Journal Article

Assessing Student Social Workers' Professional Suitability: Comparing University Procedures in England

Caroline Currer

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 8, pages 1481-1498
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn056
Assessing Student Social Workers' Professional Suitability: Comparing University Procedures in England

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Universities providing social work education and training must ensure that those who qualify as social workers are ‘suitable’ or ‘fit for practice’—a gate-keeping role that has been discussed in a number of different national settings. In England, the introduction of registration for both qualified and student social workers has brought assessment of standards of professional conduct to the fore. For qualified workers, there is a single national ‘conduct procedure’ involving a public panel hearing. In relation to student social workers, procedures are particular to each university, albeit subject to scrutiny by the professional body, which has, to date, offered little guidance. This paper reports on a study comparing procedures in different universities. These were found to vary in relation to a number of factors, such as whether professional suitability is an academic or disciplinary matter; the name of the procedure and rationale; its focus and scope; the personnel involved and possible outcomes. The paper concludes that such variation is in the interests of neither students nor the profession, and that the professional body might helpfully offer more guidance to universities, as well as being specific about their own role in relation to aspects of registration.

Keywords: Professional regulation; social work education; suitability; misconduct; termination of training

Journal Article.  6688 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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