Equipping social workers with the skills needed to progress in their career

COMPASS interviewed three members of the new Social Work Academy in 2019 who had received a programme of tailored support, learning and challenge aimed at preparing them to become best social workers they can be for Coventry’s children.

31/10/20

Equipping social workers with the skills needed to progress in their career

Coventry City Council’s innovative Social Work Academy recognises the crucial role that continuing professional development plays

“After leaving the British Army in 2015 I was at a loss in what direction I wanted to go next in my career so I began volunteering in children’s residential homes. I really enjoyed this, I felt as though I could relate to the young people as I was brought up in deprived area and I was able to pass on my life experience for positive change.

“The academy has given me the chance to develop different areas of expertise in children’s social work. My passion is with working with looked-after children, therefore in the academy my workload has been predominantly with this service user group however I have been able to complete children and families’ assessments, hold child in need cases and complete parenting assessments. If I was not in the academy I would not have been given the opportunity to experience such diverse work.

“Coventry City Council has developed a career path which exceeds my expectations. I understand my next steps and how the role changes and I know that as I progress there will be a requirement to support colleagues like myself who are just setting out!

“The culture in the team is good, we work alongside the managers and experienced social workers, this is great because we are able to seek support if needed. In addition, our peers are very supportive we often offer regular support to each other formally and informally.”

Joshua Burnall, Newly Qualified Social Worker

“I was really excited about starting my career as a social worker. I was so happy with the fact that I started together with other people who just finished their degrees and were in the same situation as myself. We had a lot of sessions where we could get to know everyone, including management and experienced social workers.

“We get a lot of chances to work on our cases using Signs of Safety model which is the primary framework we use when working with families. I find this model very useful to use as it gives me the clarity I need to work with families.

“Shadowing practitioners during different visits and meetings, which I myself will soon be expected to chair. Everyone is different and has different styles of practice. It is really great to be able to learn from different practitioners and to see how they approach their families and issues. This enables me to reflect on my own practice and see what approach I should be taking and build my confidence as I progress through my ASYE.

“I receive a lot of support. My first point of contact is my Social Work Academy manager Helen, who is really experienced and approachable and always finds time for myself and others. Beside that there is number of experienced social workers that I feel free to discuss any issues with on daily basis. I also receive frequent one-to-one supervisions and group supervisions where we come as a group to discuss confidentially our cases and to see what would be the best practice.”

Anita Pawlak, Newly Qualified Social Worker

“Being an experienced social worker in the academy, has benefitted my skills in professional leadership and practice education. I have modelled good practice, and had to step back and be able to explain my thinking, and why I have approached situations in the way that I have.

“I have received excellent support from the management and senior management team, both through informal and formal supervision. I have also received peer support from the other experienced social workers within the academy, challenging each other’s thinking through reflective conversations, and learning from each other’s experience and practice.

“I have developed my skills as a researcher in practice, undertaking a piece of Action Research with the academy, in order to aid in the development of the model. I have further developed my role as a Signs of Safety Practice Lead, as well as setting up and chairing the Direct Work Champions Group, sharing good examples of direct work with children and young people.

“The academy has helped me to develop my leadership skills, and as a result I am hoping to move into a more senior role in the near future.”

Hannah Bedford, Experienced Social Worker

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