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Pivotal role for University of Sussex in national programme developing careers in social work

Professor Gillian Ruch has welcomed the university's pivotal role in an exciting national initiative supporting the career development of social workers.

The University of Sussex has been selected to play a key role in a nationwide career development programme supporting social workers.

Research in Practice (RiP), together with a group of partners including the University of Sussex, have formed a consortium to develop and deliver a national Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP) funded by the Department for Education.

The programme is a significant investment by the Department for Education (DfE) and aims to provide high-quality continuous professional development (CPD) to up to 700 social workers taking up their first role in which they are responsible for supporting and developing the practice of others.

The wholly not-for-profit consortium led by RiP includes: The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, University of Sussex and Goldsmiths, University of London. 

The consortium will work with a number of skilled ‘local delivery partners’ comprising universities, Teaching Partnerships and trusted CPD providers in every region.

Gillian Ruch, Professor of Social Work at the University of Sussex, said: “This exciting national initiative will involve University of Sussex academics in the design and delivery of a nationwide continuing professional development (CPD) programme for social work practice supervisors.

“Recognised for its expertise in delivering high quality, practice relevant CPD programmes, our social work academics will play a pivotal role in scoping and designing the programme structure and content as well as delivering the programme to practice supervisors employed in local authorities in the South East of England.

“As part of the Department of Education’s social work reform agenda, the programme will ensure supported pathways into management roles for our social work graduates who can be confident that the process is evidence informed and responsive to the everyday demands faced by social work frontline managers, contributing to the improvement of management and leadership practice across the sector as a whole.”

The consortium and partners are working to design a creative and evidence-informed approach to delivering the PSDP; developed with the sector, for the sector. It will reflect, but not be limited to, the requirements of the Knowledge and Skills Statements and will complement the wealth of existing CPD activity in this field.

Over the next two years, every local authority will be entitled to places on this national programme, and in addition an open-access online resource will be developed, providing useful materials to all those who wish to engage with this programme.

The consortium brings a unique combination of topic evidence expertise, experience of delivering complex learning and development programmes at a national scale and proven credibility with the children’s sector.

Key aims and values of the PSDP include empowering practitioners to build confidence, mobilising academic knowledge and practice expertise, and working in partnership with the sector. The programme will also engage with organisational culture, recognising the key role that employers and leaders play in enabling high-quality learning for Practice Supervisors.

Dez Holmes, Director of Research in Practice, said: "Practice Supervisors play a vital role in enabling excellent social work practice. These newly-appointed colleagues are taking on significant responsibility and deserve the best possible support to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence.

"We are delighted to be hosting this programme and are extremely proud to be working with such a fantastic range of partners. Collectively and individually, we bring a great deal of expertise, and are committed to working collaboratively with others who are active in this field. Importantly, we will develop this programme in close consultation with the sector – ensuring that research knowledge, practice wisdom and the voice of children and families is at the heart of everything we do."

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By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Friday, 15 June 2018