The Social Work Learning Academy (SWLA) was originally developed and implemented in July 2016 initially with a membership of 40 ‘s75’ Adult Mental Health social care colleagues. Roll out of core membership has proved hugely successful over the previous 2 years following the merger of South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust (SSSFT) and Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust (SSOTP) to become Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MPFT). Consequently a total of 423 members/associate members including our non-professionally regulated workforce have joined the SWLA.
In real terms; since inception the SWLA has provided 356 ‘My Time’ continuing professional staff development panels, 147 specifically related to SSOTP colleagues who were prioritized in relation to information garnered from their SWLA checklist and service priorities. Additional panels, including access to the knowledge based SWLA sharepoint site are now booked throughout the year with the aim of offering accessibility to professional development, policy, practice and supportive guidance alongside Principal Social Worker discussions.
Incredibly, the SWLA has now received 469 individual ‘expressions of interest’ from staff members identifying their wishes and aspirations for on-going personal and professional development support from the SWLA via their enrolment checklists. Consequently, and in responding to staff requests the SWLA aims to increase support to both the qualified and non-professionally qualified workforce including; enabling routes into professional social work qualification as part of our ‘grow your own’ initiative. As professional qualification and development were key themes in both the enrolment checklist and during ‘My Time’ feedback, the SWLA has now implemented multiple routes in which to access development including the professional Social Work Qualification.
Consequently ensuring skill mix within social care capacity, a comprehensive training needs analysis has provided a robust programme of learning and development where the SWLA ‘offer’ has included a highly successful programme of;
· 12 trainee ‘Think Ahead’ social workers are currently being supported
within Adult Mental Health on the Fast Track social work degree programme.
· A further 6 trainee ‘Think Ahead’ social workers are due to commence with the Trust on 1st September 2020.
· 6 Consultant Social Worker Posts have been implemented to support the programme.
· 2 Consultant Social Work Practice Educator posts have been introduced, one to lead on the growing Assessed and Supported Year in Employment Programme (ASYE), and one for Apprenticeships. Both roles also support the overall student initiative.
· 8 Older people/Physical disability (OP/PD) social care staff are currently being supported on the inaugural Apprenticeship Degree in Social Work programme.
· 5 OP/PD social care staff are being supported to conclude their Degree in social work training via distance learning.
· 11 OP/PD social care staff are being supported to achieve their levels 3 – 5 apprenticeships and the SWLA will retain an active interest in this group of staff with a view to them continuing their progress to undertaking the degree in Social Work.
Future training is already mapped out over the next 2 years and an analysis of feedback from ‘My Time’ panels suggests the Trust can now be confident of a highly engaged, energized and inspired workforce who values this investment in their careers.
Karen Nixon, Principal Social Worker, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust