Skip to main content

Please note: this event has passed

An online witness seminar as part of the SASCI research programme in association with the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work

Social workers in England were first required to register with a regulatory body following the Care Standards Act 2000 which led to the establishment of the General Social Care Council (GSCC) in 2001. This was followed by the closure in 2002 of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW), the regulator and awarding body for social work education programmes (then at diploma level) and awarding body for social care qualifications. As Jones (2020) explains, this significant change followed a long campaign by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and others. The ambition of those who supported the innovation was to set out the principles and values of social work to inform the public and against which social workers could be held to account. The establishment of a regulatory body also put social work on an equal footing with many other professional groups. However, over the last two decades this has remained a contested area of policy marked by ongoing changes including to the regulatory body itself and the eventual creation of Social Work England in 2019.

As part of the Supporting Innovation in Adult Social Care (SASCI) research programme this webinar will consider the key themes of how and why innovations spread and are sustained, the roles played by political leaders and other key influencers, and the role of evidence and values. More specifically we will consider:

  • Why was the idea of social worker registration and regulation accepted by government?
  • Who were the key influencers and what did they do?
  • Why has the regulatory body been continuously changed?
  • Have registration and regulation had the impact that its original supporters hoped for?


Dr David N Jones

David qualified as a social worker in 1974 and served as General Secretary of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) (1985-94) during which time he was a member of CCETSW. He led the BASW campaign for social work regulation and was actively involved in the GSCC Implementation Group. He was awarded the Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol medal ‘for an outstanding contribution to international social work’ by International Federation of Social Workers in 2018. David is a Board Member of the Commonwealth Organisation for Social Work (COSW) and the Chair of the Social Work History Network.  

Daphne Statham

Daphne began her career working with children and families in Oxfordshire. In 1965 she moved to set up and run one of the new qualifying social work programmes for non-graduates before working for CCETSW in its early days. In the 1980s she returned to teaching non-graduate social work students at Ruskin College, Oxford. Her career ended as Director of the National Institute of Social Work. Subsequently, she contributed to projects in various parts of the UK on improving direct practice and its management, on developing standards for social care workers and in Russia on reforms to its welfare system.

Jennifer Bernard

Jennifer qualified as a social worker in 1978 and was the final chief executive of CCETSW. She was central to the move to degree level of social work as a qualification, and the introduction of workforce regulation. She set up, initially through CCETSW, the Training Organisation for Personal Social Services (TOPSS) (now Skills for Care) and later the Skills Academy for Social Care. As Director of Services for Children and Young People for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) she was one of the first social workers to be registered, as part of the pilot programme by the GSCC. She went on to manage all vocational qualifications for City & Guilds. She currently chairs the Board of Governors for the University of West London and Rightsnet, which provides services for welfare rights advisers and organisations.

Professor Aidan Worsley

Aidan is a Professor of Social Work and a qualified social worker. He is currently Research Lead for the School of Social Work, Care and Community at the University of Central Lancashire and also a Speciality Research Lead for Social Care with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) – covering the Northwest Coast region of England. Aidan has written extensively about social work regulation and related subjects and was seconded into the Department for Education to develop government policy options around education and training for Social Work England.


Dr Lisa Trigg

Lisa leads the Research, Data and Innovation team at Social Care Wales. The team works to support people working in social care in Wales to make use of research and data to inform policy and service design and practice, and to support social care innovation. Social Care Wales is the Welsh Government-sponsored body that leads improvement, workforce development, and regulation of the social work and social care workforces. Before joining Social Care Wales, Lisa spent seven years at the London School of Economics conducting comparative research on international long-term care systems. Her PhD research compared the government approaches in England and Australia to improving quality in residential care for older people. Before this, Lisa spent seventeen years as a consultant and leader in customer relationship management in Australia and the UK, in sectors including utilities, IT, media, telecommunications, travel and health care.


Booking for this online-only event is via EventbritePlease be aware that this event will be recorded.

About witness seminars

This is the second in a series of three witness seminars being organised by the Supporting Adult Social Care Innovation Project (SASCI), led from the LSE, and involving Jill Manthorpe and Carl Purcell from the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King's.

Historical perspectives are vitally important to effective policymaking and the development of services for the public. A failure to learn from the past often leads to bold claims about ‘new’ ideas and ‘radical’ reforms which invariably just reinvent the wheel and fail to avoid past mistakes. Over recent years ‘witness seminars’ have provided an important means to try to improve our understanding of key events or a particular period of policy development within the bounds of living memory. Witness seminars typically bring together researchers, policymakers, people undertaking or affected by policies and other key individuals that have studied or played a more direct role in the development of particular policies, new social movements or service innovations. Contributors address a particular subject from their own perspective, drawing on their memories or records of the time.

The first witness seminar in this series focuses on the Care Certificate. The third and final seminar in the series is tbc.

SASCI is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation (Research Grant Number ES/T001364/1) and led by the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, LSE.


A transcript of this seminar is available:

Manthorpe, J., & Purcell, C. (Eds.) (2023). How did Social Worker Registration in England Come About? An Online Witness Seminar, 27th March 2023. NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London.

Event details