How North Yorkshire uses an informal approach to prepare social workers for NAAS and offer relevant learning and development opportunities.

North Yorkshire county council: at-a-glance

  • Outstanding Ofsted
  • 288 social workers in the 2018 to 2019 financial year
  • Large practice area
  • Rural profile


Line mangers use a simple approach that’s informal and voluntary. The approach emphasises:

  • building personal relationships between line managers and social workers
  • using early NAAS adopters to share learning with social workers considering NAAS
  • developing learning and development opportunities

Line managers encourage social workers to focus on:

  • what they already do well
  • ways they can demonstrate their skills effectively in the assessment

This keeps the approach simple and limits the amount of extra learning social workers may need to do.

It shows social workers that they can already do much of what is in the assessment and boosts their confidence levels as they prepare for NAAS.

Steps taken

Line managers arrange a discussion with social workers called a ‘pre-assessment conversation’.

This includes using the knowledge and skills statements (KSS) to decide if a social worker is ready to volunteer for NAAS.

Once social workers have volunteered, they then attend a tailored set of ‘action learning sets.’

These are facilitated by social workers who have already taken the assessment. Action learning sets are designed to share learning among social workers and help with assessment preparation.

This includes identifying social work theories and approaches they use in their day-to-day practice.


North Yorkshire avoided using a paper-based approach.

This means they can:

  • be more responsive to social workers’ development needs
  • reduce workload for managers
  • give social workers quicker practice endorsement decisions

Early volunteers

Getting volunteers to take the assessment early helps to test whether the approach is working and where improvements should be made.

Early adopters can provide new cohorts with feedback on what to expect, how they can prepare and how to get their knowledge and practice skills across in the assessment.

Focus on learning and development

Feedback showed that the knowledge assessment can be the most challenging part of NAAS.

Instead of preparing for every situation on the knowledge assessment, social workers are encouraged to focus on their own learning and development and day-to-day practice in relation to the KSS.

This shows them what they can already do and ensures that they’re in a good position in relation to the KSS.

Published 19 June 2019