The framework for Social Work education in Scotland
In April 2002, I launched an Action Plan for the Social Services Workforce. This plan focused on developing the workforce we will need for the future to deliver high-quality services. The people of Scotland expect and deserve high-quality services that respond to their individual needs, are reliable, and are based on best practice. This means having a well-trained, well-supported and highly-valued workforce. Social workers are an important part of this workforce. They need to be properly trained and equipped to carry out the increasingly challenging and complicated tasks we expect of them, both now and in the future.
Social workers provide advice, support, care and protection to children and families, vulnerable adults and older people. They also contribute to community safety through the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders. It is crucial that their education and preparation is provided at a level that is suited to their heavy responsibilities. To achieve this, I announced that from 2004 there will be a new honours degree level qualification for social workers.
This new degree is part of my vision for the future.
The Standards in Social Work Education (SiSWE) set out what student social workers will need to achieve to gain the honours degree and to become professionally qualified. The SiSWE bring together key elements of two previous standards documents for social work: the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education's Benchmark Statement and the National Occupational Standards for Social Work. These are combined in an easy-to-read way to strengthen the links between academic and professional standards. In this way, the SiSWE follow similar developments in Scotland in initial teacher education, nursing, midwifery and health visiting.
In this document, I am also setting out requirements for those who provide qualifying training and education for social workers. I am convinced that these standards and requirements will ensure we have competent, confident social workers who can respond to the challenge of delivering high-quality public services.
I want to thank everyone who has been involved in helping us to develop the SiSWE and the requirements. Their contribution has made sure we continue to keep the needs and interests of the key stakeholders, including people who use services and carers, at the heart of our thinking.
I know that the standards and requirements create considerable challenges. But there is much that needs to be done to make sure we have the competent, confident social workers we need in the 21st century. I am confident that everyone will rise to the challenge and that the introduction of the new honours degree level qualification in 2004 will help us develop the future social services we want for the people of Scotland.
Cathy Jamieson, MSP
Minister for Education and Young People