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The recruitment process for the latest tranche of applicants to the Government’s fast-track social work programme is under way.

Some 550 places are on offer for the fifth cohort of the Step Up to Social Work scheme, which will start training early in 2018.

Places are up from the 400 offered for the previous cohort but demand is expected to be high with the previous cohort oversubscribed, with more than 10 applicants for every position.

Trainees’ bursary

Minimum entry requirement is a 2:1 degree or a 2:2 degree plus a higher level qualification for the 14-month course, which is delivered by regional partnerships of councils and universities.

Trainees receive a bursary of £19,833 and have their tuition fees paid. They finish with a postgraduate diploma in social work and are able to register as social workers with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

According to the government, some 80% of graduates so far from the scheme have been successfully recruited into social work jobs at the end of the course.

Training effective social workers

The government wants 3,000 children’s social workers to have qualified through fast-track routes by 2021, with £100m invested in Step up to Social Work and the Frontline fast-track programme to meet the target.

Applicants should have the emotional resilience to become an effective social worker; understand social work theory and research; be aware of the risk indicators of different forms of harm to children; demonstrate intuition and logic in decision-making; show the ability to record accurate child and family assessments; have an understanding of the Knowledge and Skills Statements for Child and Family Social Workers; familiarise themselves with the Professional Capabilities Framework for social workers (entry level)

Attracting talented graduates

Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 170 placement days of social work experience in local authorities on a course that will cover topics such as social work ethics and practice, child development, assessment of risk, and the legal framework.

Isabelle Trowler, chief social worker for children and families, said: "Programmes like this one are attracting hundreds of talented graduates each year, who could make a real difference to the lives of children and families."

The regulators are the HCPC and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

Applications closing date is 18 March 2019

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