Letter: Social work and political correctness

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The Independent Online
Sir: Bryan Appleyard in his article 'Why paint so black a picture?' (4 August) goes rather over the top about the shortcomings of social work training. The Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work's Paper 30, which spells out the knowledge and skills required for the basic social work qualification - the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) - is blamed for everything from bad social work practice in adoption cases to 'a wave of oppression and corruption' in British universities. What nonsense]

A few facts. Paper 30 was written less than five years ago and received the full support of the Government, social work employers, academics and the social work profession. A second edition was produced in 1991 without concerns being expressed from any quarter about the requirements for qualification contained within it.

Second, the DipSW is provided by social work employers and universities working together. It focuses on the practical skills of social work; theory is taught only to support practice. It was designed to address the commonly accepted weaknesses of the predecessor qualifications. To date, only a few hundred social workers have qualified with the DipSW since its inception.

Third, the council is not in the business of promoting 'political correctness' in the training of social workers. Far from it. It does, however, seek to ensure that qualifying social workers are able to work effectively in a multi-racial society. This includes expecting students, as one part of an extensive range of knowledge and skills, to understand the causes and consequences of racism and other forms of discrimination. This is so that they can recognise the phenomenon when they see it, help their clients to cope with it and avoid it in their own practice.

The council in no way condones the kind of over-zealous, oppressive approach to the teaching of racism and anti-racist practice which Mr Appleyard thinks is promoted by Paper 30. If we had received any specific complaints of this kind, the council would have investigated the claim and taken whatever action was necessary. No such complaint has been received.

Yours faithfully,


Director, Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work

London, N1