Social work can be a rewarding but challenging career path – which is why Northamptonshire County Council is working hard to give its newly-qualified social workers the very best start in their career.
We launched our Social Work Academy, which has recently won high praise from the Government’s Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, last October as part of our commitment to recruiting the best-quality social workers to support families across Northamptonshire.
The Social Work Academy aims to recruit the best newly-qualified social workers by offering a year-long intensive training and support programme and a competitive salary.
Our first intake of newly-qualified social workers began their training in October and the graduates are benefiting from reduced caseloads, hands-on learning, high levels of support and mentoring, and extensive training and qualification opportunities.
Former youth worker Michael Ogunjinmi, who moved from London to take up a place at the Social Work Academy in Northampton, said: “I think joining the academy was the best thing I could have done because I had been applying for social worker jobs but my lack of experience was proving a barrier. This programme allows me to build on the experience I gained from my youth work and I believe there’s real scope for progression here.”
Danielle Henley, also a newly-qualified social worker, said: “The academy is helping me to start my career in the best possible way. We join with a little bit of experience from our degree and the programme enables us to grow and develop with practical support in order to be effective social workers for the benefit of families across Northamptonshire.”
Cllr Heather Smith, county council cabinet member for children’s services, says the aim is to make Northamptonshire a great place for work for newly-qualified social workers.
She said: “We recognise that the first year as a practicing children’s social worker can be a challenging time and we want to support staff through this early phase of their career.
“We are committed to training and developing our social care workforce and we hope our Social Work Academy will provide our new staff with the foundation for a long and rewarding career with Northamptonshire County Council.”
Graduates spend the first six months of the academy in a dedicated learning environment with a minimum of one day a week working within a social work team. For the second half of the programme, they are based mostly in the field with structured support from the academy.
Isabelle Trowler, England’s first Chief Social Worker for Children and Families appointed to champion the social work profession, visited the academy in April to find out more about the work being done to nurture the young talent and was impressed by our commitment to training and supporting our new recruits.
She said: “Visiting the Social Work Academy was fascinating. Newly established, it is truly innovative in its approach and has the potential to radically change how newly-qualified social workers are supported.
“Having received intensive on the job coaching, social workers spoke of their very positive experience and their readiness to take their next steps into practice. They are a great team with a strong focus on getting it right for children and families. I really want to come back and see how they get on.”
With the first cohort of graduates now working in the field with families across Northamptonshire, a new intake of newly-qualified social workers have just joined the academy to begin their post-graduate training.
Northamptonshire County Council recruits graduates to the academy twice a year. If you would like to find out more about starting your career in social work visit our Social Work Academy page.