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Medway academy to specialise in social worker training, working with the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University

By Jenni Horn

An academy to recruit and train social workers has been launched.

It comes a year after Medway Council received a damning report from Ofsted which highlighted the authority’s high dependency on agency workers.

At the time children’s director Barbara Peacock said her priority would be the “recruitment and retention” of social workers.

Thinkstock Image Library
Thinkstock Image Library

The academy, launched today, (Monday), will have several faculties including a student unit that will take up to 50 pupils each year.

Graduates will be mentored through every stage of their career, in a move being backed by experts in the field.

David Shemmings, professor of child protection research at the University of Kent, said: “Social workers face enormous pressures when trying to support families and protect children.

“An academy offers them the time to learn skills and digest contemporary research away from the stresses of their daily work.

“Alongside good supervision to address the emotional side of their work, the new Medway Social Work Academy promises a pioneering way of supporting practitioners to perform one of the most difficult roles in society”.

Annie Hudson, chief executive of The College of Social Work, added: “The academy is an exciting initiative; I am sure it will support and promote great social work practice in Medway.”

The 50 student placements will be in partnership with the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, and several London universities.

The academy will also focus on training for existing, more experienced social workers.

Barbara Peacock, head of children and adult services
Barbara Peacock, head of children and adult services

Ms Peacock said: “It is vital social workers have support during their first year and beyond and that is what the academy will do.

“It will provide the opportunity for newly qualified social workers to develop essential skills in a learning environment.

“We want to attract the very best graduates in the South East but our aim will then be to retain them through their careers with a range of programmes and benefits they won’t get elsewhere, particularly if they worked for an agency.”

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