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Waterside role proves the right move for social media savvy lecturer

Date 6.08.2019

The University’s mission statement to be ‘future focused’ and utilise new technologies is being thoroughly embraced by a lecturer who is an expert in professionals use of social media.

Jenny Simpson joined the University in early May as Senior Lecturer in Social Work. Her teaching at the University will focus on research and dissertation supervision for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

She joins Northampton from the Open University where she held a number of regional academic roles, before her final post there as the OU’s Head of Social Work for England. Her time there saw her focus on social work apprenticeships, validation with the social work regulator the Health and Care Professions Council and developing an induction programme for students on postgraduate and undergraduate social work programmes.

Jenny’s background is in research and she has just finished her PhD with the University of Edinburgh about children in care and their use of mobile communication devices and the internet for contact with their familial and friendship networks.

Her interest in how social workers use social media is something she hopes to cover with her Northampton students and is something she has written about and also spoken about previously, taking part in a podcast with leading social work publication Community Care (subscribers can listen again here).

Of her appointment, Jenny said: “For undergraduate students taking research modules, there will be a real focus on practice and enabling them to exercise skills such as analysis, synthesis and engagement with wide literature and critical thinking – not just reading something, but seeing it from  different perspectives and critiquing what they read. I want them to come out of their degree with a wide understanding of how research can inform social work practice on a daily basis.

“For those students who produce a very good dissertation, I and others as part of the Social Work teaching team, will work with them to get their work published in academic journals so that when they graduate, they already have this under their belt already and give their employability that extra nudge.”

Even with the recent heatwave, Jenny is still happy about her move to the University: “Waterside is glorious and looks even more so bathed in the sun, but I’ve been spending a bit more time in the cool indoors! I don’t mind because I enjoy being here, it’s a really lovely working environment. The open office means I can liaise with a huge number of other disciplines which is really helpful and leads to some interesting conversations.”

In her youth, Jenny had a brush with a household name who made quite an impression on her: “This is going back a few, pre-social work years, but as a teenager I worked for John Lewis in their flagship Oxford Street store. I was based in the lighting department and one day Moira Stewart, the BBC newscaster came in and I was quite taken aback!

“I saw the odd recognisable face, but she was the biggest name for me. She was looking for a lampshade of a particular colour and wanted some advice and I found it for her. She actually came in twice and was very down to earth, knew what she wanted and trusted me to help her – the perfect customer!”

Find out more about studying social work (undergraduate) at the University of Northampton.

Find out more about the University’s Master’s in Social Work.