South West Regional Step Up to Social Work Partnership offers rewarding careers in child and family social work

Graduates and career changers to child and family social work will be given hands-on training to become the next generation of social workers. This is part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs which is protecting, supporting and creating jobs across the country.

The South West Regional Step Up to Social Work Partnership which included BCP Council, Wiltshire Council and Dorset Council are opening the recruitment round for a total of 17 aspiring social workers to join the 14-month Step Up to Social Work programme, to provide training for hundreds more children and family social workers to support children and families most in need. We are working in partnership with Bournemouth University to deliver this locally in the region.

BCP Council will be taking on seven successful candidates.

This will be the fourth cohort of Step Up locally, and a total of 34 of those who enrolled have already qualified through the Step Up programme, with another 17 social work students due to qualify in March 2021. Step Up is backed by £25million from the Government to fund 700 places across the country, with students receiving a bursary of £19,833 over the duration of the programme to support them whilst in training.

Councillor Mike White, BCP Council Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People said:

"We are really pleased to be part of the ‘Step Up To Social Work’ programme, which is an excellent way for graduates to qualify in social work. We look forward to welcoming several new members to our team and working with them to make a real difference to the lives of children and families.”

Tim, a student from Bournemouth University who is hosted by BCP Council said:

“As well as qualifying during a worldwide pandemic, which was a feat in itself, a main highlight of the Step Up to Social Work programme has been the opportunity it has afforded me to really use and develop my existing skills. The fast-paced combination of academic work and placement learning has challenged me to dig deep and prove my capabilities.

“In particular, I was curious to see how I could begin to fit myself, as a man, into a profession which is female dominated, and how the children and families could benefit from this. Looking back, it's been quite a journey with many milestones along the way. I can honestly say that I am a different man, now, than the man I was when I began to tentatively write the first words on my application, many months ago.

“I have grown in confidence and have been told that I am finding the professional voice for children and families which motivated me, originally, to begin this journey with Step Up to Social Work.

“My hopes for the future are that I continue to develop and learn through my Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) with BCP Council, getting to play a meaningful part in the new phase of the organisation's development, and that I can continue to be supported to bring my experience to benefit children and families locally.

“Graduating from Step Up To Social Work will be the springboard I need to achieve this. To anyone thinking of applying, I'd say go for it! I hope you will get the chance, as I have now, to reflect back in the future, and say similar to me."

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said:

“This year has demonstrated more than ever the crucial role that social workers play in supporting the most vulnerable children and families in society. This is why we are continuing to focus on recruiting, developing and retaining the best. Training schemes like Step Up are open to recent graduates as well as those who left education some time ago, and they are helping to develop a new generation of talented social work professionals who make such a difference.

Initiatives such as Step Up also demonstrate our dedication to creating jobs and opportunities across the country as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs, as well as doing our upmost to protect those whose industries are facing pressure.”

Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, said:

“I have been impressed each year with the quality of the hundreds of graduates who qualify as social workers through the Step Up programme, and encouraged to see them start out on a long term career in social work. Our profession is highly challenging, but highly rewarding, and Step Up is developing a highly skilled workforce ready to make a genuine positive impact on people’s lives.”

This intensive, 14-month, full-time programme is for those without a degree in social work and who want to become a social worker. Students can expect to learn through a combination of academic study and real social work experience in a local authority. On completion, the Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work will enable graduates to register and practice as a social worker, making a difference by nurturing relationships with families during difficult times and by protecting children.

The Government is committed to making social work a career that more people can aspire to, and to make it a career that talented people with a sense of purpose can achieve.

More than 1,600 students have qualified through the Step Up programme nationally since 2010, and over 600 are set to complete in the spring.

We are looking for strong graduates who have experience of working with vulnerable children, young people, families or adults and who can demonstrate their maturity and emotional resilience.

In particular, the programme this year continues to encourage more applications from male and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic candidates, as we aspire to make the programme, and the profile of social work practitioners more diverse and representative of the families and communities being supported.

The Step Up programme runs every two years. Applications will open from 15 February to 7 April 2021, followed by regional assessment centres for candidates successful at the initial application stage. Students can expect to start the programme in January 2022, completing their training in March 2023.

Candidates are eligible to apply if they hold a minimum 2:1 level 6 degree qualification i.e. a honours degree or a graduate certificate; or a minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a postgraduate qualification (level 7 or above) for example, a Master’s degree or a Postgraduate Certificate/ Postgraduate Diploma, in a discipline other than social work. They should also have GCSEs in English or English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or the new grade 4 and above (or an approved equivalent). Candidates should also be able to demonstrate significant experience of either working or substantial volunteering with vulnerable children, young people and/or families/ carers or adults.

For further information and details of upcoming Information Sessions in March contact sutsw@bcpouncil.gov.uk