Career path for children's services social workers

Learn more about career progression for social workers in Suffolk County Council.

We believe social workers should have the opportunity to develop a rounded career therefore we encourage people to move teams, to shadow and to undertake secondments to enhance their experience and develop their interests.

At every stage of your career in Suffolk you will be given support and challenge – we want every social worker who joins Suffolk to enjoy a long and varied career here.

We offer a programme of post qualified masters modules through the University of East Anglia to support your career progression.

Career progression for social workers

Find out more about each type of social worker and what they do.

Suffolk has a proud record in supporting NQSWs. We want you to get the best experience possible from your AYSE (The Assessed and Supported Year in Employment).

We believe it is important for NQSWs to be out in real teams working with and learning from more experienced social workers.

This crucial first year is about providing you with the support and experience you need to develop. You will have a personal development plan with protected time, a protected caseload and reflective supervision.

Once you have completed your AYSE (The Assessed and Supported Year in Employment) you will become a fully-fledged social worker.

Through in-service training, and with supervision, you will have the opportunity to challenge yourself and work with complex situations and families.

Signs of Safety is our chosen practice framework. In keeping with that model, which you will have learnt all about on your AYSE, you will be given professional autonomy to do creative and fulfilling work with children and families to improve their outcomes and life chances.

As well as support from your manager and colleagues, you will get support from the Signs of Safety (SoS) practice leads. Suffolk has more SoS practice leads than any other local authority in England.

As you develop more experience, there will be opportunity for you to become an experienced social worker or a consultant social worker.

As an experienced social worker you will hold more complex cases, developing and enhancing your skills and abilities to work with the most complex families.

This role particularly suits those who want to remain directly in practice. You will almost definitely be a Signs of Safety Practice lead and involved in supporting colleagues. 

As a consultant social worker you do not hold a case load, but provide consultative advice, support and supervision to social workers in their teams.

Delegated responsibility allows you, with the support of your manager, to allocate cases, make threshold decisions and support and scrutinise performance and standards within the team.

Like the experienced social worker, you will almost definitely be a Signs of Safety practice lead. This post is an excellent stepping stone for those interested in becoming managers in the future.

The practice manager is responsible for motivating, developing and managing a team, ensuring the maintenance of standards and the quality of service provided.

They do this by managing performance, compliance, resources and budgets and collaborating with colleagues and multi-agency partners.

This key management role is accountable for the practice of the social workers within their team and has the duty to ensure all children referred receive a timely and proportionate service.

The service manager is responsible for leadership, direction and guidance for the service in their locality.

This is achieved through supporting the practice managers, consultant social workers and social workers in their teams to ensure they can provide the best possible level of service and ensure children are safeguarded.

They have the overall responsibility for budgets, recruitment, performance and strategic responsibilities within the service.