Social workers to rethink training: Anti-racist committee to be abolished under reorganisation

THE SOCIAL workers' training council is planning to abolish its black perspectives committee - responsible for promoting anti-racist practices in the profession - as part of a restructure.

The curriculum for the teaching course for the Diploma in Social Work, the social workers' main qualification, is also to be redrawn, just four years after it was approved, following recent criticism that it contained 'politically correct nonsense'.

The document setting out the rules and requirements for the Diploma in Social Work, known as Paper 30, includes a policy statement on anti-racism, called annex 5, part of which is expected to be dropped.

The policy statement, written by the black perspectives committee, includes: 'CCETSW (Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work) believes that racism is endemic in the values, attitudes and structures of British Society, including those of social services and social work education.'

Jeffrey Greenwood, the new chairman appointed by the Department of Health, has told the Independent he 'profoundly disagrees' with that statement although he said he was committed to equal opportunities for all. He also wants 'politically correct nonsense' in social work training 'rooted out'.

At his first public meeting yesterday it was announced that David Divine, assistant director of the council and a member of the black perspectives committee, had handed in his resignation.

Afterwards Mr Divine told the Independent his resignation was 'unrelated' to the restructuring. He plans to do post graduate studies, more consultancy and more practical social work. Asked if he approved of the abolition of the black perspectives committee he said: 'There will be some concerns in the wider social work community as to whether the new structure will adequately take on board the issues on which the committee has been advising the council. The jury is out.'

Mr Divine was formerly director of social services at Brent Council in north London for 18 months until July 1988 when he resigned and was paid a reported pounds 43,000 compensation after attempts by some Labour councillors to get him to take early retirement, aged 33.

The decision to 'reduce and simplify' the council's committee structure was taken at a private meeting on Wednesday.

After yesterday's meeting, Tony Hall, the director, said it had been decided to reduce the number of central committees. The education and training committee will be incorporated into the full council and the policy and resources committee will merge with another.

Mr Hall said a decision to abolish the black perspectives committee was deferred until the next council meeting in April. He said: 'We still wish to maintain an element of that work but want to review the best way of continuing the work by the council. It is an essential part of social work training.'

But a member present at the private council meeting said a decision to abolish the black perspectives committee had effectively been taken because the new structure for next year did not include it.