Rachel Hek

Rachel Hek

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Lecturer and Placement Manager

Contact details

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Rachel Hek is a lecturer on the Social Work team at the University of Birmingham and also Head of Qualifying Practice Learning for the MA and BA Social Work courses.  She also manages a bank of independent Practice Tutors and Practice Educators.  Rachel is responsible for creating new practice learning opportunities for students and for liaising with, recruiting and training Practice Educators from a wide variety of statutory and non-statutory settings.


  • MSc Psychodynamic Counselling: University of London, 1997
  • Postgraduate Diploma Psychodynamic Counselling.  University of London, 1995
  • Approved Social Worker, 1991
  • Practice Teacher Award, CCETSW, 1990
  • BA (Hons) Sociology with Professional Studies.  CNAA, 1988
  • CQSW (Certificate of Qualification in Social Work).  CCETSW, 1988


Rachel qualified as a social worker in 1988 and has worked in a wide variety of areas; initially she worked as a generic social worker and then moved into specialising in working with children and families.  She has worked in the areas of child protection, child and adolescent mental health and looked after children.  She has developed services for children and has worked as a self-employed social work consultant and trainer.  Rachel moved to work as a researcher and social work lecturer but still works as an independent social worker chairing child protection conferences and looked after reviews for various local authorities.  Rachel is also a qualified Practice Teacher


  • Module leader, Preparation for Practice Learning (BA and MA Social Work)
  • Information and support workshops and specialist training days for practice educators and work based supervisors
  • Information and support workshops for Practice Tutors


  • Rachel is currently evaluating the first 18 months of a joint initiative between the University of Birmingham and a local social enterprise project (SWEET), to place students in a family support agency.  This initiative is designed to expand quality practice learning opportunities for under and postgraduate students in social work training at the University of Birmingham.
  • Rachel has recently evaluated a project set up with the police and probation services in the West Midlands to offer student practice placements in non-traditional settings.
  • Previously Rachel worked on a three year National Evaluation Project of the Children's Fund and has been involved in a number of research projects with children and young people who are refugees in the UK.

Other activities

  • UOB representative JUCSWEC Learning and Teaching Committee
  • UOB representative at regional and sub-regional Placement Planning Groups


Articles in academic journals

Hek, R (2011), Is it possible to develop and sustain non-traditional placements? An evaluation of the development of practice learning opportunities in partnership with the Police and Probation services in the West Midlands.  Journal of Social Work Education (accepted for publication March 2011).

Beirens, H, Hughes, N, Hek, R and Spicer, N (2007), Preventing Social Exclusion of Refugee and Asylum Seeking Children: Building New Networks, Social Policy and Society, 6:2, 219-229., Social Policy and Society, 6:2, 219-229.

Chapters in books

Hek, R (2007) Supporting unaccompanied young people in foster placements. In Social work with unaccompanied asylum seeking children: Practice and policy issues. Kohli, R and Mitchell, F. (Joint Editors) London, Palgrave. Kohli, R and Mitchell, F. (Joint Editors) London, Palgrave.

Hek, R (2007) Parenting and Risk in Growing Up with Risk. Thom, B. Pearce, J. and Sales, R. (Joint Editors) Bristol, Policy Press. Thom, B. Pearce, J. and Sales, R. (Joint Editors) Bristol, Policy Press.

Official Research Reviews & Reports

Hek, R & Aiers, A. (2010) Promoting best outcomes for children and providing best support for carers. International Centre for Research and Innovation in Fostering (iCRIF).

Hek, R (2008) Travelling New Roads: Expanding Practice Learning. Skills for Care.

Mason, P. Hek, R. Spalek, B & Ward,  N (2008) Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups: Ethnicity, Identity and Minorities. London, Ministry of Justice.

Morris, K, Warren, S, Hek, R, Mason, P and Plumridge, G (2006) Preventative Services for Black and Minority Ethnic Children and Young People NECF/DfES NECF/DfES.

As part of NECF team (2006) Final Report on the National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund. London, DfES. London, DfES.

Beirens, H, Mason, P, Hughes, N, Hek, R and Spicer, N (2006) Preventative services for Refugees and Asylum Seeking Children and Young People, National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund Research Report 780. London, DfES. London, DfES.

View all publications in research portal