All posts by Jessica McEwen

Social Work England secondment

My name is Liz Howard and I am currently employed by Sheffield City Council as a Practice Development Manager with responsibility for promoting and maintaining high standards of practice and compliance with the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

I have recently studied for and achieved, a PG Cert in Leadership and Management in Social Work, through the South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership.   Shortly after completing the leadership and management course, I became aware of a secondment opportunity with Social Work England. Having read through the job specification I was excited to hear that Social Work England would have a base in Sheffield and that they were looking for an experienced Adult Social Worker . I felt immediately that this was an opportunity not to be missed and sought the support of my manager and colleagues in expressing an interest in the role. Following an informal meeting at the end of January 2018 I was told I had been successful. Yesssss! . The role is initially for 6 months with the option for a further 6 month extension and with scope to join Social Work England as a secondee, as the new regulator is established.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 establishes Social Work England as the new, specialist regulator for social workers in England. It is a body independent from government responsible for setting professional education and training standards for social workers and providing assurance that those registered meet the standards, are qualified and remain fit to practise. I will be joining this high profile national programme of work at a key moment in its development.

The primary objective of the new regulator will be protection of the public. Establishing Social Work England is a key part of achieving the Government’s vision to improve both the quality of social work practice, and the systems that support social workers.

In this role I will provide line of sight to frontline practice, providing both challenge and support as well an inputting social work knowledge and experience into strategy and operational development, support and promote engagement with the sector including facilitating consultation with social workers, people with support needs, employers and training providers on proposals for professional standards of conduct, CPD standards and approach, and training and education standards for the training of social workers.

I’m looking forward to getting started and to be part of this new and exciting chapter for social work.





Research reviews and practice resources

Members of the social work research and teaching team in the Department for Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield have developed a short series of research reviews and practice resources based on their recent research and practice interests. Children’s social care staff at Rotherham Council also assisted in the development of these resources in two focus groups held in 2015. The resources aim to provide an accessible summary of key issues and developments about several topics within children’s social care accompanied by practitioner orientation activities, thinking points and messages. For more information please see. They include

  • Sen, R (2017) Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE): Awareness, identification, support and prevention. Download hereCSE Practice Resource Sen June 2017
  • Leigh, J (2017) Supporting practitioners in Children’s and Adults’ Social Care. Download hereLeigh 2017 Support practitioners in social care FINAL
  • Churchill, H (2018 Forthcoming) Whole family support.
  • Churchill, H and Laing, J (2018 Forthcoming) Parental, Child and Family Engagement in Family Support and Child Protection.


The South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership (SYTP) have worked collaboratively to develop a number of initiatives aimed at supporting progression and career pathways for our social workers – through their initial training, to their ASYE and beyond. For example:

  • Purest statutory placements have been provided to 99% of students for a second year running
  • Placement 1 has been extended to 100 days to enhance student skills and experience
  • We have developed a series of workshops for students to increase knowledge around current social work frontline practice and employability skills
  • Employability rates have increased, with more students obtaining jobs within SYTP LAs following graduation
  • We work closely with Children’s Social Work Matters to advertise jobs to students and NQSWs
  • We have developed a robust, shared ASYE programme for children and adults services
  • We have developed an Advanced Practitioner Framework to provide accredited CPD opportunities linked to clear career pathways.

For further information, please see Case study – Progression

Management and Leadership

The South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership has developed a clear CPD pathway to support the development of our managers and leaders. This pathway forms part of our Advanced Practitioner Framework for practitioners in children’s and adults services, and includes:

  • A 30 credit module ‘Introduction to Leadership and Mentoring
  • A Post-Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management, which is delivered by the University of Sheffield’s School of Management
  • The Assessed and Supported Year for New and Aspiring Managers (ASYAM) – a pilot programme to support new and aspiring managers through their journey into frontline operational management which will be delivered from March 2018, and will combine bespoke, targeted CPD provision along with work-based mentoring and support, in order to develop a clear, well-supported career pathway into management for our social workers.

For full details of the ASYAM programme, please see

To find out more about our CPD opportunities and our Advanced Practitioner Framework, please see

Our management and leadership programmes are mapped to the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS) for Practice Supervisor and Leader. To find out more about the KSS, please see


Chris Erskine, Associate Lead Professional for Lincolnshire County Council Adult Care

What is your role, describe a typical day?

I am the Associate Lead Professional for Lincolnshire County Council Adult Care and I’m proud to say I’m a Social Worker having qualified in 2010. My role now is very much about providing a link between front line Adult Care practice and organisational development. On a day to day basis I promote a culture of continuous improvement in the quality of Social Work practice. This can include working with practitioners and colleagues to develop Policy and procedures that shape the way we work.

Why did you choose to do the leadership and mentoring module?

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen as a Social Worker is the Care Act, which I believe is a real opportunity for Social Work to be more than just about assessing needs but supporting people to lead good lives by realising their own strengths/assets and connect with their communities. To achieve this shift I wanted to develop my leadership skills and understand more about organisational culture and how to influence change. I’m passionate about making a difference and to do this I need to be able to influence others both practitioners and senior managers in the organisation. The leadership and mentoring module covered all of the things to help me to achieve this.

Did it give you what you were looking for and if not what was missing? How has the leadership and mentoring module impacted on how you work.  Please give examples.

Yes absolutely, you don’t often get ‘Eureka’ moments where the way you think really shifts, but that happened for me. I understand much more about the culture within the organisation and how to manage and influence change at all levels. Some of the key things I’ve applied in my work are; the need to be clear about the values that underpin changes so that people can see the benefits of change, develop a sense of purpose and showing how the new ways of working are making a positive difference.

The learning and assignments on the module gave me the opportunity to question how and why we do things the way we were and to start a project to develop a ‘lean’ thinking culture within the Adult Care. Ultimately, the hope is that this will free practitioners up to spend more time doing direct work with citizens.

Do you think it will help you if you want to progress in the service?

Yes the module enabled me to reflect on what I did well already in my role and what I needed to do differently moving forward. I’ve developed my leadership style and I am flexible in the approach that I take to help people reach their potential. I’m already seeing benefits through the feedback from my colleagues and managers. Now that I have completed the module the knowledge and skills I have acquired mean that I can apply for more senior management roles developing practice or in organisational development….I’m just waiting for the right role to come along!


Social Work Education Panel: Experts by Experience

Fiona Addison, the SYTP lead for Service User and Carer Engagement, talks about how SWEP’s ‘experts by experience’ are currently involved in Teaching Partnership activities:

With a record number of trained ‘experts’ including foster carers, adult carers, care leavers and young carers we are at the beginning of our busiest and most demanding time of year. Both universities have started their recruitment/assessment sessions for social work students and we represent the voice of children, young people and their carers at every event.  At the University of Sheffield we provide speed interviews and service user representatives on the interview panels; and at Hallam we participate in group observations alongside academics and practitioners and then score the students’ written insights on how they performed in the group activity.

In addition we provide workshops for students on placement, titled ‘It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it’ the workshop focuses on messages for social workers from children and young people in care, and uses the award winning film from our children in care council.  Foster carers facilitate the small group discussions throughout the workshop, and to date feedback has been excellent.  We participate in the annual ‘Living Library’ events at UoS, with 5 or 6 carers routinely joining 50+ students to share their ‘expertise’.   We also contribute on an ad hoc basis to individual lectures/seminars as and when invited by the academic lead.

Recruitment/assessment in numbers:

  • 14 trained foster carers
  • 1 trained parent/carer (from Rotherham)
  • 12 trained young people including care leavers, young carers and birth children in foster families (from Sheffield and Doncaster)
  • 19 selection events (7 completed)
  • Over 400 students predicted to be interviewed/observed

We’re looking forward to:

  • Attending lectures to get a feel for the social work curriculum and it’s delivery
  • More structured participation in social work education but with a clear focus on co-production
  • Becoming an ‘Experts by Experience’ resource linked in with individual academics’ areas of knowledge and specialism so we can contribute to the design and delivery of course content

Queries, questions, comments welcome to

Comments from service users and carers who have been involved in SWEP activities:

“Our work improves the jobs of the new social workers coming through, because we can pass on all our experiences, good and not so good, and what we think makes a good SW, and what children and YP expect, that makes them glad they have a good SW. Also what we or /yp/ think is a bad SW!”

 “I feel that the gap between social workers and foster carers is narrowing, both sides giving our own perspectives of the service, the pros and cons, and giving both sides a better understanding of the jobs we have and hold dear.”

Comments from students participating in ‘Service Users are People Too’ workshop, December 2016:

what a fantastic class, I really felt involved and respected”

“very good to hear the perspective of the people who support children for the large periods we are not there. How they deal with the repercussions of our actions/decisions”

“Really puts into perspective how important it is to explain what is happening to service users”



World Social Work Day 2018!

World Social Work Day will be on the 20th March 2018. It is the key day in the year that social workers worldwide stand together to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and to their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action.

For further information, please see

University of Sheffield ASYE Module

As part of the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment newly qualified social workers within children’s social care have the opportunity to gain academic credits for some of their work for the ASYE portfolio.

At the 9 month point of employment NQSW’s produce a 1000 word reflective piece on work they have undertaken with a family on their caseload. At the 12 month point of employment workers produce a 2000 word assignment considering the learning and development they have undertaken during the ASYE programme. Both assignments are intended to assist workers in demonstrating their developing skills, competence and confidence during the first year of practice and build on writing and critical thinking skills gained at university. A half day workshop focussing on the requirements of the assignment tasks is regularly delivered by staff from the University of Sheffield.

Successful completion of both assignments leads to the award of 15 credits from the University of Sheffield and opens up the possibility to apply to undertake further modules on the Advanced Practitioner Framework run by the university on behalf of the Teaching Partnership. We have recently started registration of our second cohort for the ASYE module. Developments for the future include a re-design of the module to provide a greater level of teaching input and separation of the module from local authority ASYE portfolio requirements.

Assessed and Supported Year in Employment

We recognise that working in social work is demanding, particularly when you are at the start of your career. Supporting our newly qualified social workers through the Teaching Partnership’s Assessed and Supported Year in Employment Programme (ASYE) is how we provide a bridge from initial training to competent and confident practice based on a firm foundation of knowledge and skill.

Children’s Services

Newly qualified social workers across the partnership are mentored by a social work consultant or equivalent for the first twelve months and are supported to gain their fitness to practice certificate. Key features of the programme include a reduced caseload, monthly network meetings to meet with peers and receive additional training, two study days per month and regular developmental supervision. Work undertaken by the South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership ASYE moderation group means that we have been able to provide a more consistent approach across the partnership to our newly qualified workers. All our workers now undertake a baseline assessment of their knowledge, skill and experience upon arrival so that appropriately tailored professional development plans can be formulated to support individual learning needs. These are then reviewed and updated at formal reviews of progress at 3, 6, 9 and 12 month points on the programme. Workers experience three formal observations of their practice whilst on the ASYE. They are required to produce 4 critically reflective written pieces during the twelve months and also seek regular written feedback from professionals and families they work with. This, along with a record of training completed across the year, and formal assessment reports from their manager and mentor make up the ASYE portfolio. This is considered by individual local authority ASYE panels in order to achieve fitness to practice.

Being in the Teaching Partnership has also provided some excellent opportunities for newly qualified workers from across the partnership to come together to learn and develop. We offer a six days ‘Core Skills’ training course just for new workers. This training course is very immersive; it focuses on the use of self and learning about ways to better manage very demanding work environments. We have also had a number of themed research days where we have considered the voice of the child in assessments and effective reflection, among other topics. Feedback to consultants and mentors across the partnership indicates that our newly qualified workers find this additional layer of support whilst finding their feet in a new career invaluable.

As part of the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment newly qualified social workers within children’s social care also have the opportunity to gain academic credits for some of their work for the ASYE portfolio. Please see here for details of our accredited ASYE module

Adults’ services

Since January 2016, 15 ASYE’s have successfully completed their ASYE with a further 8 that are currently in progress. Social workers have consistently demonstrated proficiency in a wide range of tasks and roles and have particularly proven to be able to deal with more complex situations; developing respectful and situation appropriate professional relationships, thus building their own confidence and earning the confidence and respect of others. On completion of the ASYE, social workers have continued to consolidate practice experience and learning which they have then shared with their peers and has allowed them to contribute to the evaluation and development of their organisation. Indeed, at least six of the 15 have progressed to practice educating with others already considering progression and potential social work management. Overall, there has been significant development in terms of progress of the ASYE in adults with further development in the pipeline of a more standardised and consistent approach in the region (South Yorkshire)’

A Day in the Life of….

Rebecca McClure – ASYE Hospital Social Work Team – Barnsley

What attracted you to social work

I worked as a nurse auxiliary and loved the listening to and talking with patients, more than the medical side. So I went to University and did a degree in Counselling, however this did not lead to anything when degree finished.  I then decided to go to a Huddersfield University’s open day and it was there I talked to the Social Work department and from that decided to study Social Work.

I qualified in July 2016 and got a temporary contract with Doncaster Royal Infirmary for 8 weeks, but was looking for a full time post so applied for a social work post with Barnsley.  My interview went really, and I really liked the team, so I  accepted my ASYE post here even though Doncaster then offered me a permanent post as well.

What team do you work in?

I started off in the Customer Access Team –  taking referrals from housing, self referral, district officers etc.  Work was very busy and fast, with not much long-term work.  Halfway through my ASYE year restructuring took place and the customer access team was disbanded.  I was allowed  to choose where i wanted to work and chose the hospital team.

My new team is working within the hospital setting with mostly elderly service users.  I found that my previous role as a nursing auxiliary has really helped in this new post as I have a greater understanding of how the hospital works and the different professional roles. Although the work can be high pressured I really  enjoy it.

Both teams have been very supportive and took me out on visits with them until my confidence and knowledge increased.

What support have you had as an ASYE?

I  started my ASYE with weekly supervision with my ASYE supervisor Karen Turner,  as time progressed and I became more confident these supervisions became less frequent though remained regular.  I also have a line manager who is an  Advanced Health Practitioner in the Hospital team, who goes through all my cases with me and I also have a team manager.  Karen has remained my ASYE supervisor through the change of teams.

Karen gave me a list of training, from Barnsley’s core offer,  that she recommended I undertake.  I was able to attend some of these but as I progressed in the ASYE year my caseload got bigger and I found there was less time to undertake all the training.

I have also has been part of a few peer group meetings – facilitated by Cora Beard – which included other ASYEs and students.  These groups consisted of going through each PCF and KSS and then a discussion on how they could evidence each one.  It was really helpful to meet other ASYEs and we were able to discuss our portfolios and help each other.

I also get a day of study leave every 2 weeks and it is during this time I work on my ASYE portfolio.