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For the learning not just for the logging

How to approach Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on entering the new registration window. By Laura Carter, Consultant Social Worker

This article is aimed to give practical tips to social workers and organisations to approaching CPD within the new registration window.

All social workers registered in England should meet the following standards:

1. Promote the rights, strengths and wellbeing of people, families and communities.

2. Establish and maintain the trust and confidence of people

3. Be accountable for the quality of my practice and the decisions I make

4. Maintain my continuing professional development

5. Act safely, respectfully and with professional integrity

6. Promote ethical practice and report concerns

CPD is just one element of the professional standards, However, had significant focus within the last registration renewal window.

SWE CPD standards state the following:

As a social worker, I will:

4.1 Incorporate feedback from a range of sources, including from people with lived experience of my social work practice.

4.2 Use supervision and feedback to critically reflect on, and identify my learning needs, including how I use research and evidence to inform my practice.

4.3 Keep my practice up to date and record how I use research, theories and frameworks to inform my practice and my professional judgement.

4.4 Demonstrate good subject knowledge on key aspects of social work practice and develop knowledge of current issues in society and social policies impacting on social work.

4.5 Contribute to an open and creative learning culture in the workplace to discuss, reflect on and share best practice.

4.6 Reflect on my learning activities and evidence what impact continuing professional development has on the quality of my practice.

4.7 Record my learning and reflection on a regular basis and in accordance with Social Work England’s guidance on continuing professional development.

4.8 Reflect on my own values and challenge the impact they have on my practice

It is really important that the focus for any CPD is on the learning, not just on the logging. The logging, however, is still very important too! As detailed above, CPD has to be logged in order to meet the required standards to practice, but it is important to shift the emphasis from logging the CPD to the learning and development this provides. CPD is about learning and asking ourselves these key questions: Why do we, as social workers, do what we do? Is this to be the best practitioners we can be? To be the most knowledgeable and skilled for the people we work with? It’s time to embrace learning to improve our practice and to log this to demonstrate we continue to meet the professional standards.

What counts as a CPD activity? This can be any activity that has improved your practice where you can demonstrate the learning.

Here are some examples:

Training. A fairly obvious CPD activity, but it’s important to ask yourself that very important ‘so what?’ question. What impact has this training made? How will you take this forward?

Gathering feedback (and using it). Gathering feedback from people with lived experience is an established part of the assessment of student social works and Newly Qualified Social Workers. However, gathering feedback from people who we work with should be an ongoing part of our everyday practice. How do we know we are doing our job right, and whose measure are we using? Gathering feedback and putting this into action to improve our practice is a very powerful CPD activity.

Reflection Whether this is individual reflections, group reflection or via supervision, it’s about the learning and impact upon practice.

Reading. This can be anything from a short article or blog to a full book or piece of case law. It could also be this newsletter! It’s about the learning that has been taken forward from the reading.

Supervision. Critically reflective supervision focusing on applying theory to practice is a great way to develop as a practitioner. Use your appraisal to identify your own learning needs and how you intend to meet them. This is something embedded into the portfolio for student social workers and also for ASYE programmes- let’s make it part of everyday practice.

Team meetings. Have a standing agenda item for team meetings for CPD, learning and professional practice. An informed discussion about applying theory to practice or a particular relevant piece of research would be a perfect way to meeting CPD standards 4.3 and 4.5.

Practice forums/ communities of practice. These are becoming increasingly popular within organisations or partnerships, to bring social workers together to share learning.

YouTube. Particularly with a shift to remote working, YouTube has seen a big rise in popularity within social work.

So, now we are in the new registration window, how shall we approach this?

Have a plan. What are your learning needs and how are you going to meet them? Which of the CPD standards are you going to explore first?

Develop a learning culture. Set up a journal club, share the article you thought was really interesting or share your reflections on a situation. It might really help you, but also those you share it with.

Recognise what we do. As social workers we are continually learning and developing, every time we read, or plan for a new scenario. This is CPD. Embrace the learning to develop as a practitioner, and view logging this as a real opportunity to clarify your own reflections on the learning being taken forward.

Make time. Habits are formed via repetition. Set a time every month for keeping your log up to date. CPD has always been part of social work registration, this is now just logged in a different way.

The key message is to embrace CPD, reflect on why we do what we do and to enter into the new registration window of 2020-2021 proactively.

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