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Developing capacity

Step Up to Social Work


The Department for Education (DfE) funded this study of trainees’ experiences of undertaking their social work qualification through a route known as Step Up to Social Work (usually referred to as Step Up). This training route was launched in England in 2009, and a first cohort started in September 2010. It was intended both to improve the quality of social workers entering the profession in children’s social work and to enable local employers (local authorities) to shape social work training. The aims of Step Up included: 1) attracting high achieving candidates into the social work profession; and, 2) allowing employers to play a significant role in the content of and support for the training of these candidates, in partnership with accredited higher education institutions providers.


2013 – 2014

Research team

Mary Baginsky and Jill Manthorpe (SCWRU)


Department for Education


The Step Up trainees were asked to complete an electronic survey in strict confidence. Following analysis, the anonymised numerical data were shared with the Department for Education.


The survey achieved a good response and the results were analysed and compared to the earlier study of the first set of trainees. The second cohort of Step Up trainees reported greater satisfaction with the programme, partly as a result of revision of its organisation.



Baginsky, M. & Manthorpe, J. (2014) 'The Views of Step Up to Social Work Trainees – Cohort 1 and Cohort 2', London: Department for Education. [and see SCWRU news item]

Baginsky, M. & Teague, C. (2013) 'Speaking from experience: the views of the first cohort of trainees of Step Up to Social Work', London: Department for Education.


Baginsky, M. & Manthorpe, J. (2016) 'The Views and Experiences of Step Up to Social Work Graduates: Two and a Half Years Following Qualification', British Journal of Social Work. 10.1093/bjsw/bcv137

Baginsky, M. & Manthorpe, J. (2014, online) 'Trainees' views of the Step Up to Social Work Programme', Social Work Education.


Baginsky, M. & Manthorpe, J. (2015) 'A fast track route into social work. Did they go or did they stay?', European Association of Schools of Social Work Conference: Social Work Education in Europe: towards 2025, Milan, 30 June.

See also

SCWRU news item about the Step Up to Social Work Graduation Conference held at King's in April 2015.

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