How we are implementing learning and development in the South East London Teaching Partnership

06 April 2017

Image: Nimal JudeNimal Jude

The South East London Teaching Partnership (SELTP) was one of four National pilots in England. Funded by Department for Education and the Department of Health, the aim was to ‘test and refine innovative approaches’ and to deliver high-quality learning and development for social work, from entry-level through to senior leadership.

The partnership is the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark and Royal Greenwich Children’s and Adults’ Services and Goldsmiths, University of London.

The three boroughs had been working closely for several years on social work reform, Assessing Newly Qualified Social Workers (ASYE), and the implementation of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). We also had a strong link with Goldsmiths, University of London, who offered two statutory placements for over 85% of students. So when an invitation to collaborate and strengthen learning and development pathways came, we grabbed it!

Our key aims are to:

  • Support high-quality, effective social work interventions by developing social workers who are research-minded, enquiring, reflective and committed to continuous learning.
  • Train, recruit, develop and retain social workers by progressing their careers while they are in our employment.
  • Pioneer, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to social work education and training by integrating theory and research.
  • Provide social work students with a rich curriculum of practice learning to prepare them for challenging and complex social work intervention.
  • Keep service users at the heart of training and development, uphold, and promote the values of social work in everything we teach and do.

We started with a vision of bringing the university to the local authority practice and the local authority to the university. By working together as practitioners and academics, we have created space for a more open dialogue about what we share in terms of values, knowledge and skills and what students and social workers need to become accomplished practitioners. We want to provide opportunities for social workers to broaden and build their practice throughout their career with the opportunity to specialise as they mature in their practice.

How we are implementing learning and development

Our overall mission for the partnership is to cultivate a culture of learning and shared ownership of a revitalised portfolio of qualifying and post-qualifying social work education and continuous professional development. To achieve this, we are delivering high-quality learning and development opportunities from entry-level to through to senior leadership.

When developing our programmes we have focused on the 70:20:10 model for learning and development (Morgan, M 1996). We are also starting to establish Communities of Practice (Wenger, E 1998), enabling practitioners to continue to engage in reflective practice in which professional knowledge is co-constructed and shared across the partnership.

For example, a significant innovation within SELTP has been the creation of a Teaching Consultant (TC) role whereby experienced social workers have been selected and endorsed by their managers to become involved in the design and delivery of teaching and learning. Our Teaching Consultants have been paired with academics and bring practice experience into the classroom. Our evaluation of this strand of the programme highlights how this has invigorated practice and rekindled enthusiasm for social work practice, which has been noticed in local authority teams.

Many of our students are already entering the workplace with a wide variety of experience in the third sector and they would like to gain more statutory experience. This corresponds with the needs of the three local authorities and we recognise the value of third sector placements. 95% of students are now offered two statuary placements within the local authorities.

We are also developing practice endorsement programmes that will assist key practitioners to build their direct observation, feedback and evaluations skills in readiness for the national Assessment and Accreditation System.

Another development is the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) programmes with options for further academic credits for aspiring leaders, subject matter experts, practice supervisors, and senior leaders. All programmes are mapped to the Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS), PCF with a focus on values and attributes and an action learning, coaching and mentoring methodology.

Being members of Research in Practice and Research in Practice for Adults has, as a partnership, helped us to achieve our aims by maximising our capacity to tailor resources and support. We feel this will also assist us in harmonising our programmes and creating a culture of evidence-informed practice. Our next steps have also become a little clearer, and we are excited about the journey ahead.

About the author

Nimal Jude is the Programme Director at the South East London Teaching Partnership. She has a professional background in Youth Justice, restorative approaches, substance misuse, and specialises in developing and delivering group work. She delivers workshops emotional resilience, spirituality in assessment, coaching mentoring and mindfulness.

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