Mapping the terrain of selection for social work: a critical analysis.

Cathryn Holmstrom, Imogen Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the implications of the changing UK policy and regulatory contextsfor the often competing or contradictory interests and agendas operating within the arenaof admission decisions in social work education, highlighted by the introduction of thenew social work degrees in 2003-04 and the associated care councils. Other contextualfactors that impact on admissions to higher education more generally will also be touchedupon, including the widening participation agendas; increased requirements fortransparency of decision making in the selection process; questioning of the predictivequality of A-level scores; and, concern regarding recruitment and retention issues. Acritical review of relevant research into social work admissions processes and outcomes isreported on. The validity of current selection tools is examined utilising research findingsfrom within social work and allied disciplines. The authors argue that the increasedspotlight upon admissions and the ‘front-loading' of gate-keeping into social workeducation is both unrealistic and irresponsible as it omits the crucial ongoing role ofassessment throughout the process of qualifying education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-535
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • Social Work Education
  • Social Work Admissions
  • Selection for Social Work
  • Gate‐keeping


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