Education Standards Review 2021-24

The Social Workers Registration Act (2003) enables the SWRB to set standards for social work education in Aotearoa New Zealand.  

All social work tertiary education programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand must meet the SWRB Education Standards (were Programme Recognition Standards) to continue to deliver, and continue to deliver, prescribed social work qualifications.  

The Board uses Education Standards to ensure education providers deliver a social work degree that: 

  • delivers on the purpose of the Social Workers Registration Act (2003)
  • reflects the content of the General Scope of Social Work Practice
  • enables graduates to meet professional standards for entry into the social work profession such as Fitness to Practice requirements, the Code of Conduct and the Ten Core Competencies.    

These Standards are reviewed regularly (every four years) to ensure they remain fit for purpose. This current review process was originally scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to the impact of the pandemic. Work on the review started late in 2021 and has continued through 2022 and 2023. 

Since June 2022 this work has been titled the Education Standards Review as the language around programme recognition has evolved.  

He Arapaki – Our approach for the review

The SWRB committed to a process which is underpinned by He Arapaki, the SWRB Māori Development Strategy and Action Plan. He Arapaki is informed by its core values of Matatika, Manaaki, Mahitahi and Māia, and the SWRB whakatauakī:
He ara pūkenga, he ara tauwhiro, hei whakamana mātā waka. 

Sector engagement and consultation for the draft Education Standards (PRS) was undertaken within a Te Tiriti o Waitangi framework and representing the SWRB value of mahitahi | the principle of partnership. 

The 2022 phase of the review included significant sector engagement, was overseen by the SWRB’s Chief Advisor Social Work. Kaiwhakahaere were appointed representing tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti to co-lead the work with the SWRB review team.  An advisory rōpu was appointed for the review. This rōpu  is made up of four tangata whenua and two tagata Pasifika social workers. A reference rōpu was also established with its members reflecting Aotearoa’s diversity. 

The 2022-2023 review phase drew on themes emerging from wānanga, hui and direct contributions from the sector. Draft Education Standards were developed and made available to the sector in May 2023. In July 2023 a discussion document and online survey was circulated to those who had been involved in the review.

Responses affirmed that the draft standards captured the essence of the themes from earlier engagement in that they better integrated Mātauranga Māori and other knowledge into the curriculum.

August 2023 – February 2024

In late 2023, a final review was undertaken to ensure the Education Standards aligned with SWRB legislation and intent, and that key concepts such as public safety appeared in the standards as curriculum guidance for educators.

As well, a comparison of the draft Educations Standards against the standards of other national and international regulatory bodies was undertaken to analyse gaps or overlaps.

Ensuring that the standards are future-focused and flexible enough for alternative programme structures was important to meet future identified needs for the social work profession and to enable innovative approaches to qualification delivery. Further amendments were made in some areas with the goal of improving graduate competence and outcomes.

The revised Education Standards are now in their final draft form as approved by the SWRB Board in December 2023. They are being released to the sector for information and future planning until their incorporation into the SWRB Education and Training Framework, including the monitoring framework for the Standards, in mid-2024.

You can download:

  • The pou and narrative which frame the Education Standards

Pou and Narrative for SWRB Education Standards 2024

  • The revised draft Education Standards

SWRB Draft Education Standards 2024

We would like to acknowledge and thank all the people who have contributed their time and energy to this mahi. There will be a further update to the sector when the SWRB Education and Training Framework is nearer completion. If you have any feedback or urgent queries at this stage, please get in touch so these can be considered as this work progresses.

Page updated: 15.07.24