Monday, 10 October 2011

A New Academy

It’s good news that the much-criticised Birmingham Council children’s services department has jointly launched, with the University of Birmingham, an academy that will provide continuing social work development aimed at raising the standards of child protection social work in the city.

And it is very good news that the academy is not just for newly qualified staff, but for all of Birmingham's social workers.

Although the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, there is every reason to suppose that ventures of this sort will support the development of better-informed and more reflective practice. Staff retention and recruitment should also be improved if members of staff feel that their professionalism and knowledge are being recognised and valued in this way.

The real issue for an academy like this, however, is one of resources. And the most important resource is that of the time that social workers can give to participating in reflective and educational activities. Without very careful management of caseloads there will always be a danger that the academy will remain inaccessible to many hard-pressed practitioners. This is something Birmingham council managers will have to monitor very carefully if the academy is to be a success.