Social Work Teaching Partnerships: an evaluation
A blog post by Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families).
When I started out as Chief Social worker for children and families seven years ago, I knew I wanted to put in place something similar to the concept of teaching partnerships. Namely a national strategic collaboration between
Local Authorities and Universities.
So it is with pride & satisfaction that the evaluation of teaching partnerships
concludes that their most important benefit has been the development of a
culture of collaborative working between Higher Education Institutions, Local
Authorities and other partners in the way social work education is designed,
planned and delivered.
It is very satisfying that I have been in post to watch as one of my ambitions
developed from idea to something that with the input, hard work and
dedication of many people has become a real success.
But none of this would have happened without the enormous efforts of
universities & local authorities and colleagues in the Department for Education,
So a big thankyou to everyone involved.
The three headlines that stand out for me are:
• More rigorous assessment and selection processes are now in place
for entry onto undergraduate and postgraduate social work
programmes in most partnerships; ensuring those who qualify as social
workers not only have the knowledge and skills, but also the values
and ethics which underpin our practice.
• Impressive increase in the provision of high-quality statutory
placements is reported by TPs across all phases. This has been one of
the hardest things for partnerships to have achieved and is crucial that
sufficient numbers of qualifying social workers understand what it
means to work in statutory practice. That early applied experience
helps people make the right choices for their working lives.
• We have seen greater embedding of the Knowledge and Skills
Statements (KSS); though I am also sure we need to do much more in
embedding the post qualification standards. It is essential that
whatever the knowledge and skills statements turn into in future years,
that we remember why it is important that there is a post qualification
specialist standard that social workers must be able to demonstrate
that they can meet.
Every single social work report for the last 20 years has made this a
recommendation. Let us not lose sight of that.
The evaluation also shows that TPs have been a vehicle for change - bringing
partners together, has enabled them to more easily work together to engage
in other national initiatives, such as apprenticeships.
It is not just what those institutions do that matters - but it's also what they
symbolise. If an institution exists, it sends a signal of public value, of respect &
The fact that teaching partnerships have survived this long is indicative of the
current value of social work and how it is perceived and how the investment is
necessary. We must keep fighting for that.
Evidence of positive impact is so important and it's why this evaluation is so
valuable, but we have work to do.
We have a 3-year spending review coming up and we have just a few months
to prepare our best evidence to position teaching partnerships as something
that the government wishes to continue to fund.
I would love the future of teaching partnerships to include every single local
authority and every single provider of social work education.
There is work to do with the each of the regions to look at how we can build
on utilising economies of scale and build on the clear success that teaching
partnerships have had to date
So to end, once again, a big thank you to everybody involved. Great work.