The cycle of quality assurance and continuous improvement

Man an woman holding a child

Assuring quality in ASYE programmes 

Support for newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) has been in place for some 10 years with the ASYE being implemented in 2012 as an outcome of the Social Work Reform Board. Since November 2014 the ASYE in child and family services has been assessed against the Knowledge and Skills Statement. However, whilst the majority of employers have implemented the ASYE there has been uncertainty about the consistency of approach. In July 2016 the Education Select Committee produced a report about social work in child and family services which include a recommendation for “a quality assurance system to ensure that ASYE is delivered at a consistently high level across the country”.

In May 2018 the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned Skills for Care to establish a new national approach to quality assurance for the child and family ASYE which would be focussed on enabling employers to provide a more consistent level of support to NQSWs thereby meeting the DfE’s objectives and facilitating consistent assessment against the Knowledge and Skills Statement. 

The national cycle of quality assurance and continuous improvement infographic is based around a partnership between the National Framework team (Skills for Care), child and family employers and NQSWs, and is underpinned by a shared commitment to ensuring that local ASYE programmes deliver the best possible learning experience for NQSWs. 

The evaluation criteria has been developed to reflect good practice for ASYE programmes and all elements of the quality assurance (QA) and continuous improvement (CI) cycle are based on these. The evaluation criteria encompass key themes, all of which are important to the success of the ASYE - The Child and Family ASYE programme: 

  1. is delivered in accordance with the ASYE Framework and Employer Standards
  2. ensures that the Knowledge and Skills Statement and the Professional Capabilities Framework underpin NQSW professional practice
  3. the NQSWs’ experience of undertaking the ASYE is central to the quality assurance and continuous improvement process
  4. the ASYE programme is integrated within the wider organisational system.

Child and family employers are responsible for ensuring the quality of their ASYE programmes. This involves:

  • Developing and maintaining a quality assurance process appropriate to organisational needs and circumstances. 
  • Feeding into the national quality assurance framework and cycle of continuous improvement.
  • Sharing learning and innovative practice.

Skills for Care is responsible for implementing and maintaining a framework of support for child and family employers. 

Skills for Care assures the quality of local ASYE programme delivery through:

  • The development of evaluation criteria and supporting materials
  • An organisational 360 degree evaluation tool
  • In-depth quality assurance review visits
  • Responses to employers where issues are identified


Skills for Care supports employers to develop and implement best practice in their ASYE programmes through:

In the national quality assurance (QA) and continuous improvement (CI) framework, NQSWs have a key role in influencing quality.

The NQSW Community of Practice is a mechanism for the NQSW body to feedback on their experience and be invested in future developments.

Local ASYE programmes are encouraged to share good practice via the NQSW Community of Practice. 

This case study provides some ideas and direction for setting up a process for supporting NQSWs through action learning.

It considers the organisational and team challenges in the approach. There was a limited evaluation of the project which reports favourably on the benefits.

Employers have told us that sharing learning and innovative practice between employers is very beneficial.

Employers are encouraged to present examples of things that have worked well in their organisation to the NQSW community of practice and the employer champions group. These groups will then make a decision about how to share them with the sector. 

We’re pleased to publish our first annual report for the ASYE for child and family services. This report seeks to present the overall state of play with regards to the delivery of the ASYE programme for children and families across the country in 2018-19. The report includes our key messages from the first year implementing the Cycle of Quality Assurance and Improvement. The key messages have been shared with the national NQSW community of practice and ASYE champions (employers) and groups.