Becoming a Social Worker and career progression

How we can help you develop and progress your career.

"The best thing about being a Social Worker here is the constant opportunities to develop further in a very supportive and friendly environment."

Social Worker

Becoming a Social Worker

The title of ‘Social Worker’ is protected in law for use by those who have qualified and are currently registered with Social Work England.

Qualification is at degree and masters level and gives grounding in work with adults, children and families. The social work degree may be a two or a three year course, depending on your previous academic qualifications, and will include two practice placements totalling 170 days and 30 practice skills days over the course.

Social work students will develop their learning and practice according to the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for Social Workers at the end of their first and second placement opportunities. They will need to demonstrate that their practice meets these capability standards and this will be assessed throughout the placements.

The PCF can be found on the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) website and will give the descriptors at each level of your training and beyond.

After successful completion of the degree/master’s degree, Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW’s) will be required to complete the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) demonstrating that they can meet the requirements of the Adult Services Post Qualifying Standards Knowledge and Skills Statement and the PCF. This needs to be successfully completed to continue working as a Social Worker with West Sussex County Council.

Post qualifying training is available at universities to support professionals to gain further skills through academic study.

Social Workers are expected to engage in a range of learning and development activities through their career that support and improve their practice and outcomes for service users. This could include:

  • self-study
  • attending conferences
  • training to develop specialist knowledge and skill
  • academic study
  • reading
  • research.

All Social Workers are expected to engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity on an ongoing basis to be able to keep their registration with Social Work England.

All Social Workers will now refer to and map their professional practice, skills, and knowledge against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) held by BASW. This gives detail of the nine domains of professional practice which are present throughout every level of social work from pre-qualifying to advanced practice.

Partnerships with universities

We are working in partnership with the University of Chichester to provide
academically accredited training at West Sussex County Council.

The courses that the university offer are:

  • BA (Hons) Social Work
  • Accredited Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (credits towards Post Graduate Certificate)
  • Accredited Practice Education (credits toward Post Graduate Certificate).

Progression pathways

Our progression pathways allow individual social workers to choose their own career path, so they can make the most of their experience while working in West Sussex.

All our social workers are provided with the opportunity to progress from qualified social worker to senior social worker through a portfolio route. They are provided with a framework of support, workshops and assessment in order to achieve this.

We value our social work staff and have a track record of supporting further progression to senior practitioner and management roles, providing a management development programme to support this.

The learning and development offer for social workers includes a comprehensive programme of internal and external opportunities.

“We want West Sussex to support social workers to reach their full potential, to encourage them to progress and develop. If social workers feel supported and have the right level of development for them, then their experience of working in West Sussex is more likely to be both rewarding and fulfilling.”

Tracy Davis
Principal Social Worker for Adults

We also support practitioners to qualify as approved mental health professionals, best interest assessors or practice educators, all of which are accredited and count towards post graduate qualification. This means that there is the opportunity to develop within both specialist and non-specialist routes.

We currently invest in our existing assistant care manager workforce by offering a number of social work degree apprenticeships every year in partnership with local universities. This is an excellent opportunity to train as a social worker while working for West Sussex County Council.

West Sussex is committed to the development of our managers and aspiring managers. We understand that managing teams can be immensely rewarding whilst also being unpredictable and challenging at times and we have a wealth of resources for aspiring, new and existing managers to support their continued development of leadership skills. This includes a dedicated management development programme.

We all know that the world of adults’ social care is one which is ever evolving and seeking to improve through new and innovative ways of working and recognise the key role our managers play in the success of any new projects and service development. We also provide a range of resources to help both managers and our wider workforce to positively respond to change.

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