Ms Sarah Wilkins


I am a registered Social Worker and qualified Practice Educator with over 20 years social work experience in front-line child protection practice; adoption work, working with young people leaving care and within fostering services .

I started work as a part time lecturer while still in practice in 2016 at the University of Brighton, teaching on the Youth Work degree, Social Work qualifying programmes and within Early Years training. In 2018 I began working full time as a Social Work Lecturer at the University of Brighton, from 2020 - 2023 I was the Course Leader on the BSc Social Work course at Brighton.

I have taught across all qualifying courses focusing on reflective skills and application to practice and taken a lead role in developing the practice learning opportunities across the Social Work courses, working closely with colleagues from partner Universities, local authorities and the private and voluntary sector.

In December 2023 I started a new role at Kingston University primarily teaching on the Step Up course.

Academic responsibilities

Senior Lecturer


  • 1996 MSW Social Work University of Sussex
  • 2010 PG Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education University of Brighton
  • 2010 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy award
  • 1996 Diploma in Social Work, Sussex University
  • 2000 Practice Teacher Award, Chichester University
  • 2003 Post Qualifying Award, Chichester University
  • 2003 Child Care Award, Chichester University
  • 1989 BA Hons Drama, Theatre and Television, Winchester University.

Teaching and learning

I am passionate about social work and the importance of learning from each other and the people we work with. I am interested in the notion of a ‘community of practice' and how learning and experience can come together. I draw on my personal values of being anti discriminatory and inclusive to ensure students are motivated and empowered to learn within the classroom. I aim to create a safe space where students  feel respected, valued and confident to share their views, personal experiences and reflections on their practice which enables deeper learning and fosters positive relationships between students.  This process can appear straight forward, however to achieve a level of ‘deeper learning' we need to be open to new experiences and a willingness to make mistakes. Critical reflection and exploration of knowledge and activity is key.

In a nutshell: Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly'. (Wenger circa 2007)

My approach to teaching aims to provide students with space to consider problem solving and reflection as central processes. This is often through small group work  and group learning activities, but also via group supervision in practice. I am keen to engage students with real Social Work practice scenarios and explore skill development in preparation for practice and beyond.

I am currently involved in exploring the experience and influence of practitioner vulnerability in child protection social work practice.

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


Recent Research and Consultancy:

June 2012: Consultant evaluation of a Youth Club in Newhaven, East Sussex.

Wilkins, S., Bragg, S and Brighton and Hove City Council's Youth Service. (2013) 'Distance Travelled: researching an instrument to measure the impact of the Brighton and Hove Youth Service 1:1 Support Programme'.

September 2016: Action Research Project: Group Supervision in Social Work Practice Learning 

June 2021:The Working with Young Men project was commissioned as a result of concern among local statutory and non-statutory services regarding the wellbeing, safety, risk and life opportunities of young men in the city.  

June 2021 – July 23 ongoing current research project: Exploring use of self in practice - what role is played by vulnerability in engagement with service users?


Dore, I. Teverson P. and Wilkins, S. "Practitioner Vulnerability in Children and Families Social Work Identity, Impact and Implications." July 2023. To be published by the British Journal of Social Work. 

N. Edmond & M. Price Eds. ‘Integrated working with children and young people: supporting development from birth to nineteen'. 2012. Sage. ( 2 chapters co written).