Croydon launched one of the first social work academies in the UK yesterday. The Children, Young People and Learners Academy will provide new and experienced social workers with structured training.
Alongside a recruitment drive that brought 60 new social workers into the council, the academy was a £13m investment for Croydon. Parts of the academy, including its graduate and newly qualified social worker programmes, are funded by the Children’s Workforce Development Council.
The recruitment drive included a pay rise for social workers, which Croydon also hopes will help retain staff as well. By October, the council has said it will have a vacancy rate of zero and caseloads will be “significantly below” 20 cases per social worker.
Dave Hill, executive director of children, young people and learners in Croydon, said the large investment would be worth it.
“We realised we would fall behind what others were achieving if we didn’t do something completely different,” he told Community Care at the launch. “After the Baby P case, we saw that there was a moment and that we needed to grasp it.”
Croydon’s children’s services have not been rated as particularly strong by inspectors: the council’s last comprehensive area assessment from Ofsted gave a rating of “adequate” and its latest unannounced inspection listed a number of areas for improvement.
Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, young people and learners, said the academy would work to counteract departmental shortcomings.
“What we’re trying to achieve is a motivated, freed-up workforce with high, professional standards,” he said. “The academy will be looking at every aspect of what it’s like to be a social worker. Everyone needs to move as quickly as they can in this direction.”
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