Academics from the University of Bedfordshire have partnered with Luton Council’s Children’s Services department to launch a Social Work Academy, to help recruit and develop the next generation of social workers in Luton and the wider region.
Staff from the University’s School of Applied Social Studies have worked closely with the Children’s Services team at Luton Council to curate this new Academy with a strong focus on skills development.
Social workers play a crucial role within the community and the job can be extremely demanding. Luton Council and the University agree that it is essential that workers are able to access all the advice and support they need to give the very best professional care, and so the idea of the Social Work Academy was born.
Dr Lana Burroughs, Academic Portfolio Lead for Social Work at the University of Bedfordshire, said: “Luton Council is one of our valued employer partner agencies whose commitment to social work education has been unwavering over many decades. We are delighted to partner with them on the Social Work Academy and believe that this initiative will make a significant contribution to social work training and to the skills development of practitioners who will be able to make a difference to the lives of many people in the local community and beyond."
We are confident that this new venture will produce excellent, innovative social workers and creative change-makers, who will be committed to providing a quality service to those in need.
Working closely with lecturers and course leaders at Beds, the Social Work Academy will provide in-depth training, mentoring and will nurture those beginning their careers as social workers. It is hoped that this will set a pattern of satisfaction and trust with the programme, which will inevitably encourage long-term commitment to Luton Council and the people of the town.
Amanda Lewis, Corporate Director for Children, Families & Education at Luton Council, said “The aim of this exciting initiative is to support the recruitment, development and retention of not only our newly qualified social workers, but all of our staff across Children’s Services. This is a fantastic development within Luton and will help us to continue to support learning and effective practice, which is fundamental for us to make a difference for our children and families within Luton.
“The council is committed to supporting and helping children and families in order to give them the very best opportunity to thrive and develop. Social workers are an incredibly important part of that as they guide and assist – often in very challenging situations.”
The core goals of the Social Work Academy initiative are to:
Discussing how the Academy will complement students’ studies at the University of Bedfordshire, Chris Hemsley, Senior Lecturer in Social Work & Course Coordinator for the ‘Step Up to Social Work’ programme, said: “Together with the council, we will aim to offer not only excellent academic teaching, but also first rate practice placements and practitioner-lead skills sessions. I have been liaising with the council’s Social Work Academy team over the last few weeks and they will shortly be delivering a full Skills Day for our second year BSc Social Work students.
“In this training, the topic areas will focus on Safeguarding in Children and Families and also Adult Social Care, which will prove vital preparation for the students' upcoming 70 day placements, which start later this month.”
Among the top priorities for newly qualified social workers is a learning environment where they can be mentored on the job. A key part of the programme will be high quality practice development, supervisions and work based learning support through coaching and mentoring from the Academy’s Practice Educator and Practice Improvement Officer.
Head of the new Social Work Academy, Elaine Hughes, said: “When I first joined Luton Council, I worked as a social work assistant. I was encouraged by colleagues and managers to apply for the Trainee in Employee Route of Social Work training and gained a place on the course. Now with nearly twenty years of social work experience behind me, I can say that my experience of working in Luton has been extremely positive. Throughout my career Luton has offered a safe learning environment where people have always empowered me to take the next step to develop my career.
“I am absolutely committed to passing my positive experience of being a social worker in Luton and am convinced the Social Work Academy will be pivotal in developing the next generation of committed social workers in the town.”
Councillor Mahmood Hussain, Portfolio Holder for Children (Health and Wellbeing) at Luton Council, said: “It goes without saying that time, energy and investment in today’s children and families are at the heart of Luton’s ambitions. The creation of the Social Work Academy, with its emphasis on attracting and retaining the highest calibre of new social workers, will help enable us to help give a positive future to some of the most vulnerable families in the town.”
For information about Social Work courses and research opportunities at the University of Bedfordshire, visit the School of Applied Social Sciences.
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