Practice leadership

Helping you to support your social workers

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Robust leadership lies at the heart of effective social work practice. This section considers key aspects of the leadership and management roles in supporting social workers to work effectively with people in need care and support.

It summarises the range of professional standards which help to maintain the integrity of the social work role.

Effective strategic leadership

Initially established within Child Protection services as an outcome of the Munro Report, the principal social worker (PSW) role has been widely introduced within adult services and is embedded within the Professional Capability Framework (PCF). It provides a key connection between practice and strategy within statutory organisations, providing two way feedback between social workers and senior management.

The PSW is ideally placed to provide strategic leadership and embed the Standards for Employers of Social workers. These are central to achieving high standards of practice amongst social workers and high quality outcomes for people who need care and support.  

Our 360 development tool for social work managers includes the strategic level of the PCF.

Effective frontline management

Ensuring that social workers have regular and appropriate supervision is a central to the frontline manager’s role and is reflected in standard 5 of the Standards for Employers of Social Workers.

The HCPC expect social workers to engage in critical reflection within their practice. This  means frontline managers need to demonstrate supervision skills which go beyond organisational requirements, workload and monitoring attendance.

The implications for front line managers have been highlighted in the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) and new approaches to continuing professional development for staff at all levels in an organisation.

Front line managers frequently adopt assessor roles for social work students on qualifying programmes, NQSWs going through the ASYE, and trainee AMPHs, – depending on their service setting. Guidance for social work practice development has been developed to support these roles.

The social work leadership toolkit provides tools and resources to further support social work managers.

Effective workload management

The Standards for Employers of Social Workers states that you should ensure your social workers have safe and manageable workloads. This is based on guidance produced by the Social Work Reform Board which focuses on how to establish a system, exemplars of time and points and ‘pieces of work’ based models.

Professional standards

The social worker title is legally protected and can only be used by those who are included on the HCPC register and meet their standards for training, professional skills, behaviour and health. 

The PCF is the overarching professional standards and expectations for social workers at different points of their career.

The Knowledge and Skills statement for social work in adult services complements the PCF level descriptor and sets out what a social worker working with adults should know and be able to do by the end of their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE).

Employers should provide a learning environment which encourages development, as specified in the Standards for Employers of Social Workers.

The PCF provides employers with robust, transparent, and comprehensive processes for recruitment, performance management and CPD frameworks.

We have developed the core principles for CPD and supporting case studies

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