Standards & Quality Assurance

The Workforce Development Team regulates and quality assures graduate and post graduate social work education and training delivered in Northern Ireland to ensure that it is consistent with our requirements. Our Professional Advisers undertake a range of regulatory activity across the social work education continuum including:

  •  Approval/Re-approval of provision and assessors
  •  Attendance at Programme Management Boards and Assessment Panels
  •  Annual Monitoring
  •  External Examiner/Assessor reporting
  •  Training
  •  Standardisation

2019 Review of the Degree in Social Work


The Social Care Council Quality Assurance Framework

The Social Care Council Quality Assurance Framework for Education & Training outlines the principles and procedures for the regulation and quality assurance activity. It ensures that:

  •  Social workers are trained to the highest standards to provide safe and effective practice linked to our 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

The Social Care Council's Standards for Regulation

  •  The Social Care Council ensures that its standards for education and training are appropriate, comprehensive and reflect up to date professional practice
  • The Social Care Council's ensures that the delivery of education and training meets its standards
  •  The So has a transparent and proportionate system of quality assurance for education and training providers

Principles underpinning the quality assurance system

Our regulation of social work education and training, is based on the following principles:

  •  Continuous improvement
  •  Efficiency and effectiveness
  •  Consistency
  •  Transparency

Thematic Reviews

The 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. We 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 Professional in Practice (PiP) provision this may include visits to training providers.

Periodic Review

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


All provision within the  PiP 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

Our 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