Fast-track social work programme opens for applications

The fifth cohort of the Step up to Social Work scheme will take on 550 graduates

Photo: zinkevych/fotolia

A government-backed fast-track training scheme for social workers has opened for applications.

The Step Up to Social Work programme, will take on 550 graduates for its fifth cohort, which starts in January 2018. Applications close on 5 May.

Trainees on the 14-month course receive a bursary of more than £19,000 and have their tuition fees paid. The minimum entry requirement is a 2:1 degree or a 2:2 degree plus a higher level qualification. The course is delivered by regional partnerships of councils and universities.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson said the scheme offered a “fantastic opportunity” for people to enter social work and help children and families.

“We want all young people to be able to go as far as their talents will take them, and part of that is making sure childhood is a happy and safe time in their lives.

“I have been inspired by previous graduates of the programme, and I’m sure this year will be no different. I look forward to meeting the next generation of social workers who will be transforming children’s lives.”

Isabelle Trowler, the chief social worker for children, said: I know from my own experience what a challenging and fulfilling career child and family social work is, and I’m pleased to see that this programme is encouraging more people to consider it.

“Programmes like this one are attracting hundreds of talented graduates each year, who could make a real difference to the lives of children and families.”

The government has previously said it wants 3,000 children’s social workers have qualified through fast-track routes by 2021. Ministers are investing £100m in Step up to Social Work and the Frontline fast-track programme in a bid to meet the target.

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20 Responses to Fast-track social work programme opens for applications

  1. Lyssa Myall March 29, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    Is this for newly qualified social workers?

    • Muzamil March 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

      can you please give me more information on this as I would like to get on the fast track I am working with children looked after and have a 2.1 degree in social policy and NVQ level 4 amongst other qualifications. can you please send me more info.
      thank you
      M Ally

  2. Manzar iqbal March 29, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

    Where is the location for the programme to take place?

    How does one go about applying?


    Manzar Iqbal BA (Hons) DMS MBA

    • Natalie Valios
      Natalie Valios March 29, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

      Here’s a link to the application process.

  3. Joe Z Mairura March 29, 2017 at 2:31 pm #


    A heartfelt cry of despair.

    We are losing control of our Profession right in front of our eyes…

    …I repeat “OUR PROFESSION”

    Every man woman and their dog seems to think they have the right to have a view on who we are, what we should do, how we do it, how we should be trained, practice, organised etc.

    NO they DON’T and shouldn’t

    I don’t know of a fast-track programme for Doctors, Nurses, OTs, and the rest of the family of therapists and all the other health affiliated professionals; or any other profession for that matter. I bet you if there was as much a mention of such an idea, there would would be a massive outcry, objections and very firm resistance to the the very idea, up down and across said professions and their professional bodies .

    Why this profession?

    Are we that second class a profession that other professions along with others least qualified, knowledgeable, I’d even go as far as suggesting incompetent, are allowed and feel able to
    comment on or determine our Professional destiny…

    NO we are NOT.

    We are a Profession on an equal footing with any other profession. We undergo a prescribed form of training that enables us to be ” licensed to Practice” . Yes licensed

    WE are letting this happen.. and we must bare some responsibility for it….
    …Unconformable or unfair as this is going to sound, I’m going to ‘SHOUT’ it loud and clear.

    “WE ARE THE CAUSE THE EFFECT(the current state of our profession)..


    But rather than this sounding negative an defeatist, it is in fact the very opposite.. it makes us very powerful; because it means we take on the responsibility for the destiny of our profession

    It’s a choice ,,, Yours and Mine.. OUR Collective choice – to take back control of our profession and our professional destiny

    No one is going to do it for us.

    We need a “Conscious” Professional leadership

    Where is real Social Work leadership when we need it ?

    We need a Visionary Leadership, a Professional Leadership… NOT an Association

    A Social Work Professional Body… not some quango set up by someone else.. some government with the advice of people who are completely ‘IGNORANT’ of what the Social Work Profession actually is or what a Social Worker actually is or does…. Not some ‘arms length ignorant and misinformed and opinionated perceptions of what we actually do

    We need that leadership NOW, TODAY…please

    I’m not seeing it.. I am not feeling it.. I’m not hearing it

    Leadership from within the profession, from within Social Work Academia, from within Social Work practice… Representative leadership

    Leadership by Social Workers for Social workers, by a Social Work Professional Body not some imposed cobbled together quango

    NOT a leadership ” sleepwalking’ our profession to oblivion; not a leadership “asleep at the wheel of the social work profession car” but one that is “conscious,visionary an truly present”

    While this is my cry of despair, I’m angry too; that we have let our profession get to this point.

    Please let us claim back our profession before we get to a point of no return

    It’s wake up call time

    Firstly, apologies for any typing bloomers, I wrote this rather fast..and my fingers have a way of
    hitting keys they shouldn’t!

    Secondly, I have used capitals in places I have done this purposefully for emphasis

    And lastly, I have been pretty blunt in places in this piece. I stand by every word I have said.

    There is a profession’s identity, integrity and future existent at stake here.

    I’m happy for Community Care or anyone else to contact me directly if you need to.

    Joe Z Mairura

    • Liss March 29, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

      Brilliant piece. Good for you. I totally agree with you. I studied hard for three years for my degree and dipsw diphe but because I adopted my child and took time out to be a parent this health registration organjsation is making me do 60,days top up training. I was a senior social worker and practiced unqualified for eight years then 12 qualified . it’s infuriating and no wonder excellent qualfied experienced social workers are coming away from the profession or just not wanting to return. I seriously dont want to but have to. The whole system is a mess and I do not Agree in a fast track process at all. It’s a joke.

    • Andy March 29, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

      This route should not been seen as taking away our professional identity, it’s just different.
      I’ve seen some of the most caring and skilled practitioners come through the “fast track” and they are held to the same high standards all SW routes are.
      I would contend that this route actually is allowing social work to recruit mature recruits who otherwise would not be able to leave a job or career behind to join our profession.

      Give them a chance and if your interested go for it.

      • Nicola March 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

        Thanks Andy. I was in the first cohort of Step Up Students and it is exactly as you said. I had a successful career in a related field but really wanted to be a social worker – without the Step Up programme I would never have been able to afford the time (due to working full-time) or the money to achieve my goal.

        I went through a very rigorous recruitment process, including a full assessment centre – more than most people go through to get on a usual degree programme! I completed a Masters academic programme within 18 months, whilst also still completing 200 days of placement – that meant that I had to be extremely disciplined and focused. I admit I did have very good placements which gave me first-hand experience of social work within a statutory setting, and this really complimented the academic learning and helped to develop my practical skills. It also really helped me to get a job at the end of the programme.

        To be very honest, there were elements of the academic side of the programme that were not that useful, but the Step-Up programme as a whole was great and I would recommend it to anyone who is seriously considering a career change to social work. Although a word of advice … it is very, very intensive so be prepared for 14 months of very hard work and very long days.

    • jo March 31, 2017 at 6:23 am #

      Teachers have fast track training and the professionals we recruit are very welcome.

    • Sam April 11, 2017 at 9:39 am #

      There are fast track graduate programmes for all of the professions you reference. Nursing, medicine, Occupational Therapy etc. -all offer a shorter training to graduates of other disciplines with other relevant experience. No public outcry on this, to the best of my knowledge.
      I hear your frustration at changes in the profession, but opening access to people with a great deal of professional experience in relevant fields who want to move into social work isn’t all bad surely? It could be argued that they are better prepared after potentially 20 years experience in a similar field, than a 21 year old with an undergraduate degree and little other experience. I think a mix of both would be complementary.

  4. Dancer March 29, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    Article in the Guardian last week quoted that 56% of people think that a social worker is someone who helps you with the shopping. Anybody can do that!

  5. Sophia March 29, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    What about the hundreds of newly qualified social workers who can’t obtain employment because they did not have a statuary placement in their third year.

  6. Rosemary Stokes March 30, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    Where. 8s your home base.?

  7. Chris March 30, 2017 at 6:45 am #

    Absolute joke more inexperienced social workers to be let loose with no experience of life. This is not the answer!

    • Sam April 11, 2017 at 9:27 am #

      Chris, I hear your frustration, but on the matter of life experience, surely this route opens the profession to graduates with lots of life experience who would otherwise be unable to afford the shift in professions due to financial restraints?
      What if their first degree is relevant and they have many years of valid transferable experience? Could it not be that they have valuable knowledge and experience that would enhance a SW team?
      Teaching has fast track entry, and both nursing and medicine run courses where graduates from other disciplines can train over a shorter time scale. I think it may do the opposite and open the profession to a group of professionals with varying life and work experience.

    • Pammy April 17, 2017 at 11:58 pm #

      Chris I understand your concerns about the intake through the programme, but I also think you need to think beyond the obvious! I am considering applying for the step up programme and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with me! With a background of teaching and CAMHS I think I do have the attributes of becoming a successful social worker more so than a young undergraduate with no life experience, resilience or forward thinking. If I’m successful in applying I and many others will be needing your support to nurture and develop my practise, so I can support and protect those in need! So rather than looking at the negatives see it as an opportunity to strengthen the profession.

  8. Fiona Harvey March 30, 2017 at 8:20 am #


    As a qualified social worker since 2013 with a BA hons, I am shocked and disgusted that this program has been implemented!

    Our profession should be valued, respected and recognised for the complex and delicate work we do, not disregarded as skills easily learnt on a 14 month course thrown together to increase social worker numbers. All this course is going to do is produce ill prepared social workers with minimum and limited understanding of the theoretical approaches and frameworks that inform our practice and our work with children.

    I couldn’t be more confused about how the government want to introduce extra assessments of qualified social workers to ensure they require the skills to practice effectively and identify individual workers who lack required skills and knowledge in order to improve the quality social work but rush through novist social workers in 14 months!

    All in all, my initial concerns to this kind of social work training is that the ONLY people who are going to suffer are the vulnerable children, young people and adults we suppprt and they deserve so much better!

    Fiona Harvey

  9. Rudo March 31, 2017 at 1:37 am #

    Are international students welcome to this course?

  10. Toni Williams March 31, 2017 at 2:15 am #

    Where will this program be held? What school will it be through if you go to class online?


  11. Toni Williams March 31, 2017 at 2:36 am #

    Interested in in the program.. Where will it be held on campus or online? The name of school?