Working together more closely, collaboratively and constructively. The Social Work Teaching Partnership for Northamptonshire

Date 15.06.2022

Ensuring that social work students and social workers better meet the needs of people across Northamptonshire is at the heart of a new partnership.

Launched last week, members of the University of Northampton’s (UON) Faculty of Health, Education and Society, local authority leaders and senior social service personnel gathered at Waterside campus to introduce the Northamptonshire Social Work Teaching Partnership.

Social Work Teaching Partnership launch top table

UON Associate Dean Stev Wood, Cllr. Helen Harrison, Cllr. Jonathan Nunn and Colin Foster.

This new working arrangement will enhance existing work between the partners, spearhead the delivery of an enhanced and co-developed curriculum for UON’s Social Work programmes – keeping them current, innovative, and reflective of practice – and also mean social workers will have direct input into UON-delivered social work training programmes.

The Partnership will also see the development of collaborative research opportunities between the University and social service teams, to increase understanding and development of the profession.

Social Work Teaching Partnerships are Department of Education-led initiatives, and further benefits the Northamptonshire Partnership will create include:

  • Support statutory partner recruitment, retention and career development of social work qualified and non-social work qualified staff to enhance skills and knowledge requirements to develop them in their roles.
  • Enhance existing practices between the University and statutory authorities to develop support for service users across the county.
  • Partners will work closer together to further develop existing practices, such as placements for social work students.

The Social Work Teaching Partnership was ‘officially signed’ at Waterside by representatives of the University of Northampton, The Northamptonshire Children’s Trust, North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council.

Steve Wood, Associate Dean at the University of Northampton, introduces the Partnership: “Working closely, collaboratively, and constructively to make the social work students of today the social work professionals of the future to fully meet the needs of people in the community, is always front and centre of the University’s vision for social work.

“It’s something we share with our town and county partners, so joining forces with them for this new Social Work Teaching Partnership will help make sure these existing bonds are closer than before.

Steve Wood Social Work Teaching Partnership launce June 2022

UON Associate Dean Steve Wood signs his name to the main aims of the Social Work Teaching Partnership for Northamptonshire.

“This is not just a ‘flash in the pan’ initiative because we have an eye on the future and developing a lasting legacy. The Partnership will create the space for new and very compelling workstreams – such as carrying out research to help us delve deeper into social work, where it is and how it can be developed. This is very much the beginning of what we trust will be a very interesting, new period for the profession.

“Creating closer links within the partnership will allow us to build a mutual understanding of the needs of the local and regional community, how research can inform practice and how we can support the current workforce through training, career development as well as preparing the workforce of the future through the professionally regulated Social Work training programmes delivered at UON.

Colin Foster, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Children’s Trust, said: “The social work teaching partnership is a fantastic opportunity, and I am delighted that Northamptonshire Children’s Trust is part of such an important initiative.

“The teaching partnership is pivotal to supporting our vision to put children, young people and families at the heart of all we do.

“For me, the key thing is that this is a local partnership, benefitting local employees, employers, students and in turn the wider community. Social work students benefit from training and development, our own qualified social workers can share their practice with students, and we all benefit from the local research that the partnership undertakes.

“This is an exciting time for social work in Northamptonshire and I look forward to working with the partnership to make our county a great place for social workers to train and practice.”

Cllr Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “Social work can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding, and so I am thrilled that we are part of this important partnership, which will support social workers in their training and professional development, equipping them with the right skills to be able to make a real difference to people’s lives every single day.

“The partnership is another step in our drive to make working in social care in Northamptonshire an attractive career and demonstrates our commitment to delivering the best possible opportunities for children, families and people in our care.”

Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said: “Building better, brighter futures for our children and helping adults lead active, fulfilled lives are two of our key priorities and essential components in ensuring North Northants is a great place in which to live.

“Our social workers are very much key to this and any initiative which supports our staff in making the important decisions they are faced with every day and in a quest for excellent standards is very much endorsed by us.

“The Social Work Teaching Partnership is a pragmatic approach which sees partners collaborating positively so that we can achieve our goals.

“This is an exciting opportunity to build on the great work that has already started in building better lives and opportunities for everyone.”