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Qualifying level standards

Standards related to research mindedness and research literacy in the social work degree in England.

The National Occupational Standards and the QAA Benchmark Statement for Social Work together set out the requirements for achievement of the degree.

  • National Occupational Standards: developed by the Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services (TOPSS) with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority provide a baseline for identifying standards of practice that should be reached by the newly qualified social worker. Students must demonstrate full competence across the full range of standards before being awarded the degree.
  • The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Benchmark Statement sets out the requirements for achievement of the academic award at degree level.

Extracts from the key documents associated with standards in the new social work degree in England are provided below the next table which has links to the full documents online for each country.

Agency Document
UK
QAA Subject Benchmarking Statement for Social Work
England
Skills for Care England National Occupational Standards for Social Work
Department of Health Department of Health New Award Requirments (pdf file)
Scotland
Scottish Social Services Council Care National Occupational Standards
Wales
Care Council for Wales National Occupational Standards
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Social Care Council Careers & Training - Occupational Standards

 

1. QAA Subject Benchmarking Statement for Social Work

2 Defining principles

  • 2.3.4 Learning in practice can include activities such as observation, analysis and research as well as intervention within social work and related organisations. Practice learning on honours degrees covered by this statement, however, will normally include not only observation and research, but will involve active engagement with service users and others in practice settings outside the university. Such engagement is a compulsory component of honours degrees integrated with professional awards in social work

2.5 The expectation that social workers will be able to act effectively in such complex circumstances requires that honours degree programmes in social work should be designed to help students learn to become accountable, reflective and self-critical. This involves learning to:

  • acquire and apply the habits of critical reflection, self-evaluation and consultation, and make appropriate use of research in the evaluation of practice outcomes.

3 Knowledge, understanding and skills

3.1.4 Social work theory

  • Research-based concepts and critical explanations from social work theory and other disciplines that contribute to the knowledge base of social work, including their
    distinctive epistemological status and application to practice.
  • Knowledge and critical appraisal of relevant social research and evaluation methodologies.

3.1.5 The nature of social work practice

  • The place of theoretical perspectives and evidence from international research in assessment and decision-making processes in social work practice.
  • The integration of theoretical perspectives and evidence from international research into the design and implementation of effective social work intervention with a wide range of service users, carers and others.

3.2 Subject skills and other skills

As an applied subject at honours degree level, social work necessarily involves the development of skills that may be of value in many situations (e.g. analytical thinking, building relationships, working as a member of an organisation, intervention, evaluation and reflection). Some of these skills are specific to social work but many are also widely transferable. What helps to define the specific nature of these skills in a social work context are:

  • the specific purpose of skill development (e.g. the acquisition of research skills in order to build a repertoire of research-based practice)

3.2.2.3 Analysis and synthesis
Honours graduates in social work should be able to analyse and synthesise information gathered for problem solving purposes, i.e. to:

  • assess human situations, taking into account a variety of factors (including the views of participants, theoretical concepts, research evidence, legislation and organisational policies and procedures);
  • assess the merits of contrasting theories, explanations, research, policies and procedures;

5 Standards

Standards associated with three distinct levels of attainment are identified below. Given the essentially applied nature of social work, standards are specified in relation to both academic and practice capabilities. At each level, the requirements relate to subject specific knowledge, understanding and skills (including key skills inherent in the concept of 'graduateness'). Students will be expected to meet each of these requirements. Where there is an integration of honours degree and professional requirements, meeting these
standards should enable students broadly to meet the requirements of the regulatory bodies.

5.1 Modal level
This level represents that of the typical student graduating with an honours degree in social work. At modal level, students will be able to demonstrate the following:

5.1.1 Knowledge and understanding

  • ability to use research and enquiry techniques with reflective awareness to collect, analyse and interpret relevant information

5.2 Threshold level
All students graduating with an honours degree in social work will have achieved this minimum standard. At threshold level, students will be able to demonstrate the following:

5.2.1 Knowledge and understanding

  • ability to use research and enquiry techniques to collect, analyse and interpret relevant information

5.3 Exemplary level
This level of excellence will normally be achieved only by the top range of students graduating with an honours degree in social work. At exemplary level, students will be able to demonstrate:

5.3.1 Knowledge and understanding

  • ability to use research and enquiry skills confidently and consistently to collect, analyse and interpret relevant information; and
  • well-developed capacity for the consistent and critical evaluation of knowledge and evidence from a range of sources.

Skills for Care National Occupational Standards for Social Work:

Unit 1 Indicative Knowledge Base

In your specific area of practice you must understand, critically analyse, evaluate and apply the following knowledge:

1. The legal, social, economic and ecological context of social work practice

e. Policies on diversity, discrimination and promoting independence/autonomy of adults, children, families, groups and communities, and research on their effectiveness

Unit 18 Research, analyse, evaluate, and use current knowledge of best social work practice
Elements:

18.2 Use professional and organisational supervision and support to research, critically analyse, and review knowledge-based practice

18.3 Implement knowledge based social work models and methods to develop and improve your own practice
Unit Commentary

  • This unit is about researching, evaluating and using current knowledge of best social work practice.
  • You should use information and communications technology and other electronic sources to search for, identify, and review relevant research and to update your knowledge of legal requirements and duties, regulation, guidance and frameworks.
  • You should not rely wholly on your own review and analysis but also use professional and organisational supervision to support you in your research and critical analysis.
    Key Words and Concepts used specifically within the unit:
    18.2 Research - refers to accessing and reviewing the research findings of others rather than carrying out fundamental research of your own
    18.3 Evidence and knowledge based practice - Practice derives its knowledge from theory and research in many different disciplines, from policies laid down in legislation and government guidance, and from accumulated practice experience and wisdom, which has, in some cases, been empirically tested. Practice is expected to be evidence based which means that knowledge is used critically from research and practice about the needs of those requiring social work services, and the outcomes of services and interventions to inform future practice. The combination of practice grounded in knowledge and evidence based, together with the use of finely balanced professional judgment, is the foundation of effective social work practice

Scope

  • To be competent in this unit you need to demonstrate the ability to:
    Research, evaluate and use current knowledge of best social work practice, including that which has lead to practice guidance and that where the findings are conflicting or unclear
  • Transfer and apply knowledge, skills and values to new and unfamiliar contexts

Links with other units:
This unit links directly with all other units

Unit 18 Indicative Knowledge Base
In your specific area of practice you must understand, critically analyse, evaluate and apply the following knowledge:

1. The legal, social, economic and ecological context of social work practice
e. Policies on diversity, discrimination and promoting independence/autonomy of adults, children, families, groups and communities, and research on their effectiveness

j. How to access and use information and communications technology (ICT) and other electronic systems that may help in accessing and utilising research and knowledge of best practice


Unit 18 Research, analyse, evaluate and use current knowledge of best social work practice
To achieve this standard you must:

18.2 Use professional and organisational supervision and support to research, critically analyse and review knowledge based practice

18.3 Implement knowledge based social work models and methods to develop and improve your own practice
b. Continually evaluate and learn from:

  • current and emerging research
  • the expertise and experience of relevant others

DOH New Award Requirements

Key Role 6: Demonstrate professional competence in social work practice

Research, analyse, evaluate, and use current knowledge of best social work practice

     
       
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