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Criticisms of social work fall into six categories: First, there is a view that there are practical shortcomings in skills linked with criticisms of training. Second, there is the simplistic argument that social work has over-reached itself. Brewer and Lait (1980) have written as though the failings of social work are manifest, since its claims to a distinctive, autonomous professional identity are spurious. This is simplistic and erroneous, since the very centrality, 18 Quality Social Work and contested subject matter, of social work in society in part accounts for the vitriolic criticisms it attracts.

They tended to make decisions in isolation, without adequate consultation (ch. 8, p. 151). Consequently, other managers had tasks imposed on them, and they imposed tasks and responsibilities on other staff (ch. 8, p. 152). A letter from eighteen team managers written to the director of social services on 5 November 1990 concluded: 'The Team Managers wish to express their complete lack of confidence in the senior managers of the department' (ch. 12, p. 152). It detailed the following areas of great concern: '(a) lack of structure, direction or any coherent philosophy within the department; (b) inability to follow child protection procedures because of insufficient staffing; (c) lack of resources to carry out effective work with families; (d) apparent lack of communication at senior management level; (e) inadequate training offered to staff dealing with 'this complex area of work'; (f) extremely low level of morale ...

There was little sense of direction and little evidence of professional aspirations. More than once we heard evidence of a dismissiveness towards training and research' (ch. 21, p. 153) There was 'excessive tinkering with the structure' between 1983 and 1989 (ch. 25, p. 154). Many reorganisations had taken place, 'largely in relation to cost cutting' (ch. 23, p. 154). 'Open debate and opportunities for staff to meet informally were not encouraged' (ch. 27, p. There was 'resistance to experience and ideas from outside' and 'members of staff who express sed aspirations to high standards were terms 'naive' (ch.

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