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PCF still fit for purpose, but improvements needed, independent evaluation finds

An independent study of the Professional Capabilities Framework, finds that the outline remains fit for practice, but recommends seven updates.

25/06/24

PCF still fit for purpose, but improvements needed, independent evaluation finds

The Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) is still fit for purpose and should continue to be used to support social work education and practice, an independent evaluation finds.

A team of researchers surveyed hundreds of social workers and carried out in-depth interviews with key stakeholders to determine the overarching framework’s suitability for current practice. The vast majority of respondents said that the PCF is still fit for purpose which is, and should continue to be, used to support and influence social work education, development, and practice.

However, the research team – led by Prof Jermaine Ravalier of Buckinghamshire New University, working with colleagues at Bath Spa University, the University of Essex, and the University of the West of England – recommended a number of changes, including greater provision for social workers outside of their Assessed Year in Practice.

“While it is clear how the PCF is useful for those earlier in their career, for those who are more experienced and in more complex roles it is less so. Therefore, the career framework needs to be re-thought, particularly for those in the higher reaches of the profession,” the study found.

Researchers also recommended that social justice have greater prominence across the whole framework.

“Social justice is at the heart of the social work role,” the study said, adding: “While Justice and Rights are already one domain within the PCF, we recommend that social justice should clearly be reflected in every one of the domains.”

BASW England has accepted all the independent recommendations and says it will now proceed to implement these improvements and develop the PCF.

Dr. Ruth Allen, Chief Executive Officer of BASW, said the results as ‘encouraging’, committing to work with a steering group of sector representatives and ‘Experts by Experience’ of social work services to take forward ‘phase two’ of the project.

“One of our Experts by Experience encouraged this evaluation in its early stages by saying: ‘The PCF is the moral compass of social work’ and we hope to bring that even more to life, ensuring its role in shaping practice, leadership and social justice across social work as one profession is even clearer in its next iteration.”

The evaluation was commissioned by BASW England in 2023 to understand how the PCF is being used and valued contemporarily – essentially, to determine whether it is still fit for practice.

While the PCF was reviewed and refreshed in 2018, following extensive sector consultation, and endorsed by the Chief Social Workers for both Adults and Children, it has never been independently reviewed at any point.

BASW England says it welcomes feedback and encourages organisations to get involved in its engagement activities to create the future PCF. Get in touch about this at any time by emailing them at: https://www.basw.co.uk/contact?category=England

Picture: BASW

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