Social work is undergoing the biggest skills shake-up since the last decade,
and the latest phase in its development has just been announced.
The new Practice Learning Taskforce, launched by health minister Jacqui
Smith on 27 January, has been charged with evaluating and developing placements
for students in a cross-section of work environments from the private and
public sectors, including the police force and schools.
The taskforce is building on the requirements of the new statutory degree in
social work, which will take its first students in September and places greater
emphasis on learning on the front-line.
Replacing the former two-year diploma in social work, the new three-year
degree includes an extra 70 mandatory days of work placements before a worker
This takes the number of days learning in the workplace up to 200, and the
varied range of placements will be chosen to reflect the changing demands of
The taskforce will be headed up by Mike Leadbetter, seen as one of Britain’s
most senior social services directors. "Enhancing the number, quality and
range of practice learning opportunities benefits everyone – the social
workers, the organisations that take them on and, most importantly, the people
they serve," he said.
By Stephanie Sparrow