Posted Friday 31 March 2023
The first cohort from a new Kingston University programme, which aims to help people without previous social work degrees become highly qualified social workers in just 14 months, has just graduated.
The Step Up to Social Work course, which was launched at Kingston University in January 2022 in partnership with Achieving for Children and Sutton Council, gives students the opportunity to combine theory and skills taught in class with a 170-day placement spread out over the 14-month course. "I've really enjoyed the opportunity to be able to do a degree and have a professional job at the same, which is genuinely interesting, fulfilling and something I'm passionate about," said Isaac Snow, who has just finished the programme.
Prior to enrolling, Isaac studied philosophy and history and worked for charity organisations. He decided the Step Up to Social Work course was a natural development of his career and transition to social work. During his studies Isaac did a placement at Sutton children's services, which provides support to children and young people, including social care, adoption, fostering and childcare.
Another graduate, Hannah Dwommoh, completed her placement at Achieving for Children, a not-for-profit organisation in the Royal Borough of Kingston, where her first placement was in the referral and assessment department and then moved to work with children with disabilities. Hannah is a 43-year-old mother of three, who previously worked in childcare for many years. She was fascinated with the field of social work and the opportunity to join the Step Up programme but feared that she would not be able to manage her course work, placement, and take care of her family.
"My background is in nannying and childminding, and I just did not think that would be enough to get me on the course," said Hannah. "But once I was accepted to the university, it was really good. It was not easy and sometimes overwhelming especially with family at home, but I did it. The key is to organise and manage your time effectively and not to put everything off until the last minute."
"The programme is really well structured," said Isaac. "The first two months of it are spent in the classroom, where university prepares, nurtures, and gives you confidence, so that you want to go into the placement. Then once you have done that first placement you come back, and you have one month for the debrief and to reflect on your experience and share it among your peers and learn from others".
One of the aims of the programme is to bring and incite diversity within the profession by encouraging applications from under-represented groups in the field, including men and candidates from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
"We are making sure that our course is open to everyone and that it is diverse and represents our society as best as it can," says Sue Lansley, Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Social Care at Kingston University.
After completing the course, the students have a chance to continue their work and get permanent positions at their placement organisations. Isaac is planning to continue working full-time for Sutton Council in a new role once his registration comes through, while Hannah is thinking about taking a role at the referral and assessment team after experiencing different departments at Achieving for Children.
"I cannot recommend this program enough to everybody," said Isaac. "It equips you with the ability to analyse risks, work in the multi-agency setting, be confident in presentations, professional settings and public speaking."
Step Up to Social Work is a Department for Education (DfE) initiative, which also provides tax-free bursaries of £19,833 for the duration of the programme as well as payment of course fees for successful applicants. The current application deadline for the course beginning in January 2024 is closing on 3 April 2023.