ASYE Programme Evaluation
Project Dates: June 2014 - April 2015
Research team: Sue Bailey, Andrew Sach
Funder: University of East Anglia
The assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) was recommended by the Social Work Task Force, as part of the drive to improve the standards and standing of the social work profession, and introduced nationally in September 2012. The ASYE scheme aims to develop the skills, knowledge and capabilities of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs), and to build their professional confidence in their own practice. It brings together NQSWs working with adults and those working with children and families, offering one unified set of guidance.
The approach to the ASYE in the Eastern region was carefully designed and developed jointly by regional employers and UEA, building on the successes of earlier regional NQSW programmes. The link with Masters level academic credits at UEA was continued by providing a 40 credit module as part of the scheme.
This evaluation explored the benefits for workers and sponsoring agencies of linking the ASYE with a Masters module at UEA, noting what has worked well, and what has worked less well, using a mixed methods approach.
All involved were enthusiastic about the programme. Successful completion rates on the UEA module are very impressive at well over 90%. Involvement with UEA is seen to offer high standards, independent quality assurance and to help with regional standardisation and consistency. It brings added credibility to the whole ASYE programme.
The encouragement of critical reflection is highly valued. UEA is seen to provide the key bridge for newly qualified staff between their day-to-day social work practice and the research and knowledge base underpinning it. Despite some initial resistance to further study, NQSWs came to value the UEA module as a useful way to capture, and reflect on, their professional development.
The UEA contribution was acknowledged to be both responsive to the needs of the agency partners, and flexible in responding.
Results from the social work practice questionnaires showed that NQSWs were most positive about their ability to show care and compassion and to consult with service users, and to be able to explain to users what they were doing and why. They also rated on-going learning and training highly, and felt they had been given the opportunity to learn and acquire new skills. NQSWs judged that they were less effective in verifying information and using research evidence to support their decisions in their day-to-day practice. They were also to some extent uncomfortable in dealing with uncertainty and changing situations, managing the emotional stresses of the job and in avoiding being overwhelmed by the demands of the new role.
Retention rates for new social work staff have improved since the ASYE programme has been introduced.
Staff development officers report a better ‘grounding’ for new staff, higher levels of understanding and analysis, and increased confidence.
Agencies expect ASYE ‘graduates’ to be able to take on higher levels of responsibility earlier, and to be committed to nurturing future intakes of new staff themselves by becoming supervisors, assessors or practice educators themselves.