Find out about the govt’s Step Up To Social Work programme

About the programme

The Step Up To Social Work programme:

  • is an intensive 14-month full-time programme
  • is for applicants who do not have a social work degree and want to become a social worker
  • offers you a £19,833 tax-free bursary during the programme
  • requires you to complete around 170 placement days of hands-on social work in a local authority whilst completing academic learning at a university
  • gives you a postgraduate diploma in social work and enables you to register as a qualified social worker with Social Work England

We particularly encourage applications from male and black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates as we aspire to make the programme, and the profile of social work practitioners, more diverse and representative of the children, families and communities they support.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, elements of the recruitment and the delivery of the programme may use a virtual approach.

Essential criteria

You’ll need:

  • a degree-level qualification in any discipline except social work from a UK higher education institute or an approved overseas equivalent
  • a minimum 2:1 level 6 degree qualification, for example, an honours degree or a graduate certificate, or, a minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a postgraduate qualification (level 7 or above) for example, a master’s degree or a postgraduate certificate/ postgraduate diploma
  • to have GCSEs in English or English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or the new grade 4 and above (or an approved equivalent)
  • to have completed your degree, final year students are not eligible to apply
  • to show evidence of your qualifications (such as certificates) and be able to upload this to the application form – this is mandatory for overseas qualifications (please ensure you have relevant electronic versions to hand prior to submitting your application)
  • to have a minimum of 6 months full-time (or equivalent) direct experience of working with vulnerable children, young people and/or families/carers or adults, either in a paid or voluntary capacity
  • to live in England
  • a driving licence and use of a vehicle in some locations, or to confirm that you’ll be able to travel for work if you do not have a vehicle
  • to complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

Applications which do not meet all of these criteria will not be assessed.

The skills and experience you’ll need to demonstrate

You’ll need to:

  • have the emotional resilience to become an effective social worker
  • understand social work theory and research
  • be aware of the risk indicators of different forms of harm to children
  • demonstrate intuition and logic in decision-making
  • show the ability to record accurate child and family assessments
  • have an understanding of the Knowledge and Skills Statements for child and family social workers – which all applicants will be assessed against
  • be familiar with the Professional Capabilities Framework for social workers (entry level)

Before you apply

You’ll need to:

  • decide which regional partnership (of local authorities and the university they partner with) is right for you – click here to access a map listing the different regional partnerships You’ll also see links to sites providing further information about the Step Up programme in a specific location.
  • check whether the local authority you’ve chosen requires you to have a driving licence and access to a vehicle – click here for details of which locations require a driving licence. Some local authorities are geographically dispersed and a driving licence and use of a vehicle is essential for attending placements. If you do not have a licence, this will not preclude you from the assessment process, you’ll need to confirm that you are able to travel for work purposes.

Please only make one application. If you submit more than one application, we will assess the first application that you submitted and withdraw any other applications you have made.

To Apply

Once you have decided on the regional partnership that you want to apply to join please click on Apply page and find the relevant regional partnership from the list to start the online application process.

You must apply by midday 7 April 2021.

After you’ve applied

If you are successful at the initial application stage you’ll:

  • be invited to a regional assessment centre (in person or virtual)
  • need to bring/show on screen the original certificates of all your qualifications for the assessment centre
  • need to bring/show on screen the originals of all identification documents
  • if you do not have your original qualification certificates or identification documents; you need to order copies of your certificates/ documents now to avoid the risk of being unable to complete the assessment centre

Please contact us via if you require any reasonable adjustments in order to complete the online application form. When completing the application form, you will be able to include details of any reasonable adjustments that will be required if you are invited to the assessment centre stage of the recruitment process.