Craig, Deputy Practice Manager for Adoption in Wigan, didn’t hesitate to volunteer for the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS). Here, he reflects on his feelings of responsibility to complete the assessment and why it might open opportunities in the future.
When I first heard about NAAS, which aims to enable child and family social workers to continue to develop the skills and knowledge to improve outcomes for children and families, I remember thinking it sounded like an exciting opportunity. And as a supervisor of social workers, I felt the responsibility to volunteer for something that I'd be asking them to do.
I wanted to model showing initiative to others by putting my hand up and showing interest. I am of the view that social work should never standstill.
Wigan, as a local authority, encourages creative thinking and challenge. NAAS fell in line with that. We often volunteer to take part in innovative programmes and projects, which has rubbed off on our social workers. As a forward-thinking council, we tend to attract those kinds of people.
Volunteering for NAAS
I am someone who says ‘yes’ to things. Especially those that challenge and stretch me. There can be inertia in social work, particularly as I work in quite a specialist area – adoption. If we don’t look outwards, we can miss opportunities to develop and remain on top of our practice.
Volunteering helped manage my anxieties about NAAS. To think that I was helping to fine-tune and calibrate the process for others. It’s quite rare to be part of a programme from the planning phase and be able to give live feedback. Shaping what it might look like for others was very appealing. And on a more selfish level, I wanted to remain ahead of developments.
If NAAS is to roll out nationally, I wanted to get involved when it was a small group of local authorities. If I ever move on from Wigan, I will be more employable as an accredited social worker. And a potential asset to other agencies or local authorities. You never know – it might give me an edge over someone else in an interview.
Choosing what works for you
Committing to NAAS has been a difficult choice for many. The unions have been an important voice, both locally and nationally. I chose to approach this from a different point of view and not to make it a political decision. I decided to volunteer to take part.
I see it for the benefits and challenges that it brings. I would encourage others to think for themselves about whether it is right for them. NAAS is, on balance, a good thing. It is a courageous choice to decide to volunteer and go beyond the public narratives that we are hearing.
I challenge colleagues to not go down the easier route. To be curious about the risks and the benefits of choosing to do NAAS. I would encourage others reading this to do the same.
Are you considering taking NAAS? For more information and guidance on NAAS, visit GOV.UK.