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DfE seeks contractor to deliver accreditation of social workers

The accreditation of social workers is set to cost £3.5m, it has emerged.

The Department for Education has put out a contract for the accreditation of social workers and estimated that the value of the contract is £3.5m.

The contractor will be required to deliver the accreditation and assessment system for children and family social workers in England.

“They [the contractor] will need to create a clear framework and delivery structure to ensure assessment rollout for approximately 1,200-2,300 social workers between Jan 2018 - Jan 2020,” said the document.

The work will include the delivery of:

  • Assessment centres within the local areas,
  • Recruitment and training of assessors and observers,
  • Recruitment and training of actors for simulated observation,
  • Preparing and expanding a pre-existing digital platform to be ready for roll out,
  • Design and implement a system for result feedback to employers and individuals including a database for securely storing results,
  • Design and implementation of a system for dealing with retakes, concerns, queries and appeals, and
  • Work alongside an independent researcher partner and the DfE to understand and action change requirements where required over the contract period.

The focus of the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) is to increase emphasis on practice and workforce development within local authorities, with assessment and accreditation as a benchmark of that practice.

The DfE developed a rigorous system based on the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS) to test social workers in order to gain accreditation as frontline child and family practitioners and practice supervisors. This assessment process was tested with 954 social workers between December 2015 and February 2016 through the ‘Proof of Concept Phase.’

NAAS will include four stages of assessment:

  • Stage 1: direct practice observation by the employer - in the workplace over a period of time leading to the practice endorsement;
  • Stage 2: an assessment of knowledge;
  • Stage 3: an observed interactive practice simulation in a controlled environment with independent examiners;
  • Stage 4: a written assessment linked to the simulated observation but assessed separately to the observation sessions.

Following consultation, the DfE has decided to operate ‘an Alpha and Beta-style approach’ before progressing with a full national rollout. This phased approach will be supported by in-depth analysis and evaluation.

“The assessments that take place in Alpha and Beta will need to be indisputable, high quality assessments, and while we wish to look at some delivery questions in this phase it is not a pilot or a trial run. The Delivery Partner will be delivering the beginning of what will become national roll out,” said the document.

The DfE said it intends to start with a small-scale ‘Alpha’ phase with around six local authorities, already chosen from volunteer local authorities, in order to answer key delivery and workforce impact questions. Within this phase, around 550 social workers will be assessed and subject to the successful completion of the Alpha phase, a subsequent ‘Beta’ phase will follow. This will involve approximately 12 -15 local authorities and a minimum of 900 social workers will be assessed.

“The contract will be complex and will need to include a combination of technical and logistical expertise as well as experts with a social work background. It will be an iterative process and will require strong partnership links between the DfE, the local authorities, a Research Partner and the Delivery Partner. Therefore we are would expect any delivery partner to work within an Agile context for delivery. The successful delivery of Alpha/Beta will require the completion of a range of milestones,” said the contract.

The award for this contract is up to £3.5 million although the total award amount will be reliant on final throughput of expected social worker numbers.

The delivery contract is expected to begin in January 2018 and run until January 2020.

The closing date for contractors interested in the tender is 13 October 2017.

Further details are available here.

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