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Government stops NAAS accreditation scheme for Social Workers

The Department for Education has announced that it is ceasing its national assessment and accreditation system (NAAS) for children’s social workers.

Since it’s introduction in 2018, the scheme has seen more than 1,700 frontline practitioners and practice supervisors be accredited across 69 local authorities and children’s trusts, equivalent to just over 5% of the children’s statutory workforce at a cost to the public purse of £24m as at 2020.

The DfE’s original plan was for all children’s social workers to be assessed by 2020, which it later revised to rolling out the scheme from that year following a series of trial phases. However, the scheme has been beset by a lack of buy-in from sector bodies and lower-than-expected engagement from practitioners. It was also impacted significantly by the pandemic.

The DfE plans to introduce a replacement accreditation programme later this year, designed to be “more sustainable” and deliver “a better overall experience for social workers” that was “more meaningful” for them and employers. This is likely to be based on remote testing, rather than the in-person model delivered through NAAS assessment centres.

The NAAS online portal will close at the end of February, after which candidates enrolled in the scheme will not be able to access their results and certificates.