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Thinking about a career in social work with children and families


Whether you are just leaving school or are looking for a career change, social work is a great career if you really want to make a difference.

The type of work social workers do

Social workers work with individuals and families and help them to improve their lives. The following sites can help you find out more about a career in social work:

Qualifications you will need to become a social worker

To become a social worker in England you will need a qualification approved by Social Work England. This could be an undergraduate degree, post graduate diploma, or masters degree in social work.

Social Work England has a full list of approved programmes: Social Work England - search for an approved course.

What you will learn on a qualifying social work course

All qualifying social work courses will provide you with an understanding of the core skills and values of social work, the legal and policy context, and how you can intervene to support individuals and families.

You will undertake at least 170 days in practice placements (work experience) which gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you are able to meet the required standards and professional capabilities for social work.

Where you can study

We work in partnership with five universities and colleges in the North East who offer excellent social work programmes.

University or collegeProgrammeFull-time or part-time
Durham UniversityDurham University - Master of Social Work (MSW) courseFull-time
New College DurhamNew College Durham - BA (Hons) Social WorkFull-time
Northumbria University

Northumbria University - BSc (Hons) Social Work

Northumbria University - MA Social Work

Full-time
University of Sunderland

University of Sunderland - BA (Hons) Social Work

University of Sunderland - MA Social Work

Full-time and part-time options
Teesside University

Teesside University - BA (Hons) Social Work

Teesside University - MA Social Work

Full-time

If you have the support of an existing employer who can provide you with the practice placements you need you can also consider programmes offered by the Open University.

University or collegeProgrammeFull-time or part-time
Open University

Open University - BA (Hons) Social Work

Open University - Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work

Open University - MA in Social Work

Full-time and part-time options

Financial support

If you are undertaking an undergraduate degree in social work, post graduate diploma in social work, or a masters degree in social work you may be eligible for a bursary. Bursaries are supported by the Department of Health as an incentive to train in social work and are administered by the NHS Business Service Authority (NHSBSA). See NHSBSA - funding for social work students for more information.

You could also consider a student loan - see Gov.uk: student finance for more information.

Apprenticeship and trainee programmes

Apprenticeship or trainee programmes offer the opportunity to work and earn a salary while you complete a Social work degree apprenticeship. The costs of your degree will be fully funded.

Every council's apprenticeship scheme will be different. At the moment we only take on people with experience of working with children, young people and families who are ready to take their careers to the next level by training to become social workers.

As a trainee you will primarily work within a pod with other social work trainees supported by a lead practitioner who is an experienced social worker. You will experience a variety of work with children and families, which gradually increases in complexity as your skills and knowledge develop. You will also complete two placements (one of 70 days and one of 100 days) in our social work teams. Throughout the programme, one day per week is ringfenced for study. 

Following successful completion of your social work degree and registration with Social Work England, trainees are guaranteed a permanent social work role working with children and families in Durham. 

We expect our next application process to open in early 2024.

Financial support

You will earn a salary and the costs of your degree will be fully funded.

Fast track programmes

Fast track programmes are intensive full-time training programmes which are aimed at graduates who already hold a degree in a different subject. 

Step Up to Social Work

Step up to social work  is a 14 month programme for people who want to work as social workers with children and families. The programme combines teaching and placements with the support of councils. At the end of the programme successful participants are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work and are able to register as social workers with Social Work England.

The programme normally runs every two years, and is likely to be open for applications in early 2025 with successful applicants commencing the programme in early 2026. 

Participants on the programme who are supported by Durham are guaranteed a permanent social work role working with children and families in Durham following successful completion of the programme and registration with Social Work England. 

Financial support

Participants receive a bursary for the duration of the programme. 

FrontLine

Frontline is a three year programme for people who want to work as social workers with children and families.

  • In year 1 - participants undertake a three week "readiness to practice" programme which is mostly online with five days of in-person teaching, and then work in a practice hub of five participants supported by a highly skilled and experienced social worker and tailored training. At the end of the year successful participants are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work and are able to register as social workers with Social Work England.
  • In year 2 - participants are employed by a supporting council and complete the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment with continued meetings and additional training from their Frontline practice tutor.
  • In year 3 - participants have the opportunity to complete a master's degree (fully funded) while still employed as a social worker.

The programme normally runs annually with applications opening in the Autumn. We expect to be supporting two practice hubs in Durham from Autumn 2024.

Participants on the programme who are supported by Durham are guaranteed a permanent social work role working with children and families in Durham following successful completion of the programme and registration with Social Work England. 

Financial support

Participants receive a bursary for the duration of the first year of the programme, and are employed in the second year. 

Registering to work as a social worker

To work as a social worker, you must register with Social Work England.

This helps to protect the public by ensuring that only qualified and competent practitioners are allowed to practice as social workers.

Once you have completed your social work qualification you will be eligible to apply to be registered as a social worker. See Social Work England - apply to join the register for more information. 

What happens next

If you would like to work in Durham after qualification find out more about our jobs on the North East Jobs Portal and our Social Work Academy.

Get experience of working with children and young people before applying

If you would like to build up more experience of work with children and young people before you apply for a social work qualifying programme you can find our jobs which don't require social work qualification on the North East Jobs Portal in the "Social Work - Children" section.

Contact us
Durham Resourcing