This page is co-published by Skills for Care and the Department for Education
ASYE Support and Assessment
Employers provide support to newly qualified social workers through supervision, workload management, a professional development plan, and time for development, as outlined in the Introduction to AYSE, and also in ASYE Briefing 1 - Focus on... Supported. The ASYE learning agreement will help employers of all newly qualified and registered social workers set out and agree:
- the support which will be provided to the NQSW
- how the assessment process will be conducted.
The support and assessment should be provided and undertaken by and through the employer with NQSWs in their first year of professional practice. Two documents are downloadable here to helpcreate learning agreements between employers and NQSWs:
- a blank template of the learning agreement
- a set of information and notes on ASYE learning agreement.
The introduction of the assessed and supported year in employment includes a move to 'holistic assessment' of capabilities. This is explained in The College of Social Work's key statements on holistic assessment. In addition the fictional fictional case studies provide an illustrative guide to holistic assessment and on this page we give the context and rationale for the changed approach to assessment and information on how to ensure robust judgements. You can click to jump down to the following headings:
- The professional capabilities framework (PCF) and holistic assessment
- Who is the assessor
- Definition of holistic assessment of ASYE
The PCF is intended as a professional development framework, and as such can be used as a diagnostic tool to identify areas for development, and to support that development during the ASYE year, rather than a list of required 'competences' against which evidence needs to be provided.
The assessment of an NQSW's assessed and supported year is based in their practice and is undertaken and owned by their employer. The expectation is that the knowledge and skills gained through qualifying education will be consolidated in the first year of practice, and that specialist knowledge and skills will be developed in relation to the employment setting and service user group. The standards for the assessment are contained in the professional capabilities framework (PCF). PCF describes the standard for all social workers, from pre-admission to qualifying education through to Principal Social Worker. The PCF is therefore relevant not only for the NQSW but also for all their social worker colleagues who will have responsibility for them as an NQSW.
The use of the PCF is pivotal to ensuring the achievement of professional expertise, judgement and confidence which are central to the reforms outlined by the Social Work Task Force and to the recommendations for improvement in professional practice outlined by Professor Munro and the 'Caring for our future: reforming care and support' white paper published in July 2012.
The holistic assessment of capability signals a shift away from a competence-based approach to assessment and demands a new focus on the way that assessment is undertaken. "Holistic assessment of learning is used where learning or performance objectives are inter-related and complex" according to The College of Social Work Definition of holistic assessment. This form of assessment is particularly suitable for social work where the development of professional judgement and practice requires the interplay of all the capabilities because only this interaction - this holistic approach - can reflect the complexity of social work practice.
By contrast, the hitherto widely-used competency-based assessment at its most extreme had a danger of becoming a 'tick box' exercise reflecting a reductionist approach. This ignored the dynamic complexity of social work and impeded analytical understanding of professional roles and responsibilities and of the process of professional development.
The only formal requirement of eligibility to be an assessor for the ASYE is that he or she should be a registered social worker. In practice, this role has commonly been undertaken by the NQSW's line manager, another more experienced social worker, or by a practice educator. The key requirement is that whoever the assessor is, they understand the standards against which the NQSW is to be judged, and are able to make accurate, valid and robust judgements. There will be situations where the responsibility for case management and reflective supervision and assessment will be split, because the line manager is not a social worker or for other operational reasons. A number of possible arrangements are shown in the fictional case studies.
You are in ASYE 3: Support and assessment. Scroll down for more on assessment, or click here to go back to its sub menu.
The following paragraphs take The College of Social Work's principles for holistic assessment for all levels of the PCF and apply them specifically to the assessment of ASYE.
Assessment is no longer a 'snapshot' of a competence demonstrated at a point in time, but is a demonstration of progressive development over the year, culminating in evidence of consistently reaching the standard required. For ASYE this will require assessors, wherever possible, to have knowledge of the candidates and their development over the year in order to judge whether that development of overall capability has been evidenced over time. This is shown in fictional case studies of Simon, Jane, Joanne and the also fictional example assessment reports of Farida Begum and Graham Knight.
The PCF provides navigation points to identify the standard that is required. At ASYE, the 'level descriptor' makes a comparison with the qualifying student level:
"By the end of the ASYE social workers should have consistently demonstrated practice in a wider range of tasks and roles, and have become more effective in their interventions, thus building their own confidence, and earning the confidence of others. They will have more experience and skills in relation to a particular setting and user group, and have demonstrated ability to work effectively on more complex situations. They will seek support in supervision appropriately, whilst starting to exercise initiative and evaluate their own practice."
Click here for the full ASYE level descriptor.
This description should not be taken on its own. Although the capability statements should not be assessed separately, taken overall they describe the expectation at ASYE in the context of the level of complexity, risk and autonomous working. Therefore to help with assessing at the right standard, assessors are advised to familiarise themselves with the level descriptors for end of last placement and for the social worker level, together with the capability statements relevant to the domains at these levels. This will help to pinpoint the requirements for ASYE, sitting as it does between the two.
In making this holistic assessment of practice the assessor needs to be satisfied that the standards have been met across all of the nine domains. This will be based on their observations of and discussions with the NQSW, as well as on feedback from colleagues, other professionals and people who use services and carers, together with their written evidence. In practice, the capabilities are so interrelated, reflecting the complexity of practice, that failure in one domain is likely to signal a failure in a number of others.
The PCF's capability statements should not be simply ticked off as individually achieved one after another. As noted above, the individual statements are of great use in pinpointing the overall requirements within each domain, but to attempt to sign off each one would be to return the exercise to the very 'tick box' problem that has been associated with competence-based assessment until now. However, the individual statements will be of great help when identifying gaps or areas for development or of concern. The expectation is that the statements will be used in reviews and in personal development planning and performance management. It is therefore anticipated that looking at the individual capability statements may help assessors with making and articulating their judgements. See the case study for Joanne and assessment report for Sally mills.
The importance of critical reflection
Central to social work practice and to the development of professional judgement and expertise is the ability of every social worker to critically reflect on their work, including making reference to sources of knowledge that have informed the intervention. Although there is a specific domain in the PCF that describes the capability for critical reflection, in practice the nine domains interact. An instance of this is that the development of critical reflection runs through professional practice right across the PCF.
The expectation is that the development of critical reflection at ASYE is supported through the reflective supervision process, but also that the NQSW builds on this and makes progress by writing up their analysis. It is desirable that evidence of progression in critical reflection will be found in the majority of the pieces of evidence that support the final assessment decision. See case study Simon and Isabella. NQSWs and supervisors/assessors will find the Principles for evidencing critical reflection of use when considering the development of this fundamental area of capability.
The use of critical reflection in the development of practice has at its core a response to feedback from the person or people being supported. Holistic assessment requires that the development of practice starts from analysis of the person's situation and reflection on all aspects of the intervention. At every stage of their work, social workers are expected to consider, obtain evidence of, and respond appropriately to, the views of the people they are supporting about the social work intervention and the professional relationship the social worker has with them. There is no single correct way by which a social worker should seek feedback, and indeed best practice would dictate that the process and tools could differ according to situation and those supported. See case study Simon and the Principles for evidencing feedback from service users as a useful resource for NQSWs and supervisors/assessors alike.
There is no prescribed list of evidence types or quantity of evidence that should be submitted for assessment. However, a number of employers have said that, based on their experience of past NQSW frameworks and their understanding of ASYE, the following are likely to be most helpful to show sufficient evidence of capability:
- Supervision records see case studies Simon and Jane.
- Direct formal observation see case study Isabella.
- Work products (e.g. case records, reports, etc) see case studies Jane
- Critical reflection, including a piece of evidence based on direct practice written towards the end of the ASYE year see case study Simon.
Service user feedback see case study Simon.
Additionally, TCSW will be asking employers as part of their quality assurance process to provide evidence that they have based their judgement on evidence that meets the following requirements:
- observations of a range of examples of practice
- in different settings and at different times
- by different observers made by those capable of making reliable assessments with reference to known and agreed criteria or standards (in this case, the PCF)
The types of evidence suggested above, taken from a range of cases, people and occasions, should provide a breadth of evidence over the period of the ASYE on which the assessor can make a robust judgement.
Therefore in the production of evidence for the ASYE, the following people have complementary responsibilities:
- the NQSW, for providing evidence of growth and development to the standard required by the ASYE across all nine domains of the PCF
- the employer, for offering opportunities for NQSW development across all nine domains of the PCF via the learning agreement and periodic review
- the assessor, for gathering a range of evidence from the NQSW and others across all nine domains of the PCF.
Holistic assessment places the responsibility on the assessor for the judgement of the NQSW's development over the nine capabilities. The assessment is based on on-going interaction with, and progressive assessment by the assessor; decisions are made taking the whole breadth of evidence into account. In using their professional judgement on sufficiency, the assessor should record progression, and/or concerns, in order that the final decision that they make is evidence-based. The information on informing judgements may be useful in thinking about how assessors can be supported to develop confidence in their judgements and decisions, especially when they are new to the process.
A series of fictional case studies has been devised to assist assessors and NQSWs to consider how the process and requirements of holistic assessment will work in practice. The case studies provide further information on how evidence can support judgements and the level that is required to demonstrate sufficiency for ASYE.