Past events

The following events were hosted by the Social Work Academy and contain further information and background reading.

Social Work Academy Masterclass:  Outing the Elephant: Developing poverty-aware practice with children and families

Date: 19th January 2019
Speaker: Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway, University of London

Although there is no official collection of data on the socio-economic circumstances of the families of children on child protection plans or in the care system in the UK, a study by Bywaters et al (2018) confirmed that there is a clear link between social deprivation and a child’s chances of being on child protection plans or out of home care. However paradoxically although we know most of children are from poor backgrounds, poverty is largely invisible in child protection practice and policy. Drawing on research with families living in poverty, this workshop considers how we can develop poverty-aware practice and policies within a social model for protecting children and supporting families.

You can listen to the masterclass here

Do we hinder or help? The experiences of children and families with care and protection needs

Date: 30 October 2018
Speaker: Professor Kate Morris, University of Sheffield 

The seminar will focus on the experiences of families with complex needs when accessing and using welfare services. The wider context of child welfare inequalities will also be considered and policy and practice implications discussed. The seminar will draw on a number of recent  research studies to consider ways in which social work practices and policies can support or prevent better outcomes for children and their families. 

Professor Kate Morris is a qualified social worker, and joined the University of Sheffield in 2015. She was previously Director of the Centre for Social Work, University of Nottingham and began her career as an academic at the University of Birmingham. Her areas of interest are: family minded policy and practice, family participation in care and protection, the reform of safeguarding practice and child welfare inequalities. Kate led the case study strand for the Child Welfare Inequalities research. Kate is active in international and national social work reform, and was previously chair of JUCSWEC. Kate sits on the international advisory board for the journal Families, Societies and Relationships and the Editorial Board for the journal Relational Social Work. She is a reviewer for national and international grant making organisations and research funders, and has held various national policy advisory roles. Kate is the academic lead for the Faculty of Social Sciences ‘Children’s Chances’ and sits on the Care Crisis Review stakeholder group (

Three Conversations: Putting identity back into Social Work

Date: 24 September 2018
Sam Newman, Partners4Change

This masterclass will consider the impact of shifting social work (and other) practice away from an obsession with forms, processes and documents and towards a humanised way of working that pays attention to the identity both of the people and families who need support, and also those people working in the social and health care world. It will also consider the evidence from systems that are using the Three Conversations® that if you take a radical approach to this work, you can demonstrate significant improvements in the experience of people interacting with social and health care, demonstrable improvements in satisfaction and productivity of the workforce, and also contribute to easing the current pressure on budgets.

Sam is an experienced health and social care manager who has held a variety of senior positions in the sector. He qualified in social work and holds an MBA. Sam is passionate about supporting people to live their lives well and making sure that health and care systems place this at the heart of all that they do. For the past ten years he has provided change management support to Councils across the UK as the Director of Partners for Change, P4C. Sam and P4C have led the development and co-design of The Three Conversations® as a new approach to health and social care – focussing on people and their lives, rather than assessment, documents and processes. More than 30 councils across the UK have worked with P4C to develop their own three conversations approach. This approach seeks to prove through a wide range of compelling evidence that The Three Conversations® is better for people and families, better for workers who become much more motivated and productive, and better for the budget.  To find out more please visit  or contact

Social work academy masterclass – What is good social work practice? What difference does it make?

Date: 23 January 2018
Speaker: Professor Donald Forrester of the University of Cardiff

Donald will be presenting evidence from studies the have looked at practice skills and outcomes for over 400 families. Together these are the largest study ever undertaken of the relationship between practice skills and outcomes, and as such they provide an opportunity to examine not just what good practice is, but the challenges involved in creating excellence in service delivery. The studies have evaluated specific ways of working - such as Systemic Practice or Motivational Interviewing – and approaches to change from complex whole system reforms to intensive training. The session’s focus will be on identifying key lessons for delivering effective services for children and families.

Events in 2017

Leading gender and sexuality in social work

Date: 14 February 2017
Speaker: Professor Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Middlesex University

Restorative practice: Transforming the culture of children's services

Date: 2 March 2017
Speaker: Andy Lloyd, Head of Service - Workforce Development, Leeds City Council  

This session explored the concept of restorative practice and how this has become the default behaviour in Leeds Children’s Services when working with families. Restorative practice is different from restorative justice, although there are similarities between the two. Restorative practice focuses on building, maintaining and repairing relationships and is based on a commitment to working with people rather than doing things to them or for them. Restorative practice requires an atmosphere of high support and high challenge.

Andy Lloyd qualified as a social worker nearly 30 years ago and worked in statutory and third sector organisations before spending 7 years working in two of the three Universities in Leeds. He has been the Head of Children’s Workforce Development for four years.

Putting yourself in our shoes: young people’s perspectives on professional support after child sexual violence

Date: 27 April 2017
Speaker: Camille Warrington, University of Bedfordshire, Institute of Applied Social Research

The organisational conditions for better practice: Pride, shame, and authenticity 

Date: 7 June 2017
SPeaker: Matthew Gibson, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Birmingham

This workshop considers the formal and informal conditions for good social work practice. It reports on findings from a research study into how social workers feel about doing their work and how this influences their commitment, motivation, and creativity in practice. It considers how pride and shame are central to the conditions for creating, guiding and changing the practice in an organisation. It demonstrates how these emotions can be managed within organisations so that social work teams create the informal conditions to continually improve what the social workers do and how these emotions can lead to practise that hides, resists, and challenges the intentions of management and potentially leads to a demotivated and destabilised workforce.

Relationship based practise and intimacy in Social Work practise: How social workers get close to children and families and help them

Date: 18 October 2017
Speaker: Professor Harry Ferguson of the University of Birmingham

How is social work actually done? What do social workers do when face to face with service users? What do they talk about? Where do they sit? Or stand? Do they move when on home visits and if so when, why and how? How close to children do practitioners get and where is the best place to see children if they are to reveal the truth of their experience and needs?

This presentation seeks some answers to these questions by drawing on ethnographic research in which practitioners were shadowed while doing the work and face to face encounters between social workers, children and families were observed and audio recorded, mainly on home visits. It focuses on the social work encounters where closeness and intimacy occurred, the relationships had depth and service users were helped. It draws out learning about how helpful social work occurs and can be developed.

Events in 2016

Values Based Practice and Mental Health Assessment

Date: 12 October 2016
Speakers: Professor Bill Fulford in conjunction with Tamsin Waterhouse

Materials linked to Masterclasses can be found below: