Isabelle Trowler is Chief Social Worker for Children and Families. An advocate for accreditation, she recognises the need for ongoing reflection and development to maintain best practice.
Here she discusses the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) pathway to National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) launch, and how it brings a step-change in the learning offer to social workers.
The need for ongoing reflection
NAAS was launched to enable child and family social workers to continue to develop the skills and knowledge to improve outcomes for children and families. As a strong believer in leading from the front. I joined some of the first cohorts of candidates taking NAAS in the Hackney assessment centre back in Summer 2019, and can therefore personally appreciate the commitment involved. As well as the agonising wait for the results!
It's important that we all keep up to date with how things change. Whilst I’m very confident in my ability, it’s been a while since I was a frontline, case-holding social worker. I recognise the need for ongoing reflection and commitment to ensure my own knowledge and skills align with the Post-Qualifying Standards (PQS).
That’s why I’m so pleased to share that we have launched a newly funded pathway programme that connects ASYE with the NAAS, nationwide. This provides social workers with a new opportunity to progress their careers and become an Accredited Child and Family Practitioner (ACFP).
Responding to your feedback
This pathway is a direct response to social workers’ feedback in terms of learning support and understanding how NAAS fits into a career trajectory.
We want employers to invest in their qualified social workers and to deliver a much stronger learning offer for those that have completed the ASYE and are adjusting to the realities of working as a full-time child and family social worker.
The introduction of NAAS to ASYE completers across the country provides a continuation of a social worker’s employer-led programme of support. They will work towards taking the accreditation through a learning plan that helps strengthen good practice, increases consistency in skills and knowledge as well as overall experience working in the sector.
Preparing for your NAAS journey
As the pathway is voluntary, it is for the social worker to decide, in discussion with their employer, if they want to take part. But I ask, what have you got to lose?
If you decide to volunteer and are eligible, you will benefit from a tailored training and development plan aligned to the PQS and will receive regular feedback to help you grow your capabilities and reach the level and skills required to become an Accredited Child and Family Practitioner (ACFP).
When I prepared for NAAS, I spent quite a bit of time thinking through how I approach difficult moments, in terms of:
- the language I use
- how I engage people in conversation when the context is fraught
- how to elicit important information without overwhelming someone in crisis
I thought about power dynamics too. Showing my understanding of difference and diversity in practice observations and written exercises.
GOV.UK provides advice on how to prepare for the assessment. And when you become practice endorsed, you’ll receive access to the NAAS online platform. Both these resources gave me insight into how everything would run on the day as well as practice questions to help assess my knowledge.
First step: check eligibility
We’re currently piloting this pathway programme, so places are limited. Social workers eligible to apply must be from ASYE cohorts 6 or 7 and not be employed by a local authority already funded in groups 1 to 4 of NAAS.
For social workers interested to know more, the first step should be to speak with your ASYE lead or line manager to understand eligibility, and what the pathway entails.