Council launches social work academy and vows to take up to 50 students on placement

Medway council in Kent is hoping to tackle the nationwide challenge of retaining high-quality social workers by offering a formal support structure

Social workers in supervision
Credit: Rex Features, posed by models

Medway council is today launching a new social work academy, which will aim to improve retention rates by offering trainee and qualified social workers better support and access to continuing professional development.

The academy will have several faculties including a student unit, which will take up to 50 social work students each year.

There will also be a faculty for newly qualified social workers, for early professional development and for developing social workers with at least three years’ experience.

The 50 student placements will be delivered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in partnership with the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University and several leading London universities.

Medway council said it would consider employing the students after they graduated, if they had the requisite capabilities and there were vacancies.

“The aim is to then grow this bank of talented social workers and develop them through their entire career,” said a spokesperson for the council.

The academy will also focus on training linked to continuous professional development for existing, more experienced social workers.

Barbara Peacock, director of children and adult services at Medway, said: “It is vital social workers have support and supervision during their first year and beyond and that is what the academy will do.

“It will provide the opportunity for newly qualified social workers to develop essential skills in a learning environment to deal with the demanding area of adult and child social work. Not only that, but these graduates will in turn show the next generation of graduates the way forward.”

A recent survey by the Local Government Association found nearly 65% of councils in England had experienced difficulty in recruiting social workers and nearly half had experienced challenges in staff retention.

David Shemmings, professor of child protection research at the University of Kent, who will attend today’s launch event, said: “Social workers face enormous pressures when trying to support families and protect children.

“The value of an academy is that it offers them the time to learn new skills and digest contemporary research, away from the stresses of their daily work.”

More from Community Care

One Response to Council launches social work academy and vows to take up to 50 students on placement

  1. Jen Abe April 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Dera Sir / madam,
    What a brilliant news today regarding total overhaul of the social care/ work system by taking up future aspirants, well done to the Medway council.
    May I ask though if someone like me with a postgraduate degree Leadership and health management would be given a chance to join up this batch of students undergoing training, as this has been my long time aspiration to contribute and make a difference in the services for children and family? I live in Ramsgate and would appreciate if someone in your team could furnish me with information on how to hopefully, become one of the team in the nearest future?
    have a brilliant day no matter the weather

    Jen.