A groundbreaking academy for newly qualified social workers at Hertfordshire Council was opened today by Lord Laming.
New recruits in children’s services will receive a 30% reduction in caseloads and fortnightly supervision in their first year of practice before entering frontline teams.
Support from experienced staff
They will be supported by a team of five managers and two experienced practitioners across sites in Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead.
The first year’s intake of 30 newly-qualified staff start today, and although this does not cover the full amount of newly qualified staff at the council, the council plans to widen access to all recruits in future.
Response to Laming report
Hertfordshire Council said the project, billed as the first of its kind in the country, was a direct response to a recommendation in Lord Laming’s national review of child protection in England, published in March. The report said all newly-qualified practitioners should be able to “develop their skills and confidence…in a relatively safe learning environment whilst still having exposure to children in complex and difficult circumstances”.
Laming praises council
At a launch event in Stevenage, Laming said: “Hertfordshire Council deserves great credit for pioneering this academy for newly qualified staff. This initiative will promote both the competence and confidence of these key workers and, most of all, will ensure a high quality of services to the general public. I wish it great success.”
BASW calls for inclusion of adult services
The initiative received a cautious welcome from the British Association of Social Workers.
Tim Chittleburgh, BASW chair, called the approach “innovative”, but queried why it was only available to children’s social workers.
He added: “Calling what is basically a NQSW unit an ‘academy’ is an interesting spin, but anything that provides newly qualified social workers with a clear structure in which to extend their knowledge and develop their skills over the first year of practice has to be applauded.”
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Children’s Workforce Development Council NQSW programme