£1m government funding takes social work training to new level

social work

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:53:00 GMT

‌The University will be part of the Government’s new Social Work Teaching Partnership scheme

social work A COMPUTER game enabling trainee social workers to immerse themselves in a wide range of challenging situations will be among the results of a Government-backed, million-pound partnership that includes the University of Huddersfield

The Departments of Health and Education have launched a major new policy of creating Social Work Teaching Partnerships that aim to raise standards of training in the social work profession by linking local authorities and universities.

Now, it has been announced that Huddersfield-based Kirklees Council is to take the lead in a large new partnership, alongside the University of Huddersfield – which has an established relationship with the Kirklees authority – plus Calderdale Council, the University of York, the City of York and North Yorkshire’s local authorities.

‌In its first phase, the new partnership and its £1 million funding will run until March 2018.  At the University of Huddersfield, senior figures in the social work division of the School of Human and Heath Sciences are making plans and will soon begin to recruit for new posts that will be created, including a number of lecturer-practitioners at the universities and practice-in-education consultants based at the local authorities.

David Croisdale-Appleby An important result of the partnership will a much-needed increase in the number of local authority work placements for social work students.  And an innovation at the University of Huddersfield will be an apprenticeship for a young adult who has recently left care.

“He or she will come and work at the University for 12 months, and have a really key role in the development of  our computer game and in providing service-user expertise across our courses – in terms of how we develop our curriculum – and interviewing students,” said  Kim Heanue, who is Subject Leader in Social Work.

‌The partnership will draw on the University’s established expertise in the design and development of serious computer games to be used as training aids.  For example, a game that addresses the issue of domestic abuse in the Caribbean has been under development.  A member of the team working on this is Principal Lecturer Gill Kirkman, Subject Leader in Social Work.

► Government adviser Professor Sir David Croisdale-Appleby was recently appointed as a visiting professor within Social Work at the University of Huddersfield.  Commenting on his appointment, Sir David said: “The community is clearly extraordinarily important to the University, and it is that symbiotic relationship that attracted me hugely to Huddersfield.”

Interactive Technology

Part of the funding from the Social Work Teaching Partnership will be used to create an immersive, interactive game that simulates a home visit by a social worker and the wide range of issues they might have to deal with.

Professor Brid Featherston “It will be used for both pre- and post-qualified students, as the accompanying teaching materials will allow the subject matter to deepen and become more complex.  It will simulate a number of home visits focussing on a number of complex issues across the life course,” said Ms Kirkman.

‌The game will adopt the “Think Family” approach, favoured by the Government, which aims to ensure that social workers are trained to deal equally effectively with both adults and children.  “It recognises is that people don’t live in isolation and that social workers work with whole families,” said Ms Heanue.

Brid Featherstone (pictured left), the University’s Professor of Social Work, said that the partnership would ensure that social work remained a buoyant subject area at Huddersfield.  She added that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in social work is one of the special strengths of the University and now there will be an opportunity to spread and embed this across the partnership.

Ms Kirkman commented that: “We also need local authorities to retain experienced staff, and they are more likely to do that if they offer a creative and innovative approach to CPD.”

A portion of the partnership funding will be used to support research, encouraging social workers to undertake Masters and PhD programmes.

Back to news index - December