Starting your first job in children’s social work can be a daunting prospect, but Northamptonshire County Council’s Social Work Academy gives graduates the support they need to begin their career with confidence.
For newly-qualified social workers Danielle Henley and Louise Coley, joining Northamptonshire County Council was an easy decision to make.
While their university classmates were thrown straight into work with caseloads of their own, Danielle, Louise and the other graduates at the Social Work Academy benefited from six months of intensive support and training before taking on their own cases.
Louise, 25, from Gloucestershire, said: “I chose to come and work in Northamptonshire because it seemed like a really supportive environment for newly-qualified social workers.
“I was in care myself as a child and had a very positive experience, and I wanted to give that experience to other young people in need of support.
“Going into your first social work job after your training is very daunting, but with the academy you have a whole team behind you to set you on the right path.”
Danielle, 26, has relocated from south Buckinghamshire to join Northamptonshire County Council. She said: “I was offered a number of different placements when I finished university but the more research I did, the more Northamptonshire felt right for me.
“As one of the first intake at the new academy, it was exciting to be part of a pioneering project and to be at the forefront of the transformation of children’s services here. It really is something special to be a part of.”
The Social Work Academy’s inaugural graduates have just completed their first year with Northamptonshire County Council and still receive support from the academy now they are based in the field and managing their own cases.
“Northamptonshire is a really good place to be,” says Danielle. “It is very diverse and has a nice city vibe. It definitely got me off to the right start.
“I often go back to the academy leaders and talk to them about a difficult visit or a tough day. It’s incredibly helpful and it really makes you feel valued.”
When Northamptonshire County Council launched the Social Work Academy in October 2014 in partnership with shared service organisation LGSS, it was part of the authority’s aim to recruit the best-quality social workers to support families across Northamptonshire.
Now the third intake of graduates are about to start their training with the academy and they too will benefit from reduced caseloads, hands-on learning, high levels of support and mentoring, and extensive training and qualification opportunities.
Cllr Heather Smith, county council cabinet member for children’s services, says the newly-qualified social workers are already making a difference to families in Northamptonshire.
She said: “I’m delighted with the impact our Social Work Academy is having on both the new recruits and the families they work with.
“We’re just about to welcome our third intake of graduates to the academy and we look forward to building our growing contingent of newly-qualified social workers who have chosen to start their careers with us.
“We are committed to training and developing our social care workforce and we are already seeing how our Social Work Academy is providing new staff with the foundation for a long and rewarding career with Northamptonshire County Council.”