Standards of Proficiency

Each resource on The Social Work Toolkit has been mapped against the HCPC Standards of Proficiency.

The Standards of Proficiency are the professional standards which every registrant must meet in order to become registered, and must continue to meet in order to maintain their registration.

Social workers in England joined the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) on Wednesday 1 August 2012. These standards are effective from that date.

The Standards of Proficiency (SOPs) set out what a social worker in England should know, understand and be able to do when they complete their social work training so that they can register with the HCPC. They set out clear expectations of a social worker's knowledge and abilities when they start practising.

The work to set the standards of proficiency for social workers in England developed alongside the work of the Social Work Reform Board. One outcome of the Reform Board, the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF), is now managed by the College of Social Work.

For more information about the SOPs please visit the Health and Care Professions Council.

For quick access to specific resources that relate to particular SOP standards navigate the information below.
Click on the links below to learn more about a particular aspect of each section, and to access the resources related to that topic.
  • Reconciling your personal and professional values
  • Do you agree with the centre manager's decision?
  • How do your own values sit alongside the professional value base?
  • ''He told me I had allowed him to be himself...''
  • Philosophical perspectives: professional ethics and moral philosophy
  • What can you do when the law and ethical dilemmas collide?
  • Anti-oppressive ethics and ethical thinking
  • ''I felt pulled in three different directions and wasn't sure what my next step should be.''
  • Partnership with service users: the legal perspective
  • Accountability in social work
  • Effective social work communication and the professional value base
  • Skills in working with children and families
  • What does being professional mean to you?
  • How has the Code of Ethics influenced your practice?
  • ''All of sudden, Petra seemed to rush in and completely take over.''
  • Working in partnership
  • How can you promote good practice when working with gay, lesbian and bisexual service users?
  • What do you feel the attitude to risk is in social work?
  • How does a social worker assess needs without disempowering the service user?
  • Do you feel involved in assessment as a service user?
  • Engaging and assessing in social care
  • ''I have been asked to meet Brian to review his situation...''
  • Why might a service user become dependent on a social worker?
  • How well do you think social workers listen?
  • ''It was difficult to know how far to try and persuade or even coerce Mrs Brown...''
  • How do you approach decision making on placement?
  • Assessment and Intervention
  • Working with involuntary service users
  • Why might a service user become dependent on a social worker?
  • How did a social worker support you to become independent?
  • From a disabled person's point of view, why is social inclusion important?
  • How did a social worker's intervention support you in taking control of your own life?
  • Receiving feedback from service users
  • How do you personally evaluate your practice?
  • Assessment and Intervention
  • Living with a dementia diagnosis
  • Safeguarding older people
  • Everyday ethics
  • Effective social work communication and the professional value base
  • Skills in working with children and families
  • Using different question types
  • Handling conflicting expectations in a multi-disciplinary setting.
  • What does being professional mean to you?
  • Reconciling your personal and professional values
  • How has the Code of Ethics influenced your practice?
  • ''He told me I had allowed him to be himself...''
  • ''All of sudden, Petra seemed to rush in and completely take over.''
  • Working in partnership
  • Partnership with service users: the legal perspective
  • How can you promote good practice when working with gay, lesbian and bisexual service users?
  • What do you feel the attitude to risk is in social work?
  • How does a social worker assess needs without disempowering the service user?
  • Do you feel involved in assessment as a service user?
  • Engaging and assessing in social care
  • ''I have been asked to meet Brian to review his situation...''
  • Why might a service user become dependent on a social worker?
  • How well do you think social workers listen?
  • Do you agree with the centre manager's decision?
  • ''It was difficult to know how far to try and persuade or even coerce Mrs Brown...''
  • How do you approach decision making on placement?
  • Assessment and Intervention
  • Working with involuntary service users
  • Why might a service user be reluctant or resistant to a social worker's involvement in their lives?
  • How have you used your communication skills to build a relationship with a new service user?
  • Meeting a service user for the first time
  • The practitioner relationship and emotional intelligence
  • ''To begin with, I'd like you to tell me a little bit about what actually happened.''
  • How well do you listen?
  • Everyday ethics
  • ''All I could see was a posh woman in a suit...''
  • Meeting a service user for the first time
  • What does being professional mean to you?
  • ''I felt this blurred the professional boundaries...''
  • Social work as a profession: Its roots, identity and value base
  • Managing professional boundaries
  • Reconciling your personal and professional values
  • How do your own values sit alongside the professional value base?
  • Putting professional values into practice
  • Effective social work communication and the professional value base
  • ''...she spends most of the time gazing around the room...''
  • Meeting a service user for the first time
  • Communicating effectively: what would you do?
  • The dos and don'ts of using the telephone
  • ''Are you ok to talk? I can hear voices in the background.''
  • How well do you think social workers listen?
  • ''...she listened to me, and to my surprise, acknowledged she could see how I might feel that way...''
  • The dos and don'ts of listening
  • Managing the focus of the interview
  • Confidentiality and accessing information
  • How do you prepare to end your placement?
  • Receiving feedback from service users
  • Effective supervision on placement
  • Facing the challenge
  • What qualities or attributes do you think social workers should have?
  • How has the Code of Ethics influenced your practice?
  • ''All of a sudden, Petra seemed to rush in and completely take over.''
  • What lessons did you learn from your first assessment?
  • Ending intervention: a social worker's viewpoint
  • As service users, how are you involved in assessing fitness for practice?
  • How have you used your communication skills to build a relationship with a new service user?
  • Effective social work communication and the professional value base
  • ''...she spends most of the time gazing around the room...''
  • ''All I could see was a posh woman in a suit...''
  • The practitioner relationship and emotional intelligence
  • Communicating effectively: what would you do?
  • The dos and don'ts of using the telephone
  • ''Are you ok to talk? I can hear voices in the background.''
  • The dos and don'ts of using email
  • ''she listened to me, and to my surprise, acknowledged she could see how I might feel that way...''
  • ''To begin with, I'd like you to tell me a little bit about what actually happened.''
  • The dos and don'ts of listening
  • Skills in working with children and families
  • Using different question types
  • Skills to check understanding
  • Managing the focus of the interview
  • How have you coped with communication difficulties on placement?
  • Overcoming barriers to communication
  • ''These guys were not aggressive, in fact quite the opposite.''
  • How can you begin to build a relationship with a reluctant/resistant service user?
  • How to conduct an interview with an interpreter present
  • As a person with hearing difficulties, how do you expect a social worker to communicate with you?
  • Communication difficulties
  • Professional writing in social work
  • Communicating with children
  • The community dimension of working with an interpreter
  • Establishing a day in the life of a school age child
  • Asking informed questions to build a relationship with a service user
  • –    social work theory;
    –    social work models and interventions;
    –    the development and application of social work and social work values;
    –    human growth and development across the lifespan and the impact of key developmental stages and transitions;
    –    the impact of injustice, social inequalities, policies and other issues which affect the demand for social work services;
    –    the relevance of psychological, environmental, sociological and physiological perspectives to understanding personal and social development and functioning;
    –    concepts of participation, advocacy and empowerment; and
    –    the relevance of sociological perspectives to understanding societal and structural influences on human behaviour
  • What does integrating theory and practice really mean?
  • How do you decide which theory or theories to use?
  • The psychodynamic approach
  • The behavioural/cognitive behavioural approach
  • The person-centred approach
  • The task-centred approach
  • Crisis intervention
  • The solution-focused approach
  • What does being professional mean to you?
  • Effective social work communication and the professional value base
  • Social work as a profession: its roots, identity and value base
  • Skills in working with children and families
  • Lifemaps
  • Care planning in adult services
  • Social divisions
  • Social work values and working with difference
  • How can you promote good practice when working with gay, lesbian and bisexual service users?
  • How to conduct an interview with an interpreter present
  • From a disabled person's point of view, why is social inclusion important?
  • Genograms
  • Ecomaps
  • Culturagrams
  • Reconciling your personal and professional values
  • Philosophical perspectives: professional ethics and moral philosophy
  • Legal perspectives on anti-discriminatory practice
  • Anti-oppressive ethics and ethical thinking
  • Accountability in social work
  • Why might a service user be reluctant or resistant to a social worker's involvement in their lives?
  • ''...my work had been ethnically sensitive, it had not been anti-racist''
  • How does a social worker assess needs without disempowering the service user?
  • Receiving feedback from service use
  • Do you agree with the centre manager's decision?
  • Applying theory to practice
  • The practitioner relationship and emotional intelligence
  • Knowledge for social work practice
  • Psychosocial understandings of resilience and shame
  • Psychosocial perspectives on the lifecourse
  • Attachment theory across the lifecourse
  • Models of disability
  • Ecological theories of human development
  • A theoretical perspective on social work and substance use
  • Living with a dementia diagnosis
  • Relationships and trust
  • The care system from the inside
  • A positive experience of foster care
  • Safeguarding older people
  • Risk factors in child development
  • Observing babies and young children
  • Negotiation and resistance: It's all about the child
  • The Compleat Social Worker: the well-rounded practitioner
  • Standards of Proficiency