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National Guidelines


The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is the regulatory body for the social service workforce in Scotland. The SSSC has responsibility for the regulation of the social service workforce and its education and training. Our objectives are:

  • to protect those who use social services
  • to raise standards of practice
  • to strengthen and support the professionalism of the workforce and in doing so to raise public confidence in the social service workforce.

The purpose of registration

Social service workers in Scotland work hard, often in difficult circumstances, to support and improve the lives of service users and carers. The regulation of the workforce will focus on:

  • recognising and supporting the commitment and professionalism of the workforce
  • setting qualification requirements as part of the eligibility criteria for registration
  • protecting those who use services by taking action against the minority of workers who abuse their positions of trust
  • helping to ensure safe recruitment, effective management and the continuous professional development of the workforce
  • contributing to improving the standing and quality of social services.

Who will be registered?

There are 138,000 social service workers in Scotland. The SSSC will phase in registration of key groups of social service workers. The register opened for the first group of workers - all social workers, i.e. those with a Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) or an equivalent qualification on 1 April 2003. Registration of other workers included in phase one of registration commenced as follows:

  • students on the new honours degree and postgraduate courses in social work - spring 2004
  • Care Commission officers - December 2004
  • managers of residential child care services - June 2005
  • residential child care workers with supervisory responsibilities - October 2005
  • all other residential child care workers commences - July 2006
  • managers of care homes services for adults - January 2006
  • managers of adult day care services - January 2006.

Groups in phase two will begin to register as follows:

  • managers/lead practitioners in day care of children services - October 2006
  • practitioners in day care of children services - March 2007
  • support workers in day care of children services - October 2008
  • supervisors in adult residential care - September 2007
  • practitioners in adult residential care - January 2009
  • support workers in adult residential care - April 2009
  • workers in housing support services - autumn 2009.


Codes of Practice

The UK-wide Codes of Practice developed by the Scottish Social Services Council and the equivalent regulatory bodies for England, Wales and Northern Ireland set down the standards of conduct and practice people can expect from social service workers and their employers. All social service workers and their employers are expected to adhere to the Codes of Practice. Registrants have to formally agree that they will adhere to the Code of Practice for Social Service Workers and adherence to that Code will be a major consideration in any investigation of alleged misconduct of registered workers.

Qualification requirements

The qualification requirements set as part of the eligibility criteria for workers in phase one and phase two have been set by Council.

How and when to register

Protection of the title of "social worker" came into effect on 1 September 2005. As yet, no date has been set by which other workers in phase one and phase two of registration have to be registered. It is recognised that it will take time for workers to achieve required qualifications and that in relation to larger groups of workers eg residential child care workers, employers will have to phase access to registration in order to allow sufficient time for workers to access and achieve required qualifications. This means that it is not expected that all workers will apply for registration immediately a relevant part of the Register is opened. Applicants to the Register who do not hold the required qualifications may, if they meet all the other eligibility criteria such as evidence of good character, be granted registration subject to the condition that they achieve the required qualification within a specific period of time – normally within the first three year period of registration. Students on the honours degree and postgraduate courses in social work must register with the SSSC for the duration of their course. Successful applicants to these courses will receive an application pack for registration from their course provider.

Registration and Conduct rules

The SSSC Registration Rules set down how social service workers may apply or registration and how the Register will be maintained. The SSSC Conduct Rules set down how the Council will investigate and hold hearings about allegations of misconduct against registered workers.

Useful information

Post Registration Training
Codes of Conduct
Codes of Practice
Registration Rules
Continuous Professional Development
PRTL Record Pro-forma (Word)

The Continuous Learning Framework

On 3 December 2008 Adam Ingram the Minister for Children and Early Years launched the Continuous Learning Framework. The Framework has been developed in partnership by the SSSC and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS). It aims to improve the quality of outcomes for people using social services by supporting the people who are delivering these services to be the best they can be.

Further Information

The Framework for Continuous Learning
The Continuous Learning Framework