Social workers: Assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE): Challenges and rewards

The assessed and supported
first year in employment, or ASYE, is designed to help
newly qualified social workers – like this group in
the London Borough of Brent – develop skills, knowledge
and professional confidence. All organisations in England who employ
social workers in the private, voluntary, NHS and local authority settings
are encouraged to participate. We built it on the back of the existing
newly qualified social worker frameworks in Children’s and Adult services. And so the reform board
asked Skills for Care and the then Children’s Workforce
Development Council to develop ASYE on that basis. And since CWDC
have been no longer there, we’ve worked in partnership
with the Department for Education. The ASYE is open to newly qualified social
workers in the private and voluntary sectors, as well as the statutory sector. It’s underpinned by the Professional
Capabilities Framework for social work and is certificated by
the College of Social Work. The first year in practice is really important
to support social workers to put into practice the things that they’ve
learned through the course of their degree and to help them to become
effective practitioners in a work setting. It’s a serious role.
You know, there are lives at stake. We’re dealing with vulnerable children,
vulnerable families, vulnerable adults. So we’ve got to try and step up
to the profession. And really… ..take the learning development
more seriously. Learn from mistakes
and move forward. Well, in a sense,
it’s what it says on the tin. You’ve got an assessment process.
You’ve got support. You’ve got a year’s worth of time and you’ve got people
who are in employment. Each employer is free to roll out the ASYE
programme in a way that works best for them. Here at Brent Children’s Social Care,
ASYE supervisors work with assessors and two ASYE coordinators to implement
this structured support for newly qualified social workers. At the start of the process there’s a three-way
meeting and the newly qualified social worker, the assessor and the line manager
agree their learning agreement: how often they’ll have supervisions,
when their observations will be done. And they complete their professional
development plan. Central to the ASYE programme
is one-to-one supervision – a combination of workload management
and time for reflection in order to develop in
and through practice. Newly qualified social workers –
who must all be registered with the Health and Care
Professions Council – are given the space to consider all aspects
of their practice and personal development. What do you want to talk about
in terms of reflection and how you’ve applied that in practice? I did a visit and the children
are quite young. So it was…
They were like four and eight. I got the eight-year-old to draw out
the tree-houses for me, which was something that got him more
comfortable with what was happening… You read all about it at the start
and you’re like, “Oh, my God! It’s like I’m being watched.”
But it doesn’t feel like that at all. You just feel like you’ve got this time
to ask questions and explore it. Did the houses drawn by the children help you to understand, emotionally,
where they’re at? Yeah. So if you said to them, “You’ve
got your good house, your bad house and you’ve got your dream house,”
if you concentrated on the good house… Learning is an important process.
We learn every day outside and inside of work. And what I encourage is to
look at how they intervened, what were they learning and how
they hoped to intervene differently. And also emotional resilience. I think the core of the supervision sessions is really getting support, because you have to gain confidence
in more complex cases. And, kind of, acknowledging feelings
because we deal with difficult situations and that’s something I think,
as a newly qualified social worker, you really have to get used to,
to really deal with difficult emotions. Actually what you’re seeing is
a development of not just the individual but of their practice expertise as well. And that can be seen over the first year, but is something that is part of the
reflective practice of the social worker throughout their career. In Brent, group work is an integral part
of the ASYE programme. In this workshop, newly qualified social
workers from across children’s services are mapping a case using
the signs of safety approach to safeguarding and assessing risk. So this is a…
a new referral that’s just come in. And it’s come in from the police. And they were called to the home
of the family… If you’ve got a
newly qualified social worker who’s come into a team
which is quite experienced, they might not necessarily talk through their
feelings or thoughts in terms of their cases. They might not feel confident to do that. At first, I thought Mum was minimising
the domestic violence which took place. How was she doing that? Because I explored with her
why she hadn’t reported it to the police. Had it happened before?
Did she understand the issue in terms of the child being present?
The child could have been hurt. It’s a safe space and it’s an opportunity for you to bring cases that you find quite challenging and have input, not only from the facilitator, but from other colleagues who are
in different services to where you work. I recently attended signs of safety
and although I feel equipped with the tools I still felt a bit shaky, but being able to have
the opportunity to discuss the case again, go through it in more detail,
be very interactive, was very useful and now I feel
slightly more confident to use it myself. It’s about them being able
to meet the nine domains in terms of the Professional
Capabilities Framework. And providing them
with an evidence base as well as to how they’re actually meeting
that competency level. Added to the ASYE support package
is a holistic assessment process. Assessment includes direct observation, as well as feedback from line managers,
professionals and people who need care. Written work is also evaluated. All assessments are conducted against
the Professional Capabilities Framework. The PCF sets out the level
for the ASYE standard. But actually this idea of holistic
assessment is about progression and progressive activity
across the whole year. So it needs to include feedback from people
who need care and support, and their carers. It needs to include feedback
from a range of other people. I think the structure of the ASYE scheme, whereby your manager and others
can come out and observe you and write up those reports,
and you’re almost forced to get feedback from various different people. That’s really helpful in terms
of giving you the confidence that your practice
is on target and it’s safe. Input from people who require support
is another core element of the year; they provide first-hand experience
on the impact of the programme. I don’t know,
the first day when you called me I think was like already crying, anyway. So it wasn’t really helpful. But anyway, after that, like,
I don’t know. I guess it’s just nice to have someone
who, kind of, shows sympathy. It’s, kind of, a cycle
of getting positive feedback. And becoming more confident and then
also reflecting on what I have done to make a change
in the family’s life, really. The assessment process is continuous
and newly qualified social workers receive feedback throughout the year. Final reports determine whether they can
move to the next stage of employment. There is a clear difference now, when an employer can say, “Yes,
you’ve passed,” or “No, you’ve failed.” Again, I would want to emphasise
that the holistic process means that nobody should be
getting to the end of their ASYE and being suddenly told,
“You’ve failed.” Our assessment process is two observations
at the three-month stage and then at the six-
and the nine-month stage. And then at the eleven-month
stage is a final report. We’ll talk them through it.
We’ll give them the feedback. And we’ll say, “Well, perhaps you could
have considered doing something else. Managing your time better,
managing your cases better.” I think the hardest part for me, of the year, was committing to the two days a month
that we spent out of the office. Because if there’s
only four weeks in a month, that’s quite a significant number
of working days throughout the year. And so, as your case load gradually increases
and your commitments increase as well, it was harder and harder
to stick to that commitment. We do need to understand the pressures
that people are under and help in supporting
employers to address those. But I think it’s more important to see the
bigger picture of all the social work reforms. Well, I think the challenges –
workload is one of them, and I think that it’s important
to see this as part of the social worker’s and
the supervisor’s normal workload. This is not an add on, it’s not an extra,
it’s part of their day-to-day work. And I think the whole system
needs to recognise that. It has encouraged me to consider
emotional resilience much more. And it has made me a much
more confident practitioner as well. And I think it’s had
really positive outcomes for the children and families and
young people I’ve worked with as well. Thinking about it so constantly
for 12 months has brought the domains of the Professional
Capabilities Framework very much to mind. So that I can recall them all
and I apply them to my work more… more subconsciously. Encouraging people
to think about their progress, their development and
be assessed in a holistic way. I think all this fits together and it joins
up the professional process really well.

  1. Oh is this assessment based on the number of lies you can tell, or the number of lives you destroy in a year? – As for skills knowledge and professional competence, well one useful skill is to be able to drive someone to their deaths, through the distress you cause, (Hayley gascoigne) Social workers are horrible individuals and no, I personally have not had any social workers involved with my family, nor have I been through the family courts. But I have seen friends have their lives ripped apart by these very cruel individuals.

  2. I agree its a complex job…how can i write up this case note to make make the parent look as bad as i can..i know i just placed a lie in there.they wont know till they do a SAR.

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