Academy helps social workers on front line

New recruits and managers of Hertfordshire's award-winning social work Academy
New recruits and managers of Hertfordshire's award-winning social work Academy

A TOTAL of 15 newly qualified social workers have been chosen to join an academy that helps develop essential skills during their first year on the job.

Almost 200 people applied for a place on the award-winning Herts Academy, which was launched in 2009.

So far, 130 social workers have started their careers with the Herts County Council-run scheme, which has gained a national reputation for excellence.

The picture today is in stark contrast to three years ago when a surprise inspection showed serious failings in the way child abuse allegations were being dealt with.

The most worrying finding by Ofsted in October 2009 was a backlog of cases dating back to March that year. After the discovery managers and social workers worked on Saturdays to clear the cases.

The surge in referrals was put down to the high profile case of Baby P, the 17-month-old boy who died in London after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period.

Liam Way joined the academy in 2010. He said: “During my training my caseload was increased gradually allowing me time to reflect and think about what I was learning. Essential feedback from managers helped me to develop and progress in a way that provided me with the skills and knowledge to safeguard children and be an effective social worker.

“I am now working with a full caseload and have learned so much from my academy training.”