Liverpool City Council

Cheshire and Merseyside Social Work Teaching Partnership

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

The Cheshire and Merseyside Social Work Teaching Partnership (CMSWTP) is a Phase 3 DfE funded Partnership: 16 partners across the Cheshire and Merseyside footprint; 8 local authorities, 4 HEIs, 3 NHS Trusts and 1 Private Sector Volunteer organisation.

Partnership Vision:
To improve the life chances of children, young people, vulnerable adults and their families by improving the recruitment, retention and the training and development of Social Workers and their practice.

Key Aims:

1. Providing well-designed, challenging and sustainable social work education.

2. Recruiting the highest calibre entrants, who will be retained in the profession as resilient and highly effective social workers.

3. Creating an inter-agency derived curriculum.

4. Developing a sustainable learning culture across the partnership.

The partnership is managed by a team within Liverpool City Council (Host authority). The activity is being driven by the team to address the vision and the aims, demonstrating innovation, creativity and collaboration across a number of organisations with competing demands.

What are the key achievements?

Through pro-active/collaborative working, we have met and exceeded targets.
Developed a Career Opportunities Framework identifying additional opportunities that all Social Workers can access. Impact: anyone wishing to enter Social Work can see all of their career opportunities. Identified common admissions elements and implemented them across HEIs. Impact: ensures candidates with real potential join our Social Work programmes.
Delivered a recruitment event. Impact: students see career pathways with our partners, to help retain them.
Running a pilot providing students who have aspirations of joining the Social Work/Care sector with in-depth advice and work experience. Impact: these students will be able to make informed decisions and will have real practical experience when applying to our Social Work programmes.
Provided opportunities for Academics to spend time ‘in practice’ to keep them up to date, while providing opportunities for Practitioners to spend time in the HEIs. Devised a ‘Teaching Practitioner Status’ programme with a number of practitioners who passed the programme and are able to work more effectively with the HEIs. Impact: relevant appropriate curriculum that partners are supporting and delivering effectively

What are the key learning points?

The need to establish clear and robust management and reporting policies as early as possible and having the correct people in positions has been key. The interim evaluation highlighted that our effective management systems were “enabling change to happen in a more systematic, organised and inclusive way” (Mid Term Evaluation – Interface, May 2019).

The types of events and projects listed above would not have been possible without a strong project team overseeing the partnership working, who have been able to weave together the varied threads of each partner to support the partnership’s vision: “the project staff maintain momentum when partner attention is diverted” (Mid Term Evaluation – Interface, May 2019).

Establishing clear communication channels has also been a key learning, to ensure information is disseminated and cascaded effectively. Due to this being one of the larger partnerships, getting the information out to the wider members of the partnership not present at meetings has proved challenging, resulting in ‘bottle-neck’ of some being overloaded with information with others receiving nothing. Making use of all communication channels has been key to the success of communicating across such a large partnership.

Additional Comments:

The outstanding performance from the partner organisations within this partnership has enabled us to achieve what we have so far. Their commitment and willingness to share, compromise and support agreements, through being innovative and collaborative has enabled us to go beyond the criteria outlined by DfE, and achieve what we have so far. Having a shared common purpose and a real passion for what we want to achieve, ensuring we have an impact on and improve the life chances of all the young children, young people, vulnerable adults and their families across the Merseyside footprint.