Standards & Quality Assurance

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (Social Care Council) Workforce Development Team carries out quality assurance checks on all Social Care Council approved social work education/training in Northern Ireland to ensure that it is consistent with our requirements.

Northern Ireland Social Care Council Quality Assurance Framework

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council Quality Assurance Framework for Education & Training Regulated by Social Care Council outlines the principles and procedures for the approval and regulation of the Social Care Council approved social work education and training (Degree, Practice Learning & Professional in Practice. It ensures that:

  • Social workers are trained to the highest standards to provide safe and effective practice linked to the Social Care Council's registration requirements;
  • Teaching, learning and practice is fit for purpose;
  • There is effective service user and carer participation in education and training provision;
  • There is a coordinated approach with regulators of social work service provision for example, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA); 
  • Continuous improvement is evident in education and training provision through monitoring and review including thematic reviews.


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Principles underpinning the quality assurance system

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council regulation of social work education and training, the Social Care Council is based on the following principles:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Efficiency and effectiveness
  • Consistency
  • Transparency

Thematic Reviews

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council undertakes thematic reviews that will apply across all provision. These thematic reviews may be dictated by, for example, issues raised by employers or issues that have been identified through RQIA inspections and by other relevant inspection bodies. The Social Care Council may also undertake ad hoc reviews if there are concerns about any area of provision. An independent visitor and a representative of service user or carer interests will be appointed to contribute to thematic reviews. For post qualifying training provision this may include visits to training providers.

Periodic Review

Following initial approval of a provider, the Social Care Council will undertake regular reviews of provision. The frequency of reviews will depend on the risk assessment of the quality of the provision.


Where annual monitoring continues to be satisfactory, the periodic review period for the Degree in Social Work will be five years. All provision within the NI PQ Framework will normally be re-approved on a five year basis, subject to satisfactory ongoing annual monitoring in the interim period. Where the academic revalidation cycle is on a six year basis, the Social Care Council will seek to accommodate this timescale

Outcomes of the quality assurance system

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council QA system will ensure that:

  • Regulated education and training provision meets the Social Care Council's Rules, Standards and Requirements;
  • Social work training at qualifying and post qualifying levels is fit for purpose;
  • Action is taken where problems are identified with the process and/or outcomes of provision;
  • An ethos of continuous improvement is promoted. An annual report will be produced for Council on the outcomes of the Social Care Council's quality assurance system.


Associated Resources