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Supporting and developing our manager’s programme

Teaching partnership project lead Libbi discusses the successful development and launch of an early career social work manager’s programme.

Supporting and developing our manager’s programme

5/26/2021 12:00:05 PM

Developing Together is a social work teaching partnership covering South West London and Surrey. Project lead for the partnership, Libbi Aldred, discusses the successful development of an 8-day early career social work managers programme which was created and delivered to over 50 managers during the pandemic.

The social work teaching partnership and developing the manager’s programme

Our overarching responsibility is to develop the quality of pre-qualifying and post-qualifying social work education through a series of initiatives involving students, academics, practice educators, onsite supervisors, those with lived experience, workforce development teams, newly qualified social workers, assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) assessors, managers, and many more key stakeholders.

Support for the transition into management from social work practice

The line manager's role has been described as ‘filling a sandwich between the staff team on the one level and senior managers on the other’ (Kitchener 2004). The step into management from social work practice is both a personal and professional challenge, but there is little training or support to prepare people for the shift from social worker to manager. Managers are often navigating new terrain, managing their peers, and dealing with the demands of both social work practice and being accountable to senior managers.

The role of a team manager is also hugely rewarding; supporting social workers to achieve positive outcomes for people with lived experience, reflecting on practice in supervision, encouraging staff as they develop and grow as practitioners, and building positive teams where excellent social work practice can flourish.

We identified this gap in provision through consultation with our strategic board and steering committee, which includes senior academics, heads of departments, directors and assistant directors, principal social workers, workforce development leads and practice leads. The experiences of our social work lead from their time in practice was also instrumental in driving this initiative forward. A survey with existing managers about what training they had received and what they felt may have supported them in the transition from social worker to manager also confirmed that there was a gap in provision.

Finding the solution

Consultations across the partnership provided us with feedback to identify what our managers course should cover, what level of experience should be targeted, what method of accreditation was preferred and who should facilitate the course.

We agreed on an 8 day ‘hybrid’ programme for managers with 0 to 18 months experience, delivered by facilitators from different settings. Facilitators included experts from our employer partners and higher education institutes, as well as external facilitators who are experts in their field. It was agreed that the course would be delivered virtually given that it was being developed during the height of the pandemic. This also made it more feasible for managers from different organisations to come together without the physical barrier of travel.

The training days were interactive and focused on key themes of social work management, with a mixture of presentations, group discussions and exercises covering numerous topics:

  • Transition into management
  • Leadership styles
  • The use of authority
  • Building performing teams
  • Managing performance
  • Decision making
  • Quality assurance
  • Managing budgets
  • Completing appraisals

A day was also dedicated to the managers’ own self-care and the support they need to carry out their roles effectively, whilst promoting wellbeing and self-care within their own teams.

Next steps

We have now delivered the programme twice in our partnership and are currently extending the course to another regional social work teaching partnership. Those who have completed the programme receive a formal certificate. The course can also be recorded as CPD on a social worker's Social Work England online account, where they can evidence impact on their practice by reflecting on their learning. It is also fully accredited by the CPD Standards Office.

We anticipate that the early career social work manager’s programme will be delivered annually to approximately 25 managers, and we also hope to continue to deliver the programme externally to share best practice. Thinking beyond early career managers, we also have plans to develop a provision for more experienced managers.

You can find out more about our teaching partnership on our website or follow us on Twitter.

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