Graduates invited to ‘Step Up’ to Social Work

Fri 26 March, 2021
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The University of Bedfordshire will be hosting an online Open Event to showcase a new postgraduate programme designed to help train the next generation of social workers.

Run by the University’s School of Applied Social Studies in partnership with the UK government, the 14-month ‘Step Up to Social Work’ programme is aimed at graduates who wish to change their career path or want to develop their existing skills and industry knowledge.

Upon completing the programme, trainees will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, enabling them to register and begin to practice in the rewarding and life-changing field of social work.

Funded through bursaries awarded by the Department for Education, successful applicants will receive intensive, real-life practitioner experience through placements with local authority partners. A variety of regional placements will be available with the University’s Step Up South East and Central Eastern partners across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Dr Lana Burroughs, Academic Portfolio Lead for Social Work, hopes this programme will entice new talent to join the profession. She said:

Dr Lana Burroughs“I encourage applicants to come and join us at the University of Bedfordshire for excellent, fast-track social work training via the Step Up programme. We offer an innovative curriculum that facilitates the building of skills and knowledge which is important for social work practice involving children and families today.

“Social Work is a rewarding profession that provides you with opportunities to promote social justice while working in partnership with others. It places you in a position to assist others to make positive changes in their lives, and gives you the chance work in a range of settings where the challenges of today are different from those of tomorrow. It’s an enjoyable and diverse career path that has the wellbeing of people at its heart.”

Described as an opportunity ‘earn while you learn’, the government will cover the students’ tuition fees as well as providing a tax-free bursary of £19k to cover living expenses over the duration of the Step Up To Social Work programme. It is hoped this unique incentive will encourage students to ‘step up’ to the chance to upskill or start a new career, allowing them to focus fully on their studies and allocated placement.

Prospective postgraduates who are interested in applying to Bedfordshire’s Step Up programme are invited to join a free Open Event on 29th March between 9:30–10:30am. This virtual event, hosted in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council, will give applicants a chance to ask questions about the course, placements and hear about current Step Up students’ experiences.

Chris HemsleyChris Hemsley, Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Course Coordinator for the Step Up programme, said: “Step Up to Social Work offers students a unique opportunity to qualify as a Social Worker in 14 months, with a generous bursary paid throughout the qualifying period. 

“I implore those curious about the course to join our online Open Event on 29th March, where they will get to meet the South East Partnership Local Authority partners and current Social Work students. There will be a short presentation about the course and an opportunity to chat with staff and ask questions.”

Sign up to the Open Event by emailing:  

Social Work is both a challenging and rewarding career through which people can make a real difference for vulnerable children and families. Successful applicants will need to be good listeners and show patience, which are vital for learning how to build relationships with families facing difficult times. Applicants will also need good observational skills, analytical thinking and sound judgement to make the right decisions and protect children. Social work regularly tests resilience, stamina, and resolve – all of which applicants will need to succeed.

David 'Alfie' AppletonDavid ‘Alfie’ Appleton, is a current Step Up trainee on placement in Oxfordshire. He previously worked in finance and data analytics, but after ten years he decided he wanted to change his career to focus on supporting people.

He said: “Applying to the course is one of the best decisions I ever made. The Step Up programme at the University of Bedfordshire is brilliant – it’s intense and hard work but it’s rewarding, and the support from academic staff is always there. My advice to anyone applying is to throw yourself into the programme and embrace all the learning opportunities it offers.”

Talent MawondoTalent Mawondo was one of the first Step Up trainees to be put on placement during the Covid-19 pandemic, which she said was challenging but very rewarding. A Psychology & Counselling graduate, Talent previously worked in mental health and was attracted to the Social Work profession through the inspirational people she met during her job.

She said: “I admired the positive impact some of the social workers I worked with had on people which made me want to become one too. Some of the things which attracted me to the Step Up programme at the University of Bedfordshire was the length and practical-based structure of the course – the bursary also helped me and my family tremendously as I didn’t have to worry about bills and other costs.

“My advice to applicants is that although the Step Up course can be demanding and may require you to make some adjustments to your lifestyle, it’s only for 14 months so it’s well worth it in the end.”

Applications for the next Step Up to Social Work programme close at midday on Wednesday 7th April 2021. Successful students can expect to start the programme in January 2022 and will complete their training in March 2023. For more information about the University’s Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, including entry criteria, visit:

Apply directly via the Department for Education:


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