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West Sussex announce ‘Academy for social work team’

West Sussex County Council has announced an overhaul of its social work team, including the creation of an “academy” to support new recruits and prevent burnout.

The academy is set to cost around £500,000 and will provide “enhanced support in a more structured environment” for social workers in their first year of practice, a West Sussex Council report says. 

They hope to better prepare newly qualified children’s social workers for their career and help ensure they stay with the council long-term rather than leave due to work pressures. The council has also restructured its social work team to ensure that more experienced social workers are on hand to deal with complex cases. The new hierarchy includes a service leader, group managers, practice managers and advanced practitioners. 

In a report to the council’s children and young people’s services select committee the two senior officers say: “Current data indicates that social workers who leave certain key areas refer to excess work pressures and poor work/life balance within exit interviews.”

Lack of administrative support was named as another factor in staff leaving. As a result the council has invested £592,000 this year in additional support staff. 

The funding for the additional administrative investment is initially for one year, but a business case estimates the move could save the council £2m a year.