Too easy?


The Guardian reports that the House of Commons Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families earlier this week  deemed the Social Work training in the UK to be unfit for purpose.

Although I haven’t had  much direct contact with training establishments, I am hardly surprised by this news. Apparently the degrees have became hard to fail.

Word of mouth tells me that universities are reluctant to fail students. Personally, I know of one practice teacher who wanted to fail her student whom she felt was not able to meet the standards required and she was put under enormous pressure by the university to keep giving him more chances and extending the placement in order to pass him until she did – with reservations. It is hardly indicative of a system that needs to establish and promote the best applications and an element of intellectual rigour to the profession.

Of course selection processes should be open and look at more than academic requirements but that does not mean that academic requirements should be forgotten and pitched towards the lowest common denominator.

One of the points of concern were the entry requirements for the degree course

In 2006-07, almost half the students admitted to courses had fewer than 240 Ucas points (three grade Cs or equivalent at A-level), compared to fewer than a quarter of entrants to comparable teaching or nursing degrees. The Joint Universities Council has reported complaints from some employers about standards of literacy among social work graduates.

A teacher writing on a blackboard.
Image via Wikipedia

Complaints about literary levels of graduates? That just should not be happening BUT it is the responsibility, surely, of the universities, not to actually pass people who are not able to write effectively.

Social Work is not an easy job. It is tough. It requires a method of thinking. It requires more than ‘gut feeling’. It does require a level of reasoning, processing and on a blunter level literacy that could be demonstrated on a degree course.

There are more ways than A level results to measure the quality of an applicant, of course. There has to be an equality of opportunity but the universities have to take more responsibility for who they admit and who they send out into the world as ‘qualified social workers’ for as long as the university degree remains the sole requirement for registration.

I don’t understand why those conducting child protection investigations don’t have to undertake postgraduate training equivalent to the ASW/AMHP training on the mental health side of things. It is a course which is postgraduate standard of a substantial length and almost invariably attracts a higher salary on completion.

Perhaps I’m a bit grouchy as my brain is still in ‘recovery’ mode but I am a little tired of being hammered by generalised whining about social workers just not being good enough.

I don’t have a lot of time for the ‘too nice’ approach of the universities criticised by the Commons Select Committee because I think they hold a lot of responsibility for accepting way too many students onto their courses.  It is not fair on those accepted on the course at the very least.

With shoddy and often ‘self-directed’ teaching (which, by the way, while understanding that students should not be spoon-fed, I don’t believe they should not be taught) and placements which are mashed together and often not fit for purpose how they can say they are delivering, I can’t quite understand.

That’s one of the reasons I think a year of substantially supervised and continued learning in practice is necessary after graduation.

One thought on “Too easy?

  1. Here in the US, we are fighting issues with states Department of Family Services (or whatever they call it in each state) allowing unlicensed social workers and even workers who do not have social work degrees to work in child protection (or adult protection). They are “grandfathered” in often times and do not have the skills and training needed for the job.

    We’ve also had recent changes to the Medicare program that allows nursing homes to have just one licensed social worker on staff overseeing the department — the concept being that they are responsible for the services their non-licensed employees perform. But it just clears the way for a hiring inexperienced and unqualified people and further damages the impact of social work education.

Comments are closed.