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Statement on the Councils decision on the interim arrangements for assuring social work students fitness to practise

Date of publication: 19/06/2012
Category: Position statement
Audience: Journalists and media
At its meeting on 19 June 2012, the HPC Council agreed to introduce a new suitability scheme to deal with concerns about social work students in England. This is because the Council recognises that the social work community, including education providers and employers, may face additional challenges during the transition to the new system of quality assurance by the HCPC.

This follows our decision that social work students in England should not be registered by the HCPC. The Council believes that the most effective means of assuring the fitness to practise of social work students in England is through the standards of education and training and the approval of education and training programmes. The HCPC standards will ensure that education providers have processes in place to deal effectively with concerns about the conduct of students.

The standards will also ensure that suitable arrangements are in place to manage and monitor students’ learning on practice placements and that students’ become aware of and understand their obligations under the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance and ethics.

This transitional scheme will be in place whilst the HCPC scrutinises social work programmes in England against its standards of education and training. Key features include:

• In exceptional cases, education providers can seek the opinion of HCPC on whether an applicant is of suitable character to be admitted to a programme.

• HCPC can investigate where it considers an education provider has failed to deal with a credible complaint about a social work student.

• HCPC can review an education provider’s decision to prevent a social work student from being admitted to or participating in a social work programme.

• Finally, the scheme means HCPC will maintain a record of students who are prevented from participating in a social work programme in England.

Marc Seale, Chief Executive and Registrar of the HPC said:

“The transitional scheme will be an effective and proportionate way of managing the perceived risks in this area and provide time for education providers to adjust to the HCPC’s rigorous standards of education and training.”

Anna van der Gaag, Chair of the HPC said:

“In developing this scheme, we have taken account of the concerns of the social work community. Our core purpose is public protection, we too want to see improvements in the quality of practice placements and in the mechanisms to ensure that students have a clear understanding of what is required of them as students and as future professionals. We are confident that the standards of education and training will deliver this.”


Notes to editors:

1. The full details of the scheme are set out in the council papers

2. HPC will continue to communicate the details of the scheme to the social work community over the coming months.

3. From 1 August 2012, HPC will regulate social workers in England. At that time, it will be renamed the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to reflect its new remit and the diverse range of professions on its Register.

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