Early Implementation of a NQSW Supported Year in Scotland

Early implementation areas across Scotland are putting the core elements of a supported year in place for NQSWs. This section of our dedicated website provides information for those who are involved in the early implementation of the supported year and for other people who are interested in this work. We will be sharing ideas and practical resources for supporting NQSWs effectively across Scotland.

If you are involved with an early implementation area and hold a grant to support this from the SSSC, you will find information, resources and templates for downloading for use in your organisation.

If you are not involved in an early implementation area you can still access the information about what work is underway and what organisations in Scotland are currently doing to embed the core elements of a supported year for NQSWs.

Full details about the NQSW Supported Year in Scotland will continue to be shared as this national project develops.

The core elements of a NQSW supported year

Early implementation sites are currently developing and enhancing the support and supervision for NQSWs in their organisations. There are core elements of support that provide the baseline for the NQSW Supported Year in Scotland. These core elements connect together and are required for NQSWs to consolidate and advance their professional practice.

Professional supervision
Professional development
Protected caseload
Peer support and mentoring
Protected learning time
Continuous professional learning

What is early implementation?

As part of the current phase of the NQSW national project in Scotland, we completed a grant application process to support small-scale early implementation of the newly qualified social worker (NQSW) Supported Year. All early implementation areas are now engaged in planning the core elements of the Supported Year.

The NQSW Supported Year outlines the minimum support and learning opportunities required to make sure NQSW can evidence consolidation and development of their social work professional practice in line with their responsibilities as an employee and as a registered social worker. Professional supervision and professional development are central to the approach.

Who is involved in this work?

A panel of representatives from the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government (OCSWA), Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) considered 23 applications and selected the following as early implementation areas.

Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership

North Lanarkshire Council

Perth and Kinross Council

South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership

Dundee City Council

East Dunbartonshire Council

Edinburgh City Council

Fife Council

SWIIS Foster Care Scotland

Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Argyll and Bute Council, Highland Council and Moray Council

What are organisations doing to implement the supported year?

“We are adopting a four-staged approach to implement the supported year.  Our first stage was to identify a process with HR which enables NQSWs to be identified at the point of recruitment. Secondly, develop a self-evaluation tool based on the Core Elements of the NQSW.  Thirdly, identify a steering group and working groups/ focus groups to undertake mapping, scoping, and research for implementing a NQSW Supported Year within our organisation and finally, identify key recommendations for implementing a NQSW Supported Year.”

“Implementing the supported year requires a whole systems approach that both meets the core components but also how the organisation benefits from this work. It is important that these benefits are explicit. As part of our programme we have one to one mentors although we have additional mentors who will focus on the activities and materials that support the work of the mentors. This will allow us to be more timeous with what emerges. We are also seeking to understand our experience internally to strengthen our approach to workforce planning.”

“Supporting line managers in monthly meeting re all core aspects. Rolling out mentoring training to make it uniformed across the council.”

“Clear and consistent communication with Team Manager and NQSWs about the NQSW Supported Year and Standards at the start of their year. Bringing the NQSWs together regularly to provide peer support in an NQSW Forum. Thinking about the standards and how we can support NQSWs with learning in these areas. Planning what kind of training and support Mentors will need in their new role.”

“Working collaboratively with HSCPs social work teams, in preparation for change, by exploring their attitude/understanding of existing pathways for NQSWs, thus enabling more considerate options to be considered with the implementation of the new requirements. Preparing for a development day with the Learning and Development Team to discuss the creation of the Learning Academy, for NQSW and Students.”

“Project managing the supported year with key tasks and timescales identified and mapped against the core components and NQSW Standards. Building the infrastructure/framework for the supported year in anticipation that we can commission individuals in the near future to coordinate the specific tasks, including web area, reflective forums, learning appraisals, etc.  Currently identifying 6 NQSW to formally track through the process.”

What have areas learned so far?

“The importance of clear communication with Team Manager and NQSW about the year. Learning is not just focussed on NQSWs, but how we create a learning environment for the organisation. The importance of clarity for NQSW about CPL and learning at the start of their year, so that this is established through their careers. Social Work values need to part of how we provide mentorship for NQSW to establish ethical practice and a robust understanding of the profession.”

“Although no-one is against this approach and model, the reality of implementation is that this is proving to be very difficult as it is entwined with status, remuneration and these national issues for social work”

“We have learned that implementing the supported year for NQSWs is a significant task which requires a great deal of planning, mapping, and scoping to ensure that an approach is identified which is not only supportive for the NQSW, but also for the mentors and Supervisors. 

The introduction of a NQSW CPL Session has reinforced the importance of wellbeing and peer support, especially when considering the NQSW Supported Year alongside the other priorities and policies of the organisation (i.e. hybrid working/ trauma-informed practice). It has also enabled us to identify the need to support Mentors and Team Managers, not only from a training/ development perspective but also in relation to wellbeing as it is recognised as a further change which may be perceived by some as an additional pressure/ demand. 

It is also evident that this is an organisational change as opposed to only social work (i.e. need to involve human resources re: identifying NQSWs) and an opportunity to create development pathways for social workers in respect of mentoring roles.”

“There have been challenges in terms of breaking down the project to make it attractive to those we would like to drive some of the work. Over the last few weeks, we have made progress on some of the components and will be revisiting the overall plan to identify gaps and offer smaller packages of work more aligned with social work practice, e.g. forums, mentoring, supervision, peer support, etc.”

“I have been very impressed by line managers commitment to make this year a success and their time commitment to ensuring the success of the project. I’m not surprised by the inconsistencies across the organisation but making roads into a more uniformed approach. I would recommend the NQSW area of the SSSC site to all involved. It is easy to use and the models such as 7-eyed model of supervision are very relevant”

Resources for early implementation areas

As early implementation areas develop the work they will be using a range of information, guidance and resources to put the whole approach in place. If you are leading an implementation area, you can find all the guidance and resources by clicking on the links below.

Please note that information and downloadable tools are in a temporary format for use by early implementation areas. These will be finalised in the next stages of the national project and will become available on this website.

Engaging your organisation

Supporting engagement in your organisation

Identifying and preparing

Identifying and preparing NQSWs in your organisation

Putting the whole approach in place

Supporting NQSWs through their supported year