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Personal development plan in social work

Most councils in England have adopted the ASYE, but how does it compare to the programmes offered in other countries?

Stressed social workerViewers recognised how challenging a social work career is (Image Broker/Rex, posed by model)

Community Care’s investigation into the recruitment and retention of newly qualified social workers across the UK suggests the majority of local authorities in England have now rolled out the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE). Here is an at-a-glance guide to the ASYE and equivalent schemes or approaches across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Introduced in September 2012, the ASYE is a one-year programme aimed at supporting and developing newly qualified social workers (NQSWs). It is designed to consolidate what recent graduates learned during their degrees and sees participants supervised through a gradually increasing caseload, which is reviewed throughout the year.

How does it work?

NQSWs have a chance to reflect on their progress, as well as to be observed at various points and given a personal development plan. The assessment of the year is intended to be holistic, assessing the broad spectrum of skills necessary for social workers as interrelated, in a move away from modular assessment that considers each skill in isolation.

Is it compulsory?

No, the ASYE can be implemented by individual authorities at their own discretion.

What are people saying about it?

“We are pleased that most local authorities (and a growing number of independent sector employers) are taking up the ASYE, ” says Joe Godden, professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers. “I think it’s a good thing that it is not compulsory; if it was, it might be that people would take it less seriously – just ticking the boxes.”

The first year in practice in Wales is made up of two sets of guidance introduced in 2008. One is for employers and lays out the arrangements all employers of social workers should have in place to support their newly qualified social workers. The other is for the social worker and describes what they should expect form employers and the steps they can take to prepare for practice and progress their learning.

The model recommends nine elements to be included in the arrangements for NQSWs in their first year. These include: having a personal development plan based on their existing skills and areas that need consolidation and development; structured supervision and planned relevant learning opportunities; a designated mentor; and opportunities to meet and learn with other NQSWs. The programme involves a system of probation and appraisal, but it is not assessed.

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