Tower Hamlets launches new training scheme for social workers

Sir Alan Wood. Pic: @towerhamletsnow

A new academy to train social workers as part of a borough-wide effort to improve children’s services has been launched by Tower Hamlets Council

The Tower Hamlets Social Work Academy (THSWA) will train prospective social workers in essential skills  for child and family care.

The council has invested £250,000 in the new academy and will be working with universities to offer a range of  recogniused qualifications, including a Masters degree.

The academy will partner with universities including Royal Holloway University of London, University of East London and London Metropolitan University, as well as offering learning online.

A list of the recognised training programmes and the qualifications offered. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Sir Alan Wood, 64, the former director for Children and Young People’s Services in Hackney, was the keynote speaker at the launch event and inaugurated the academy.

In his speech Wood said: “We need to develop a discourse about practice teaching and innovation in social work. Remember the central role we can play in people’s lives.”

The THSWA will use new research to deliver a style of practice tailored to individual needs. On their webpage, they explain their model focuses on “doing things with people, rather than for or to them, showing high levels of support and challenge”.

Students will be supported by individual experienced care workers who will serve as mentors and support for difficult cases.

At the end of their program students are provided with work experience through programs such as Step Up and Frontline , and are offered guaranteed interviews with potential employers.

Students will also engage in practice visits to local authorities where they can meet experienced care workers in the field.

At the THSWA launch, Kane Smith, 23, a care-leaver who achieved a MSc in regenerative medicine and a research assistant at Bart’s Cancer Institute in Clerkenwell spoke about his experience growing up in Tower Hamlets and how social services helped his social mobility.

Smith said in Tower Hamlets there is a “great disparity between the rich and the poor.” Tower Hamlets has the highest rates of child poverty in England, meaning that many children are in need of care.

Smith said that care needs to be individualised to be successful. He said: “Don’t just manage, but look after children to facilitate their future prospects.”

Through social care services like Tower Hamlets WorkPath, Smith was able to gain the work experience he needed for his career in regenerative medicine. He said services like these are invaluable to children in care.


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