NIESR Press Release: 'Child and family social workers lack formal knowledge and training on transgender issues', NIESR research finds

Author(s): PBuonadonna Published: 17th May 2018


A new report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research identifies a lack of transgender awareness amongst the child and family social work profession. The report, commissioned by the Department for Education, is the first published review of public sector professionals’ training on transgender issues, as recommended by the Women and Equalities Committee.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Many child and family social workers’ receive very little specific education of training in regard to transgender issues.
  • The reasons for this include: low priority due to low incidence; a preoccupation of core safeguarding issues (such as radicalisation and child sexual exploitation), and increasing pressure on resources.
  • The current regulation of the child and family social work is not prescriptive enough to ensure sufficient or consistent awareness of transgender issues amongst the profession. This is due to a lack of specificity in regard to curriculum content; a lack of explicit guidance regarding professional values and ethics in regard to protected groups; and a lack of regulation applied to post-qualifying education.

The findings of this report support claims submitted to the Women and Equalities Committee that transgender people continue to have poor experiences when in contact with child and family social services, and experience significant gaps in services.

Senior Social Researcher and report author, Nathan Hudson-Sharp, said: “The findings of this research show that transgender awareness is an area in need of development across the child and family social work profession, with the evidence clearly indicating a demand for additional training materials. By working together the Department for Education, education providers and social work employers can improve education and training, and ensure the needs of this often vulnerable group are met”.



Notes for editors:

The full report, entitled ‘Transgender awareness in child and family social work education’, is available here.

Due to conceptual and practical issues surrounding the collection of data on gender identity, there are currently no official estimates of the size or growth of the transgender population in the UK (ONS, 2009). Other estimates have varied from 65,000 in 2005 (Johnson 2005), to 650,000 in 2015 (approximately 1 per cent of the UK population) (GIRES, 2015; House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, 2016).

For a full copy of this paper, or to arrange an interview with the author, please contact the NIESR Press Office: Luca Pieri on 020 7654 1931 / l.pieri [at]  

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