Report recommends NAAS for national rollout despite criticisms
The new national accreditation for child and family social workers in England helped validate current practice levels but struggled to attract significant engagement or aid professional development, says new report.
The Department for Education is set to confirm a national rollout of the new National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) for child and family social workers in England following the recommendation of a new report into its pilot phases.
The report, conducted by the research group Kantar, concluded that the trial phases of the new accreditation system, which have been running since 2018, had shown enough to warrant a national rollout that could “result in benefits for child and family social care”.
NAAS, announced back in 2015, is an accreditation system for child and family practitioners and practice supervisors that the Government says is designed to standardise the levels of practice, knowledge, and skills across post-qualified social workers.
You can read more about the NAAS and how it works here
The report revealed that the NAAS had struggled to attract significant interest and engagement within its first two trial phases, with concerns over additional workload as well as apprehension over the aims, purposes and longevity of the new accreditation. Taking the accreditation was voluntary for social workers during the trial phases.
Despite the low turnout, there were more positive reactions towards the assessment itself, as well as for the training and preparation that practitioners received. Participants suggested that the new accreditation had bolstered their beliefs in their own abilities and “provided validation of their current practice”.
The report did stress, however, the importance of implementing certain structural changes to the NAAS system based on the feedback received from participants.
There was strong criticism of the post-assessment support and training for professionals who had passed. Practitioners who participated commented that “there was very little support and reflection from their employers post-assessment” and that it was often “back to business as usual” following the completion of the NAAS.
A particular point of criticism was the letter that participants received upon completion of the assessment failed to “give enough detailed information to support further learning and development” despite “consistent feedback from assessed staff”.
The report acknowledged these issues, suggesting that “to ensure that the aims of NAAS are met it will be important to ensure that continuous learning is implemented and that opportunities for practice reflection and observation do not stop once a candidate receives a “met” grade in the assessment.”
The report cited the departmental savings accrued from the implementation of the NAAS over current assessment opportunities, the move to embed the child and family social work Post-Qualifying Standards (PQS), formerly known as the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS) into local systems, and the opportunity for practitioners to access and improve their skills as the basis for its recommendation.