Survey of Principal Social Workers (PSWs)

Posted By : swr_2722

Each year, Daisy Bogg Consultancy Ltd (DBC) carries out a survey of Principal Social Workers (PSWs) to learn more about how the role is evolving, contributing to and shaping the social work and social care agenda.

In 2017, the focus of the survey was on how PSWs are engaging with each other, and the impact of their networks, both nationally and regionally. Of the 167 PSWs who completed the survey, 61 worked with children and families only, with a further 15 who work across both children’s and adults’ services.

The results of the survey have been published in a report circulated to all PSWs. The purpose of this article is to enable a wider audience to hear the views of PSWs who work with children and families.

The good news coming out of the survey is that many Principal Children and Families Social Workers (PCFSWs) and joint PSWs are actively involved with their regional and national networks as a way to engage with each other, share ideas and information and help to develop excellent social work practice. 80% have attended national network meetings and 72% have attended one or more of the popular national conferences, which are put on jointly with PSWs in adult services.

Increasingly, PCFSWs/joint PSWs are using twitter to keep in touch and share with each other, with 57% following and engaging with their network Chair in this way. At the time of the survey, the PCFSW twitter account hadn’t yet been launched, and we would expect that engagement with twitter has already increased, and will continue to do so.

Attending meetings, and getting involved in twitter are two aspects of engagement, but what about when PSWs are asked to work together in more depth, or put in rather more of their time? Again, the news is good. When it comes to volunteering to join national working groups, 66% of our respondents have done so, and an impressive 91% have taken part in surveys and consultations, for example on the National Accreditation and Assessment System (NAAS).

When asked about the impact of the networks for them personally, the biggest response came from those who identified the positive opportunity to meet with their Chief Social Worker and discuss national policy developments (18%). This fits too with what was considered to be the main achievement of the network over the past year; 32% identified the ability to influence the national agenda, suggesting ‘a strong awareness of the political potential of the children and families network…’ 1

With regard to challenges to be faced in the coming year, there was one topic that stood out in the responses; the implementation of the NAAS, identified by 26% as significant.

It would be fair to say that another challenge is to develop engagement with regional networks, as to date, a much smaller number (36%) of PCFSWs/joint PSWs have attended regional meetings. Encouragingly, those who have attended are overwhelmingly positive about their regional networks, with 80% of those who stated a view saying their network was effective to very effective.

Although no single quote from the survey can do justice to the range and depth of views expressed, this comment from a PCFSW seems to typically reflect what the PCFSW network is seen to have achieved over the last year, which is ‘promoting social work as a profession and being the voice of social workers’.1

In looking to the future of the networks, PCFSWs have recently been invited to say what they think their professional development needs are, and how they might be met, and we anticipate that their national network will lead a range of activities to meet these needs.

We hope and expect that the networks will continue to thrive and expand to become a key feature of the success of the PSW role.




  1. Principal Social Worker Networks: Survey of Principal Social Workers 2017