In his speech, to the NSPCC, the Minister declared:
“In too many cases, social work training involves idealistic students being told that the individuals with whom they will work have been disempowered by society. They will be encouraged to see these individuals as victims of social injustice whose fate is overwhelmingly decreed by the economic forces and inherent inequalities which scar our society. This analysis is, sadly, as widespread as it is pernicious. It robs individuals of the power of agency and breaks the link between an individual’s actions and the consequences. It risks explaining away substance abuse, domestic violence and personal irresponsibility, rather than doing away with them.
The Education Secretary continued:
“Social workers overly influenced by this analysis not only rob families of a proper sense of responsibility, they also abdicate their own. They see their job as securing the family’s access to services provided by others, rather than helping them to change their own approach to life. Instead of working with individuals to get them to recognise harmful patterns of behaviour, and improve their own lives, some social workers acquiesce in or make excuses for these wrong choices.”
Polly Neate is Chief Executive of Women’s Aid. She responded to Mr Gove’s claims:
“Two women a week are killed through domestic violence in this country, and all the research we have shows that specialist domestic violence services are the best way to help women escape and rebuild. Good social workers are able to identify that domestic violence is not a ‘life choice’ that a woman needs to take responsibility for, it is an appalling situation she is trapped in by a perpetrator who manipulates, controls, threatens and harms her.”
She called on the minister to
“make clear that women experiencing domestic violence have a right to immediate safety and support and ensure social workers are fully trained to identify domestic violence and support women’s access to the services they vitally need.”