Professional regulation and the integration of children's services in the UK: maintaining standards while promoting disability equality

Publication Date14 October 2009
Date14 October 2009
AuthorChih Sin
SubjectEducation,Health & social care,Sociology
The representation of ‘the child’ within children’s services and the representations of ‘risk’ and
its management have implications for disabled people hoping to qualify for and work within
certain professions. This article assesses the relevance for children’s services of findings
from the Disability Rights Commission’s Formal Investigation into the impact of professional
regulation on disabled people studying and working within three public sector professions
in Britain – nursing, social work and teaching. Many professional regulations include varied
and vague requirements for ‘fitness’. These are interpreted and implemented differently, often
informed by unexamined negative assumptions around disability. Disabled people, particularly
those with ‘hidden disabilities’, can be discouraged from disclosing their conditions. This
deprives them of the support and adjustments necessary for them to practise safely and
effectively. Professional regulation can thus paradoxically induce a false sense of security.
The various professions are urged to review and update their regulations, guidance and
policies in order to ensure concordance with recent developments in disability and wider anti-
discrimination legislation.
Key words
professional regulation; disability discrimination; risk; Disability Rights Commission; Formal
supervised or otherwise, with a range of people
deemed to be ‘vulnerable’. One of the groups
coming under this label is, of course, children.
Moss (2002) argued that the ‘child’ of children’s
services in the UK ‘is a “poor” child: she [sic]
is “the child in need”, “the child at risk”, “the
In recent years, concerns around risk management
and public protection have led to an increasing
focus on regulation across a range of professions.
This is particularly so in relation to professions
where practitioners have a high degree of contact,
Professional regulation
and the integration of
children’s services in the UK:
maintaining standards while
promoting disability equality
Chih Hoong Sin
Principal, Office for Public Management (OPM), London, UK

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