Christina Addenbrooke is a social worker for Essex County Council. A former teacher, she joined the profession in 2017 having completed a two-year training programme.
She’s recently completed the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) alongside her Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE). Here she shares the benefits of combining the two as part of her ongoing learning and development.
From teacher to social worker
After teaching for 5 years, working in an inner-city school in London, I wanted to support the more vulnerable children I often saw slip through the system.
I started the Frontline training programme in 2017, which included a placement with Essex County Council where I got hands-on experience working with children and families. My ASYE training followed shortly after, with me returning to Essex County Council in September 2018.
Essex runs a structured ASYE training programme embedding theory in practice, covering areas such as trauma-based practice, systemic theories and strengths-based approaches. I was given a lower caseload during this year so I could focus on my development in preparation for becoming a fully accredited practitioner.
Making the most of my ASYE training
When starting ASYE, the general advice is to take up the NAAS after completion.
I was offered an information session about what the NAAS assessment involves, and the training lead was proactive in answering all my questions.
My NAAS Lead advised me to take the assessment when I felt ready. Given my recent experience of the Frontline assessment and the fact I was already working within a learning and development setting, I already felt in a strong position to prepare for NAAS.
Part of my ASYE training covered social work law, so NAAS became a natural extension to this and part of my day to day training. It gave me insight into my own practice and reassured me that I’d made the right career move.
I made use of the online resources on GOV.UK to familiarise myself with the process and working alongside accredited social workers also provided great insight. Whist they couldn’t discuss assessment specifics, their assessment centre insights were really reassuring.
Within 6 months of starting ASYE, I felt ready to take the assessment. The flexibility of the booking process meant I was able to book a centre close to where I live and choose a convenient date and time.
A good indicator of quality of practice
As a social worker, you’re predominantly working by yourself. It’s difficult to gauge if what you’re doing is going to be effective. A family can be so complicated.
The accreditation helps to join your theory from university and ASYE training with your year in employment. It provides reassurance that you’re practicing well.
Now I’ve completed the NAAS as part of my ASYE year, theoretically, I might not have to do it again. But how do I know that in 20 years that I’ll still be practicing effectively? This is where I think the NAAS is beneficial.
Fundamentally, social workers need the opportunity to reflect on and develop practice in tandem with changing political and social orientations. The NAAS aims to outline the level of practice wanted and needed but I think the impact it has is dependent on employers’ views and interpretations.
The Department for Education has launched a new route for social workers that outlines a career pathway from ASYE to NAAS accreditation. For further information about the ASYE pathway to NAAS, visit Skills for Care.