15% of Social Work degree students drop out in 2009

Posted on July 26th, 2010

Nearly one in seven Social Work degree students failed to complete their course in 2008-9,
claims a recent General Social Care Council (GSCC) report. The GSCC asked universities
and colleges for the number of students enrolled on to Social Work degree courses. They
also asked for the numbers that did not pass or progress at the end of the academic year.

Community Care analysed the reports, and found that of the 14,550 students enrolled,
2,170 failed to progress on finishing the 2008-9 academic year. It has been suggested that
this figure was not entirely due to academic reasons, with a proportion of the blame being
passed onto other factors such as delayed placements.

Kingston University had the highest non-completion rate of all institutions offering degrees in
Social Work. Edge Hill University was the only institution to report a 100% completion rate,
which may be due to the small size of the course with only 25 students in 2008-9.

Other suggested factors are illness and maternity leave. Professor of Social Work Jill
Manthorpe, who is also the director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s
College said “Our work has shown that the non-completion rate is a complex interaction
between institutional and student factors.”


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Another Review of Social Work

Posted on July 11th, 2010

We currently wait with bated breath as Professor Eileen Munroe undertakes another review of Social Work in an attempt to inform the Government about the role of Social Workers in order for them to understand our profession. Let us all hope that the outcomes are more effective than some of the recommendations of Lord Lamming which included the implementation of the Integrated Children’s System (ICS).  Without doubt ICS has offered a useful tool for managers to monitor Social Work tasks, ensure targets are met and deadlines kept even if sometimes it means entering an open and closed date on a blank form in order to meet required timescales.

The focus is currently on Social Workers completing tick box assessments on time, leading to quantity of work turn-over that does not safeguard children from harm. The quality of assessments has dipped as Social Workers are forced to use poorly designed forms which encourage repetition of information rather than clear analysis of the needs of families in order to provide them with appropriate Social Work intervention through correct service delivery. 

Most Social Workers understand, without the need for a review that ICS and cumbersome forms only serve to increase the pressure and stress of Social Workers as opposed to enhancing partnership work with families. The consequence for Social Work is a negative identity.

If the Social Work profession does need another review then lets all shout, ‘Come on Eileen…’, let’s free Social Work from this bureaucratic management that seeks to control and command with Social Workers who now as a matter of course repeat the phrase, ‘I will have to to ask my manager’ when asked to make a decision.  Hopefully Professor Munroe’s review will promote Social Work as a profession worthy of respect by Government officials and society in general; this will be a tough task given the Government cut backs, negative press coverage and existing low morale amongst Social Workers.

It will be interesting to see how Professor Munroe’s review addresses the stance taken by Government in supporting the decision to cap Independent Social Worker rates at £30 an hour outside London and £33 an hour in London.  A decision made by Government officials ill informed of the role of Independent Social Workers or the savings made by capping rates. 

Would it be cynical to suggest that a review by Professor Munroe could be a fruitless exercise if budgets and targets are the Government’s bottom line with quality Social Work continuing to play second fiddle to performance indicators and star ratings?

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