About us

The mission of the School of Social Policy is to ‘understand the world – but also to change it.’ This means doing high quality, world-leading research, and then using this to make a practical difference to policy, to practice and to people’s lives.  

We do this in different ways - through our teaching; through professional training and CPD for practitioners, managers and leaders; through policy advice and work in front-line services; through raising public and media awareness; and through working directly alongside local people and communities – but it’s this commitment to changing the world that drives us on. It also fits with Joe Chamberlain’s vision of Birmingham as the first civic University, and to our current campus-wide commitment to ‘research that matters.’

Our achievements

In turning this mission into practice, we are proud of our many achievements, including running the UK's oldest social work training programme (dating back to 1908), our contribution over time to the multiple award-winning NHS Management Training Scheme, the relationships we have with local partners in the public and voluntary sectors, and our leading role in the senior leadership development programmes in the health service.

Our contributions change over time as the policy context evolves, but we are playing a key role in:

  • Equipping future public service workers and leaders with the skills to face new challenges and opportunities
  • Providing evidence to support health services management and organisation, and to enhance the quality and effectiveness of healthcare
  • Improving the leadership of the NHS and social care, and creating more compassionate, joined-up, person-centred services
  • Creating a sustainable system of adult social care, and helping to keep children safe
  • Reducing inequality and ending fuel, food and child poverty
  • Reducing the harms caused by criminal justice policy
  • Celebrating diversity and creating more cohesive communities
  • Intervening early to improve youth mental health
  • Valuing and supporting the work of charities and community groups

More than three quarters of our research is rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in terms of its rigour, significance and originality, and we have extensive international links with like-minded partners at Harvard, Melbourne, Peking, Vancouver, Seoul and beyond.

The School is made up of three departments:

We have five inter-disciplinary research centres: 

How we work

The day-to-day work and the future development of the School is co-ordinated by a School Management Team. Each year we will be working with leadership and OD colleagues to explore how well we operate as a Team, and we have approached our social care colleagues to see if members of the Team could volunteer as mentors for young people looked after by the Local Authority.

To supplement the work of SMT, a broader School Futures Group is tasked with helping us to think through:

  • The longer term aspirations of the School
  • What makes us distinctive
  • How we want to work together in future

Both groups have worked together to produce the School's strategy for 2015-2020, which aims to help us ensure we are recognised as one of the top 5 units of our kind in the country. There are three particularly important elements of this challenging target:

  1. Our performance in all areas is already strong and this will need to be sustained.
  2. A key challenge is 'being recognised' as one of the leading units (not just 'being' in the top 5) and this is arguably as much about internal and external profile as it is the actual level of performance.
  3. When we want to be one of the top 5 units 'of our kind', we have choices about what kind of School we want to be. This makes our commitment to 'understanding the world, and changing it', even more important, as we need to judge how well we are doing against this mission.