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Standard 1 - Strong and clear social work framework

This standard is about promoting a clear statement about the principles that constitute good social work practice, and how those principles function across the full range of social work settings.

Someone giving a helping hand to another

It outlines the ways in which each organisation can achieve and maintain the theories, skills, research and evidence that underpin it at strategic and operational levels.

Employers should have in place a strong and clear social work accountability and assurance framework that promotes reflection and learning from experience, evidence and research of outcome-focused social work practice and from the voices of children, adults and families.

Social work is a difficult and challenging activity that involves working with uncertainty and complexity. Social workers need a supportive environment in which to work where learning and reflection upon practice is fundamental.

Strategic accountability

All employers should:

  1. develop, maintain and regularly review a statement setting out the purpose, vision, values and outcomes sought for social work in the organisation
  2. establish and communicate a clear model for social work practice based on evidence of what works, setting out how the organisation will work
  3. ensure the model considers issues such as balancing strengths, needs and uncertainty and how social workers are supported to exercise professional judgement and creativity
  4. ensure that this approach is developed and regularly reviewed with its workforce and with those who use its service
  5. ensure the approach is shared with, discussed and understood by partner organisations and by people who use the services
  6. ensure that leaders and senior managers are held to account for ensuring that the right conditions exist in the organisation to support and allow the delivery of excellent social work in line with the agreed approach.

Operational accountability

All employers should:

  1. ensure that the culture of the organisation promotes learning and accountability through high support and high challenge that encourages a safe place for reflection and continual improvement
  2. put in place a system to gather, collate, analyse and act upon the views of children, families and adults who experience social work intervention so that learning and feedback about impact and outcomes informs continuous development, refinement and improvement of practice and services
  3. ensure that mechanisms are in place to listen to and respond to the views of practitioners on a regular basis, including undertaking an annual health check to ensure the organisation remains a place where the right environment and conditions exist to support best social work practice
  4. ensure that there is a principal social worker or similar senior leader who promotes and develops best practice while ensuring that employer standards are maintained and enhanced and can report concerns or barriers to good social work directly to senior leaders
  5. ensure a strong focus on social work recruitment, retention and workforce planning and development so that the organisations seek the necessary social work skills, capacity and expertise to meet the needs of those it serves
  6. ensure that systems are in place so that regular performance data (qualitative and quantitative), learning from case audit, peer review and inspection, as well as the voices of those using the service and practitioners, are considered and acted upon by senior leaders
  7. ensure that there are effective opportunities for social workers to learn and develop including bespoke ASYE support and a career progression scheme based on evidenced good practice
  8. promote understanding about the unique and complex role of social work to partners, politicians, the public and practitioners in all public services such as schools, NHS and Police
  9. support social workers to access courses and development opportunities, including time to undertake CPD, and support them to engage with professional bodies and trade unions
  10. provide planned support to help social workers return to work after a period of long absence.

Useful resources

KSS Children

KSS Adults

Social Work England