the week, I went out for lunch at the local cafe. I often go there for lunch – usually with colleagues but this time I was on my own. It’s a typical ‘greasy spoon’. It gives me a bit of space out the office and when not accompanied I’ll go on my own with a newspaper when I have the time for a ‘proper’ lunch break.
So it was I was sitting, leafing through my copy of ‘The Guardian’ and three women came and sat on the table next to me. This isn’t a particularly unusual occurrence. They were obviously students (because they were talking about exams and essays rather than their respective ages).
I wasn’t exactly listening in but it was hard not to hear the conversation due to my proximity rather than the level of conversation.
When they started talking about placements, my interest was marginally piqued and after a few more minutes of conversation, it became clear that they were social work students. Clear because.. um. . they said so (I am no great Sherlock).
I was quite surprised just because the location of the office and that particular cafe’ in a line of other similar ones is fairly random and not in the area of any of the universities. But of course, once it had been established that they were social work students, I was pretty much pretending to read my paper and listening quite intently because I found it fascinating.
They were worried about placements which were coming up. There was a brief discussion about favoured ‘pathway’ options and a discussion about how they all wanted ‘childrens’ services’ placements because it would make getting a job easier. They talked about the greater security of jobs in childrens’ services.
They were perfunctorily dismissive of adults services and working with adults. They seemed to almost resent the studying that they had to do in that area. I wonder how much of it is influenced by tutors at the university? It made me sad though.
I chuckled to myself as our borough takes students from their university so it is perfectly feasible that I could end up supervising one of them or a student from their course. In fact, as I left the cafe, I took a brief look in their direction to try and mentally register if any did come up to the office for a placement interview!
It brought back a lot of those anxieties to me. I think they must have just thought I was an odd ‘cafe character’ who glanced over to them from time to time. Every cafe seems to have a few of them.
As for me, it reminded me again how grounded in childrens’ services the social work agenda really is. I never worked generically. I’ve never worked in childrens’ services and didn’t do a placement in childrens’ services (my two placements were in adults services and mental health) when I was training. One of my social work colleagues is horrified by that and maintains that my university performed a massive disservice to me by not providing me with a placement in Childrens’ services – actually, there was such an over-subscription of people who actively wanted to work with children that they prioritised those placements to people who actively wanted them – I’m not sure the same would happen today. I know that doesn’t make me typical.
In a lot of ways, I wish there were more genericism and movement across the different ‘branches’ of social work – greater specialisation within the training programme and the post-qualification branches leads to the ‘generic qualification’ being less relevant and I don’t think it should be.
I realise I was lucky to have been able to move from adults services into mental health services. The only reason I was able to was because I’d had hefty experience working in older adults services so moving to a specialist older adults mental health team wasn’t seen as such a massive jump as I had experience of the client group. I doubt I would have got the job if I had applied for a job in one of the locality CMHTs. It’s not that common to move between ‘branches’. I hope that’s something the College or BASW or Unison or whatever the next incarnation of the GSCC will look it – although I doubt it – they have bigger problems to solve.
It doesn’t stop making me feel a little sad though for the current position and future of the profession.
Main news today is that the GSCC is to be abolished and the regulation of social workers is to fall to the HPC (Health Professions Council). I wonder if there will be a name change to recognise that social workers are not health professionals.. It’s a bit early to digest the possible impact of this. In the wake of the abolition of the GTC (General Teaching Council), I suppose it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. But it was to me. I expect the plan to roll out registration to all social care workers has gone down the pan which is a great shame.
The GSCC haven’t always been the most effective and have had very well-documented problems with the backlog of conduct cases but it will be interesting to see how social care fares as a separate entity when the HPC takes over.
At the moment, I am vaguely indifferent as there have been so many changes and readjustments over the last few years that it just feels like another one. I have a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the HPC so will read a bit more and no doubt have further views which might have more substance to them over the next couple of days!
I can’t help feeling that I wish the government would just give us a little time to bed one idea down before changing everything again but as one of my main criticisms of the GSCC was that it was not run by social workers, I can’t see that in particular getting any better!
One of the Task Force recommendations was the establishment of a College of Social Work with potentially Royal chartered status for Social Workers. It fact, the summary quote is
A new and independent College for Social Work led and owned by the profession, which must establish a stronger voice for social work and exercise appropriate influence over national policy making and public debate. Ministers will support it to become the first Royal College of Social Work as soon as possible;
So far so good.
However it has been undergoing a few birthing pains. BASW (British Association of Social Workers) has been sidelined and although there is some potential debate as to whether this has been forced or elected, it has led to a potential split in the different interests who are involved in establishing the College. The issue has been around those five words ‘led and owned by the profession’.
BASW is now set to ballot all her members about setting up an Independent College
. The government, it says, has had too much input into the ‘official’ College talks. It has involved parties but has sidelined social workers in the set-up and had no intention of setting about allowing actual practising qualified and registered social workers to have a say in the process of the College. The ‘owned and led by the profession’ has been or is at danger of being, lost.
It is a debate that may split professionals.
I come to this point as a member of BASW – and it is worth bearing in mind that most social workers in the UK are not. Membership runs at around 12,500. It is the only professional representation though that we, as social workers have. UNISON (the public sector trade union) has too broad a brush to wield and has interests in too many different areas to be able to speak for social work as a profession – although I’d venture a guess that a lot of social workers are members.
I remain a little bitter that the GSCC (General Social Care Council – which maintains a register of all social workers) is so far removed from actual social workers and front line practice.
I’m still not convinced as to which way I will vote in the members’ ballot though. I like the idea of a wholly independent college. I like the idea and feel it is necessary for a college to be organised by social workers and for too long we have allowed government interference to override our own aims, goals and status.
When I talk about ‘government’ I do not mean government in any political form as I have no doubt that any political colour of government will have a similar impact. Social Work is not a ‘vote grabber’ and pushing money or voices into a government sanctioned body is not something that will spring to any government’s mind immediately post-election.
I think a part of BASW’s reasoning that any planning instigated by central government will be lost in the flurry of a potential change in government.
Ideally, I would have preferred BASW’s sphere of influence to have been maintained within the ‘official’ talks although I’m not remotely privy to what might have happened which led to the ‘parting of ways’.
I am not convinced an independent ‘breakaway’ college set up by BASW can survive though. BASW needs to engage more actual social workers and unfortunately cost will be an issue. While I am paying for BASW membership, union membership and GSCC registration – a further request for more finances would push me hard – and although it might be difficult to accept a government-sanctioned college set up between professional civil services, policy-makers and academics as opposed to practitioners – it would be hard to resist joining up so as to make a voice heard.
Hilton Dawson (Chief Executive of BASW) writes in the Guardian about the need for an independent College. It is an heartfelt piece and is hard not to find his arguments compelling however I wonder if it is a bit late – that BASW should have perhaps, pre-empted the Government talks and done this a while back. I know it’s easy to be wise in retrospect.
But it is, at least, creating debate and controversy in the field and showing some kind of action. Which is better than just allowing things to wash over us in the inexhaustable workloads and papers that need to be signed and completed on a daily basis.
As I said earlier, I haven’t decided which way to vote yet. I see the appeal of the rhetoric – it is hard to refute to be honest – but perhaps it is the years of practice that make me cynical of the future of the proposal.
I expect it is a debate I will return to more than a few times over the coming weeks.
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- Social work needs an independent college (guardian.co.uk)
Ed chatting with Deirdre
Deirdre Sanders is employed by The Sun newspaper as their agony aunt. She was chosen by Ed Balls, the Ministers for Children, Schools and Families to sit on the Task Force which has been set up to establish and decide on the future way forward for Social Work in the UK in the wake of the awful tragedy of a child dying when under the supervision of social workers. I find it hard to stomach and I won’t pretend I don’t. Unfortunately, people who want to kill and harm other people, and particularly especially vulnerable people, will sometimes do just that. Of course lessons must be learnt but some kind of knee-jerk ‘There’s something wrong that needs to be put right through political posturing’ fits uncomfortably.
Now, from what I understand there was to be a debate about social work generally in any case, but it was the Minister who seemed to link it directly to one particular instance and the understandable public outrage against the ‘obviously incompetent’ social workers who allowed this child to die. I have always said that I can never defend poor practice but it can and does happen. If there is something systemic that can change to improve and promote the role of social work then of course it should be done.
Deirdre however, I remain sceptical about. She promotes herself as a ‘voice of the people’ but seems to deal in the lowest common denominator and what I think she really needs to do is to speak more to social workers, rather than accuse us of ‘defensiveness’ because we feel slighted at her inclusion on a panel of those who will decide our future path. Even more incredible is her position in the light of the lack of any front line social worker in the children and families sector.
It is interesting to look at the members chosen, in fact and here they are
- Moira Gibb, Chief Executive, Camden Borough Counci
- Andrew Webb, Corporate Director, Children and Young People, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
- Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, The Children’s Society
- Celia Atherton OBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Research in Practice Anne Beales, Director of Service User Involvement, Together – Working for Wellbeing
- Kim Bromley-Derry, Director of Children’s Services, Newham
- Sue Butcher, Head of Children and Young People’s Services, Gloucestershire
- Richard Jones, Director of Adult Services, Lancashire
- Diane Mallett, Senior Social Work practitioner, Barnsley Adult Social Services
- Helga Pile, Unison’s, National Officer for Social Care
- James Riley, Director of Adult Services, Hammersmith and Fulham
- Bridget Robb, Professional Officer, British Association of Social Workers
- Deidre Sanders, Agony Aunt: The Sun
- Professor Sue White, Professor of Social Work, Lancaster University
- Neil Wragg MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Youth at Risk
- Maxine Wrigley MBE, National Coordinator, Voice
From that list we see one social work practitioner from adult services. I know some focus group has been added to this list but looking at the initial list and the lack of any social work input from mental health services, it seems that assigning one of the precious places to an ‘agony aunt’ has little credence.
Deirdre Sanders has defended her position in Community Care as well as, rather unhelpfully, accusing those who question her position as building some kind of bunkered defence mentality.
Her defence of her position is
was invited to join the Task Force because I hear from – and with my counselling team reply to – hundreds of readers with problems every week, many of them your clients.
I’m sorry but Deirdre makes an ENORMOUS assumption about who ‘our clients’ are (because she is talking directly to social workers here).
I wonder if she is including my clients who are affected by dementia across any racial, political and socio-economic divisions.
She points out that she has been ‘trying to build bridges’ and I’d ask where those bridges are. She did not attend the Community Care Live event that she was slated to. I’d love to see if she had made any attempts to speak to social workers. Actually, I’d like to have had the opportunity to speak to ANYONE connected with the Task Force but unfortunately, the dates in London were all booked up within days. I was told that there were no places available. Perhaps it would be better to have opened up more general and free dates rather than confine the ‘discussion’ to a safe, GSCC conference which costs hundreds of pounds to attend and is unlikely to involve many front-line workers who can free themselves on a busy work day.
She paints herself as maligned by defensive social workers who are having a go at her when all she wants to do is help. I’m sure that’s just how she feels but if she has no awareness of a wider political role of being Ed Balls’ pawn in the process and a lack of understanding that it is her role rather than her persona that is being queried, she might have been a little less tetchy in her response and honestly, it is undignified and unbecoming.
I’m also disappointed that her response keeps making distinctions between us and our clients. I have to say that, you know, sometimes we are the clients. The more distinctions we make, the more removed we become from the importance of the decisions we make.
There is a narrow narrow line between receiving and providing services. I, myself, over the last couple of months sat down as a user of a service of a social worker in the hospice in which my father died and I was offered me that counsel and support that I have offered in similar circumstances to other people. One of my current ‘clients’ worked as a social worker for 30 years in a local authority in which I took my first job – indeed, and we have discussed it, it seems as if we were in the same borough at the same time!
So social work isn’t and shouldn’t be about ‘us and them’. It is about ‘us and us’. Sometimes we see each other on different sides of the fence but not often – and by presenting it as such it shows a lack of understanding of some of the processes that we engage in.
I hope never to come back to this point again as I feel I have more or less exhausted it. Honestly, at the moment, apart from paying my requisite £30 per year to maintain my registration, I have no interest in the GSCC.
If any body is there to represent and speak for the profession, it has to be the newly invigorated British Association of Social Workers and good luck to them.
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Tags: agony aunt, british social work, deirdre sanders, Ed Balls, General Social Care Council, general social care council conference, gscc conference, gscc., health, local authority, local government, personal, politics, social care, social services, social work, social work taskforce
Before I forget, a petition has been started by a user, Roberts, on Community Care’s CareSpace forum for social workers who are opposed to Deirdre Saunders’ invitation to the GSCC annual conference to sign.
I was happy to sign as I think it shows both the out of touch nature of the GSCC and my own strong feelings about an agony aunt having been invited to the Task Force and thus making a mockery of the serious goal of changing social work. If input from a journalist had been required there are many who have more relevant knowledge and experience, there are user representatives quite rightly on the Task Force, but The Sun’s Agony Aunt? Well, my own opinion has been frequently voiced here and the petition’s popularity is rising..
Oh dear. I suppose he’s trying to claw back any credibility he might once of had. Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families writes a blatheringly sympathetic piece in the Guardian about how much he supports social workers.
Nice job, Ed. But why not write the same type of piece in The Sun, huh? By writing in the Guardian, you are hardly setting the cat among the pigeons. Perhaps your stooge, Deirdre Saunders, is supposed to be doing that – while advising teens on sex-related problems, she was appointed to the Social Work Task Force to advise the government how to ‘fix’ social work.
What about a radical idea of social workers who have experience actually doing the job, leading the way.
Social Work, is and will always be a political football – it is an aspect of society that often wants to be forgotten and those who are doing the work as easy to pinpoint and criticise. Not that I’m adverse to criticism – it can be rightly delivered and indeed, there is no shortage of positive initiatives that can be taken to both promote social work education (and more funding for research as well, in my humble opinion – because a broad base of research knowledge is vital to promote the profession away from local and national government targets which can consume the actual nature of the job and the profession itself).
I never became a social worker to be loved, or even respected. Honestly, I don’t expect that. I want to do the job in my most effective way and to deliver services that I would want if I were in the situation to need them. That’s how I play things out in my mind anyway. I think – what would I want, for myself or for my family – if I were sitting on the other side of the room, or the telephone, speaking to a social worker. It’s pretty basic as far as empathy goes, but I like to think it works. It is often not my training and my competence that restricts this but rather over-management and micro-management – and management by targets that restricts this. Fear of risk and managing risk out of situations.
So back to Ed. Ed Balls, who firstly took all the political ‘credit’ to be gained by remarking how poorly trained social workers are, how our ranks can be swelled by ‘lawyers and teachers’ who can qualify at super-fast speeds, who seems oblivious to the fact that it is possible to qualify already with a post-graduate degree in social work – perhaps he should actually learn a little what the job actually involves and about what the training and post-qualification training involves.
Unfortunately, he has lost any semblance of credibility by his lack of understanding of social work. And meanwhile, silence from the Health Secretary who probably doesn’t even know he is responsible for the decisions made regarding adult social work.
It can be more than disheartening to have such obviously insincere politicians making these insincere proclamations to sell the profession to the general public. I wonder if he could make a little more effort though at repairing some of the damage with professionals in question.
Nothing that Balls has been done has been supportive. There was a scheduled review of social work anyway, which transformed into the Task Force - but as long as a newspaper agony aunt as a place on the Task Force, it remains something of a mockery of a process – even though some of the interim reports have had some valid points, it is hard to get away from the fact that he saw the need to appoint someone with absolutely no background knowledge of social work – a journalist from The Sun, no less, into the process.
I’m sure that got him some political brownie points with the red-top journalists. Congratulations, Ball.
I think the issues are broader than this though – a government who thinks it can write to an agony aunt for the solution to the profession’s poor performances? Really? The GSCC is probably as much of the problem judging by it’s own poor record. Who it invites to its over-priced conference is almost an irrelevance although not quite because it makes a statement of condoning the appointment – but the GSCC is virtually devoid of any front-line practising social workers who remember what it is like to work in the field in any case.
They can sit in their no-doubt-sparkling offices in the nicer parts of town and debate and discuss at their over-priced conferences as much as they like but can probably hardly remember any real social work that is done and that needs to be done.
So back to Ed’s article in the Guardian. He writes
I was asked in an interview at the beginning of the year what achievement I would most like to be able to recall from 2009. I said that I wanted above all for social workers to feel the hugely difficult job they do is better understood, and that their professionalism is properly supported and challenged to deliver the highest possible practice standards.
My wish for 2009 is that Ed Balls has a better understanding of social work himself.
My wish is that the target-based work is appraised in relation to the professional standards and the worthlessness of some of these false targets is recognised so that time can be released to do the frontline ground work that needs to be done.
My wish is that the GSCC and the overly complicated post-qualification routes that seem to be a mashed up to create money for the universities providing them are properly regulated and approved so that learning and training can be both mandatory but also useful.
My wish is that people who care about the profession are given a voice in its development although more and more I have a feeling that this needs to be created ground-up.
My wish is to be given some flexibility within my role to work on prevention rather than solely on patching up already distressed situations.
Social Work should not need to simply react to situations but should and could be more proactive.
The radical roots of the 70s have been diluted in figures and numbers and targets. It is easy to politicise these issues but we are simply reaping the seeds of Thatcherism.
The General Social Care Council really has got itself in a pickle. A particularly unrepresentative quango established by the government to regulate social care and social work professionals (in England as the other constituent countries in the UK have their own versions).
They have had mixed levels of effectiveness all round. All social workers have to be registered as social workers in order to practice and to use the protected title (and pay for the privilege of course). They are also responsible for the codes of practice and for disciplining social workers who break those codes or who might otherwise be unfit to practice as social workers.
And therein lies the rub. Mike Wardle, the Chief Executive of the GSCC was disciplined and suspended last month because there is such a high backlog of cases to be heard against social workers and a lack of appropriate risk assessments pertaining to these cases.
The Deputy Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, Paul Philip, was appointed to help put things in order. Hardly instils confidence.
The agency as a whole is facing a review to determine whether it is effective at carrying out its job at all. I only wish they had actually considered social workers, and practising or at the very least, recently practising social workers fit to monitor and judge our own rather than bringing in a preponderance of lay people and academic social workers who probably last practiced decades ago. Of course there is a need for a lay response but there also have to be people who have a current and active knowledge of social work from all levels and not only high echelons of management or the safe walls of ivory towers.
But back to the backlog – so to speak. Hilton Dawson, the Chief Executive of BASW (British Association of Social Workers) released a statement yesterday explaining that these hearings were being rushed through and may not be giving the accused parties sufficient time to prepare their own cases. BASW run an advice and representation service so would be in a position to be assisting with the defence of some of those social workers whose appeals are being heard. The statement released though gives a couple of examples
In a recent example a 295 page ‘bundle’ was received by the A and R (Advice and Representation) Service 3 working days before a hearing which clashed with prior commitments of the officer who was to undertake representation. Our request for a postponement of a few days was summarily refused and our request for a review of this decision was ignored.
I do not believe that the fancy lawyers employed by the GSCC at public expense would have been treated in this way. In the past the GSCC have quite rightly expressed concern about social workers appearing before them unrepresented yet now we have them wilfully undermining those basic rights.
So is the right to a fair hearing being lost in the tails of the incompetence that led to such a massive backlog in the first place? Most probably.
The more I read about the GSCC the more I either sigh with resignation or work myself up into a grump.
And while I’m on a general grump with the GSCC – sorry, their Annual Conference? Cost £170 + VAT. They REALLY think a lot of social workers – just social workers, not social work managers, department managers etc etc are going to be able to either pay that or convince their L + D departments to pay that to go to the conference? Maybe I just inhabit a different planet. Then they invite Deirdre Sanders – Sun agony aunt and (it pains me to write it) member of the Social Work Taskforce – who dropped out of the free-to-enter Community Care Live show which would have brought her face to face with a LOT more social workers..
She doesn’t speak for us, she doesn’t speak for our profession, she is a pawn of the government and the Sun who have no interest in quality social work but rather in more column inches and cheap votes at the expense of thought and consideration. She should stick to what she actually knows about. Although that would probably free up too much of her time.
I have very little, if any confidence in the GSCC anymore. And it shouldn’t be that way.
Tags: agony aunt, basw, British Association of Social Workers, chief executive, deirdre sanders, General Social Care Council, gscc annual conference, gscc., mike wardle, paul philip, social work taskforce, the sun