The serious case review that followed showed that tragically these were not isolated incidents confined to one setting. Such shocking news clearly demonstrated an urgent need for a culture change in the quality of care provided to vulnerable adults. At Buckinghamshire New University we are committed to taking on and rising to that challenge.
The University is determined to play its part in raising standards to combat human rights abuses. Increasing awareness and boosting skills are fundamental, and in response we’ve introduced a Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding course. This is a post-qualifying, two-year part-time or one-year full time postgraduate degree.
It’s the only one of its kind in the UK to combine both adult and child safeguarding in one programme of study. The advantages of the course lies in the integration of both age groups, which traditionally are examined separately and therefore overlook the areas in common such as family work, mental health and those at the transition stage between both services.
Current students’ backgrounds include a range of working professionals such as teachers, nurses, midwives, police officers, doctors and social workers. Our MSc in Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding helps to provide the confidence to improve the quality of care and communication with vulnerable children and adults, and helps to boost students’ career prospects too.
The course provides in-depth study of the issues related to the causes of abuse, and the latest evidence-based knowledge and research in this important area. Students also critically analyse policy and practice models, identify challenges faced by the current safeguarding systems and learn from examples of best practice.
This course also builds on the University’s strong tradition in developing social workers’ skills through specific training materials, such as skills training on the Care Act 2014 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and in bringing people into social work through our master’s degree where we train prospective social workers to work with adults, children and in mental health
These routes feed into our Social Work Academy which we established in partnership with Buckinghamshire council and Aylesbury College in 2015.
Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker for Children and Families, described it as a “shining example of good collaboration between higher and further education and the local authority”.
The academy’s bedrock is working together as partners to identify solutions to address local skills shortages in social work, bringing our combined expertise to deliver results that provide a one-stop, employer-led, high quality social work academy for the training of social workers in Buckinghamshire.
Training includes Advanced Home Visiting, which makes use of a simulation suite to sharpen practitioners’ assessment and interviewing skills. We also offer a series of masterclasses for practitioners in diverse topics such as ‘listening to children’ and ‘working with men in children’s service – domestic abuse interventions and systems’. A number of different approaches to intervening in domestic abuse were shared and very well received by council officers and practitioners.
The Academy has created a clear ladder of progression for potential social work recruits and, as importantly, has maintained a focus on continual professional development for staff. Together, these contribute to both the supply and retention of social workers and the best outcomes for service users.
We at Bucks feel strongly that ongoing training and development is crucial to the professionalism of social work practitioners. We believe firmly that the MSc in Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding contributes greatly to the skill set and knowledge of all people working in a professional capacity with children and adults and we are proud to see the course going from strength to strength.
Dr Sinclair Coward, Associate Head of School, School of Health Care and Social Work, Bucks New University