Barnet Council will today (25 July) officially launch an innovative ‘academy’ aimed at recruiting, developing and helping retain social workers.
The Barnet Children Practice Academy (BCPA) will provide a clearly structured way for the council’s social workers and other family services staff to develop with additional training - helping to foster best practice, and ensure the best possible outcomes for the families they support.
The new academy will provide ongoing training and mentoring to social workers and staff of all levels.
The academy is part of the council’s continuing drive to improve services, and will also form an important part of the council’s improvement journey following Barnet’s recent Ofsted report.
Its structure is modelled on that of a university, with eight ‘faculties’, each lead by a faculty ‘dean’.
The BCPA has been created under the guidance of Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly, who has established similar academies at other local authorities in Essex, Croydon, Medway and Norfolk.
It will cover the spectrum of experience, with staff grouped into faculties ranging from student social workers and newly qualified social workers, to advanced and senior social workers.
There are also faculties based around recruitment, selection and staff retention, and faculties focused on staff working in early intervention, support services and for managers.
The academy’s work will include developing groups to focus on best practice and up to date and relevant research, as well as working to improve specialist knowledge and ensure these skills are being embedded.
Dame Lorna Boreland-Kelly said: “With my own background in social work, I am delighted and proud to be associated with the Barnet Children Practice Academy at the very start and am eager to see how it evolves. The BCPA is well placed to recruit, develop and retain workers who are children and family focused."
Councillor Reuben Thompstone, Chairman of the Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee, said: “I’m delighted that the Barnet Children Practice Academy is up and running to really help our social workers and other family service staff to grow professionally, and ultimately help ensure there is the best possible support for the families they are in contact with.
“Social workers are an incredibly important part of what the council does and it is often a very difficult and challenging job.”
“Training and mentoring is really important in making sure they are equipped with the knowledge and experience they need throughout their career, and this academy is going to play a crucial role in achieving this and helping Barnet work towards becoming the most family friendly borough in London by 2020.”