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The standards of proficiency for social workers in England and the professional capabilities framework

Date of publication: 25/06/2012
Category: Position statement
Audience: Journalists and media
This is a joint statement issued by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and The College of Social Work.

In August 2012, the regulation of social workers in England will transfer from the General Social Care Council (GSCC) to the Health Professions Council (HCPC).

As part of its provisions for the transfer, the HCPC is required by its legislation to develop standards of proficiency for social workers in England. At the same time, the Social Work Reform Board and The College of Social Work have been developing the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). The College of Social Work has now taken responsibility for developing and managing the PCF.

As both pieces of work are being developed at the same time, the HCPC and The College are keen to set out how the standards of proficiency and the PCF work in conjunction.

• The HCPC’s standards of proficiency are the threshold standards necessary for safe and effective practice within a profession. They set out what a social worker in England must know, understand and be able to do following the completion of their social work degree.
• Alongside the standards of proficiency, the HCPC also sets separate standards for conduct, performance and ethics and for continuing professional development.
• Social workers in England must meet the HCPC’s standards to stay on the Register. The HCPC uses these standards to decide whether a social worker is fit to practise.
• By contrast, the PCF is designed to support social workers throughout each stage of their career, beyond the threshold standards set by the HCPC.
• The PCF acts as an overarching framework by setting out key capabilities expected of a social worker as they develop in their career. These include professionalism, values and ethics, knowledge, intervention and skills and professional leadership.

The HCPC and The College have mapped the standards against the PCF expectations for social work students at the end of their last placement. Whilst there are some differences in the way the standards and PCF are expressed, the overall expectations are the same. There is an example of the mapping below. The language is slightly different, but the expectation is the same.

3.3 PCF
Recognise and manage the impact on people of the power invested in your role

2.8 SoPS
recognise the power dynamics in relationships with service users and carers and be able to manage those dynamics appropriately

Therefore, those working with the two structures can be confident that they are consistent. The mapping is available on the HCPC’s website along with the standards of proficiency for social workers in England here.

The HCPC will continue to work with The College to ensure consistency and understanding about the standards of proficiency and the PCF wherever possible and to support developments in social work practice.
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