Social Work Academy

Inaugurated in October 2011, the Birmingham Social Work Academy (BSWA) is a nationally groundbreaking partnership between Birmingham City Council’s Children, Young People and Families Directorate and the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham. It is designed to radically change and improve the learning and development opportunities for students, for new entrants into the social work profession and for experienced social work practitioners and managers.

The development of the academy reflects the work developed nationally by the social work reform board and the recent Munro review into child protection.  The progress report on implementation of the Munro recommendations (Progress report: Moving towards a child centred system) highlights the BSWA as an example of the strengthening of the relationship between universities and employers in order ‘to embed a learning culture in social work academies’.

The aim is to increase the level of professional expertise within the city by raising standards and improving recruitment and retention of experienced staff.

Professor David Stephenson, Head of the School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham

"Birmingham City Council has always had a significant influence on our programmes and we have had longstanding partnership arrangements with Birmingham Social Services over many years. Having entered into a Strategic Partnership with the Adults and Communities Directorate last year it is a very appropriate next step that the founding partnership of the BSWA is between the Children, Young People and Families Directorate and the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham.

The Birmingham Social Work Academy will provide the platform for the School of Social Policy to implement the Social Work Reform Boards' recommendations for effective partnership working between HEI's and employers throughout the midlands region. We will be inviting all social work agencies to join us in this exciting new initiative."

The University has been providing social work education since 1908 and the School of Social Policy has developed a reputation for delivering high quality teaching and learning. The BSWA is the first of a range of initiatives to strengthen the relationship between the University of Birmingham and employers in the region to embed a learning culture in social work agencies.

Follow the link below to a report in Community Care on the BSWA, where you can hear the views of service director Mark Gurrey, Professor Sue White, and May Porter, a senior social worker in Birmingham:


Staff involved in the development and delivery of the BSWA: 

Professor David Stephenson
David Stephenson is Head of the School of Social Policy and Head of the Institute of Applied Social Studies.

Professor Sue White
Sue is Professor of Social Work for Children and Families in the School of Social Policy, Institute of Applied Social Studies. She is also an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences

Mark Chesterman
Mark is Director of Post Qualifying Programmes in the Institute of Applied Social Studies and leads the PQ children and families programme.

Kathryn Farrow
Kathryn Farrow is programme director for the MA in Advanced Practice (Leadership and Management in Social Work/Social Care). She has responsibility for running the Leadership and Management Seminar Series provided as part of the University of Birmingham's Public Service Academy.

BSWA / PSA Seminar Series 2013/14

Leadership and Management Seminars – Leading Social Work Practice

Care Full Management: the significance of care ethics for social work management and practice.

Tuesday 26th November, 4.00pm – 6.15pm

Park House, University of Birmingham

 Led by Marian Barnes, Professor of Social Policy, University of Brighton, and author of  ‘Care in Everyday Life. An ethic of care in practice’ (Policy Press, 2012). This seminar will explore the importance of care as a value not only in social work practice, but in shaping the way in which practitioners are managed and supported to enable good care.

Registration is FREE for this seminar; however, you must confirm your attendance by completing our online booking form.

Future seminars

Mindfulness for Social Work Managers
Tuesday 25th February, 4.00pm – 6.15pm

Strengthening Professional Judgement in Practice
Tuesday 10th June, 4.00pm – 6.15pm

Recent Seminars

Ethical Leadership for Social Work Practice (June 2013)
Speaker: John Lawler, Senior Lecturer, Public Sector Management Centre for International Development, University of Bradford

Why Social Work managers need to think like designers, and how to do it! (March 2013)
David Wastell, Professor of Information Systems, Nottingham University Business School

Supervising and Managing Professionals – Reframing Professional Practice to Deliver Meaningful Outcomes (October 2012)
Speaker: Sharon Lambley, Author: Proactive Management in Social Work Practice

Comments from seminar participants:

The seminar provided me with much 'food for thought' as how the task of supervising and managing professional staff needs to be completed in a way that evidenceswhat is required more effectively. '

This was a useful and stimulating seminar, and I intend to incorporate the knowledge into my supervision.‘

‘I very much enjoyed the seminar and in my position as manager within an IFA I am able to implement some of the strategies that Sharon suggested such as reflective supervision.’