Give me a student undertaking a three year social work degree, consisting of the most unadulterated Marxist rubbish, and I will give you a social worker who puts their warped ideology ahead of the interests of those they are paid to serve.
There are 22,050 children's social workers in England. Nobody can join them without a social work degree. Somebody who might have the most impressive practical experience is prohibited from joining unless they have first subjected themselves to the degrading thought control. Endless stuff about how they need to consider the individual cases they are dealing with in the "context" of how the capitalist system must be overthrown.
Frankly it is astonishing that there are as any good social workers as there are. I have met several who cheerfully admit to cynicism about all the nonsense they had to learn before being allowed to get on with their mission of saving children.
That does not alter the astonishing harm that is done by the requirement to have this qualification or the odious nature of its content.
The regulatory body for social workers is the Health & Care Professions. Its mushy Standards of proficiency includes plenty of code words from the Left:
5 be aware of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice
5.1 be able to reflect on and take account of the impact of inequality, disadvantage and discrimination on those who use social work services and their communities
5.2 understand the need to adapt practice to respond appropriately to different groups and individuals
5.3 be aware of the impact of their own values on practice with different groups of service users and carers
5.4 understand the impact of different cultures and communities and how this affects the role of the social worker in supporting service users and carers
6 be able to practise in a non-discriminatory manner
6.1 be able to work with others to promote social justice, equality and inclusion
6.2 be able to use practice to challenge and address the impact of discrimination, disadvantage and oppression.
Some may just shrug off these bland references. We're all against oppression, aren't we? Although a bit odd to see this in a job description. Supporting social justice? Didn't Iain Duncan Smith set up a think tank about it?
I'm afraid that if Mr Duncan Smith, or anyone else with his interpretation of social justice, decided to become a social worker and expressed himself honestly in his essays he would have difficulty qualifying. He might wish to avoid Liverpool Hope University where Dr Michael Lavalette is the Professor of Social Work. Dr Lavalette is a member of the Socialist Workers Party and runs their front organisation the Social Work Action Network. This consists of denouncing social workers that do their jobs rather than spending time on "solidarity", "collective action" and "building alliances."
What about those Conservatives seeking a career in social work choosing Bath University to secure the necessary qualifications? There it's Dr Mark Baldwin who is the senior lecturer. He is keen on:
Radical social work practice – history, current renewed interest and development within social work organisations and collective organisations. This includes an exploration of the re-emergence of interest in social work as a political activity and of community focused social work as a manifestation of a more radical practice.
Last year The Guardian offered some tips for social work students from Professor Peter Beresford of Brunel University:
Join the union, your professional association and get involved in the new College of Social Work. Build alliances with other professionals, work at strengthening the team you are in. Get their strength around you. Learn from the Social Work Action Network and build links with service users and their organisations.
Manchester University and the University of Central Lancashire sponsored a conference for their social work students to attend at Liverpool University with various far left speakers on how to link social work to assorted "struggles" involving the "Stop the War Coalition", the trade unions and resisting deportations. I think we get the picture.
A paper by Birmingham University about the history of their social work courses notes this type of thinking is well established:
The late 1960s and early 1970s was a period of global radical political action. This had an influence on social work education and practice. Radical social work texts emerged analysing the structural and political positions of social work clients and critiquing social casework as the dominant method of practice. The social work teaching at Birmingham moved in 1973 from a
social casework focus to a ‘unitary model’ approach. An approach designed to educate students about the range of political, economic, social and personal systems which impacted on clients lives as well as the range of techniques and strategies needed to work with them.
If we are attempting to bring on the revolution the decisions of social workers suddenly become explicable. It is not about the needs of the individual but building collective resistance. The evidence is that children in care thrive at boarding schools. But could the social workers collaborate with the class enemy?
The social work preoccupation with an ethnic match in adoption has no basis of being in the interests of the child. But for the revolutionary left, racial antagonism is a means to bring about social change. Black identity is about the struggle, smashing the system. Why the social worker preference for constantly returning a child to their biological parent(s) to face more abuse rather than adoption? It's about the class system. It tends to mean returning a child to a council block rather than a new life in an affluent middle class home. How would that help speed up the crisis?
Let's remember that bursaries, financed by the taxpayer, to undertake these social work courses come to £70 million a year. This funding should cease.
I would be surprised if the Education Secretary Michael Gove regards the current arrangement for qualifying to be a social worker as entirely satisfactory. However there is the complication that the Universities Minister David Willetts is desperately craven.
What is needed is to end the ban on those without a social work degree practising as social workers. A local authority or agency should be able to take a broader view on who would do a good job. This might be a young recruit with a good degree in another subject (any other subject!) than social work who could then serve an apprenticeship before being given individual responsibilities. It might be a charity worker with a proven record of success. Or someone who has been a social worker abroad.
Very sensibly, free schools (and soon academies) are allowed to employ teachers without a formal teaching qualification from a Teacher Training College. If, for example, someone has been a fantastic teacher at an independent school for years but doesn't have Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) it's absurd to prohibit them from state schools. Similarly if a couple who have been exemplary foster carers for seven years decided they wanted to become social workers is that really less of a qualification than enduring years of indoctrination in Marxist theories?
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan it's not that those who have taken the social work degree are ignorant, "it's just that they know so much that isn't so." I repeat that many social workers are decent practical people who manage to some extent to forget the theories and get on with the job. Such "sell outs" are a grave disappointment to their old professors. Other social workers keep the faith rigidly maintaining all the dogmas inculcated in them without being distracted by reality.
Social workers should not have social work degree courses inflicted upon them.