17/02/2023 - Permalink

Applications open for fast-track children’s social worker training

Related topics: Children's services

Applications are now open for a fast-track training programme that could see people start a career as a children’s social worker in just 14 months.

The annual West Midlands Step Up to Social Work programme is a full-time training programme that starts in January 2024 and runs until March 2025. All course fees are paid and successful applicants will get a tax-free bursary of over £19,000 towards living expenses, travel costs and childcare arrangements.

Applications opened today (Friday 17 February 2023) and close on Friday 24 March [2023].

It’s hoped that successful Shropshire applicants will choose to start their careers in the county and take up a post with Shropshire Council.

It’s the eighth time that Step Up to Social Work has been run regionally, and to date 16 Shropshire students have completed – or are currently on – the programme. All former students have taken up jobs with Shropshire Council upon completion.

Now. Shropshire residents interested in working with children are being encouraged to apply to join the next intake.

Jane Otter and Jess Vaux were Step Up students in 2021 and now work for Shropshire Council as children’s social workers.

Jane Otter says:

Starting this course was a leap of faith driven by a desire to make a difference in children’s lives. The application process was exacting and the assessment day was exceptionally tough, but this meant that achieving a place felt like a huge vote of confidence in my skills to be able to do the job.

Step Up offered a route to qualification which was proven to be robust, effective and time-efficient. Whilst intensive, the 14-month programme was attractive in helping me to reach my goal of qualification quickly, and the bursary and funding of tuition fees meant that financially I could afford to dedicate my time and energies to the course.

I am now almost two years post-qualification and the learning journey continues. My ASYE year provided invaluable support from colleagues, and allowed protected spaces in busy days to reflect on my learning and practice as a newly qualified social worker.

The variety of roles available within children’s services means I have had the opportunity to work in a couple of teams and have now found my niche within children’s placement services. During these two years, I have been struck by the generosity of colleagues in sharing their knowledge and experience, and their compassion if new situations or challenges felt tough.

In social work, unquestionably, teamwork is everything!

Jess Vaux says:

I chose to study with Step Up as I wanted to progress with my career working with children and young people. Step Up is a great way to do this as – along with being supported throughout the course, which is short compared with a university or apprentice course – you are also supported financially through a bursary.

For me, I have really enjoyed being able to work one-to-one with children and young people. As a student, you are also very supported, not only by your practice educator, supervisor and tutor, but also from university and across the council as a whole. You are in a brilliant position to gain valuable skills and knowledge from your peers and through academic learning.

The program is fast-paced, and there are pressures, but the support from university, the council and your peers will get you through!

I am now two years post qualified and still continue to learn. My peers and my team hold me up and I continue to have highs and lows. However, I love what I do and seeing that you are helping families and ensuring children are safe, is why we do it.

Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to embark on a career as a children’s social worker and to make a real difference to the lives of Shropshire’s children and families.

“There is a national issue in recruiting social workers – there are just not enough being trained to meet the increasing demand for trained and experienced staff.

“We’re hoping that this opportunity will appeal to local people, who will then opt to stay living and working within the county once they qualify.

“Our children’s services were again rated as ‘good’ by Ofsted in November 2022 and we’re really keen to attract people who can help us maintain our effective services to families.”

For information, application dates and to register your interest, visit the Department for Education website. The website is due to be updated shortly with application dates and details.

Further information

To be eligible to apply for the Step Up to Social Work programme you will need:

  • A minimum 2:1 honours degree qualification, OR
  • A minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a higher degree at level 7 or above (which can include a master’s degree or a Postgraduate Certificate which must carry academic credits), AND
  • At least six months of experience of working with vulnerable children, young people and/or their families/carers.
  • English/Maths GCSE qualifications at grade C or above, or equivalent.
  • All original certificates will be required.