Teaching Partnerships in 2018

In 2017 Isabelle Trowler (Chief Social Worker for Children and Families) said, of Teaching Partnerships: It is great to see how the partnerships have evolved over the last three years. Everywhere I go I hear positive things about the work that you are all doing.

…….why teaching partnerships are so important. Yes, it’s about professional standards; yes it’s about initial and post qualification pathways; introducing professional exams through national accreditation; yes it’s about partnership between social work academics and employers and people who use services and social workers themselves. But this is all a means to an end. Teaching partnerships need to be established as a vital part of every regional arrangement.

We are working in very fraught times……I know, and you know too, the power of social work. When we are strong, we can make change happen. And I think change needs to happen.

We need a fully supported and developed social work workforce at all levels of seniority – because first order decisions about intervention – support or protection – or otherwise, and second order decisions about how to intervene and for how long – need highly skilled, and highly knowledgeable social workers on the ground, leading practice so we can use minimum resources to maximum effect. These sorts of decisions, particularly about statutory support and about unwanted intervention into private family life – are not neutral. These are political and social concepts and there are few absolutes. As social workers we weave our way through the intricacies and intimacy of other people’s lives – and navigate too public perception, party politics, and media scrutiny.

It is no surprise that many, if not most, of the strongest authorities in England have a downwards trajectory in the statutory intervention stats, or at least are in steady state, because with strength, comes quiet confidence. With confidence comes a practice system capacity to recognise individual, family and community strengths. And to build on that, recognising risk without risk running away with you. Whilst arguing hard for resource and investment: we need a national infrastructure which generates new social workers, and rejuvenates others as we all move through our careers, developing enhanced knowledge and skills rooted in the values of social work – of social justice, empowerment, personal freedom and individual rights. This is what you have begun to create, and I have to say, with some style!


The Independent evaluation of NESWA (phase 1) reported in May 2018: NESWA has achieved a great deal in its first 18 months, and this should be celebrated. Contributors to events including service users and front-line staff, the Strategic Group, the Executive Group, the committees, Funded Project groups, and the project team have all shown impressive determination and commitment to delivering the funded programme.

This evaluation has been strongly supported by the generous contributions and commitment of partners across NESWA, for which we as evaluators are grateful. It is also a good indication of the approach that members of the teaching partnership have taken to this first year of foundational work.

There have been achievements, some of which are described above, but in phase 2 NESWA must ensure that improvements are gathered and presented in a convincing manner to a wider audience.

The most important success in year one has been developing a solid foundation. The project has moved quickly, particularly given the complexity and nature of the relationships between organisations (which include competitive elements), and in the coming year must build on and nurture these relationships that have the potential lead to greater improvements to the recruitment and retention of workers in coming years.


The national picture: There are currently 22 Teaching partnerships in England.


Teaching Partnership Start date Lead Local Authority
1 Greater Manchester Social Work Academy 2015 Manchester City Council
2 South East London 2015 Royal Borough of Greenwich
3 South Yorkshire 2015 Sheffield City Council
4 Cumbria-Lancaster 2016 Cumbria County Council
5 North East Social Work Alliance 2016 Durham County Council
6 South Coast Centre for Social Work Education 2016 East Sussex County Council
7 Yorkshire Urban & Rural 2016 Calderdale Council
8 Leeds & Wakefield 2016 Leeds City Council
9 West London 2016 London Borough of Ealing
10 North London 2016 London Borough of Hackney
11 D2N2 (Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire) 2016 Nottinghamshire County Council
12 Suffolk & Norfolk 2016 Suffolk County Council
13 Bradford District 2018 Bradford Metropolitan District Council (BMDC)
14 Cheshire and Merseyside 2018 Liverpool City Council
15 Greater Lancashire 2018 Lancashire County Council
16 Kent Medway South East England 2018 Medway Council
17 North East London 2018 London Borough of Havering
18 Pan Dorset and Wiltshire 2018 Borough of Poole
19 South West London and Surrey 2018 Achieving for Children (on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames)
20 Hertfordshire Eastern 2018 Hertfordshire County Council
21 Greater Cambridgeshire 2018 Cambridgeshire County Council
22 Regional West Midlands 2018 Coventry City Council (amalgamated bid incl. NW Mids & N Mids TPs)

DfE are in the process of commissioning a national evaluation We will update on progress as further information emerges.

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