Meet Louise Shorthouse, Professional Practice Educator, Social Work Academy at Coventry City Council. Here she talks about her role and some of the training and support her team have put in place for social workers.

Louise qualified as a social worker in 2013 and went into child protection. She stayed working in frontline practice until 2019, when she moved into learning and development to explore how she could support those on the frontline.

She says, “It was great to move into a role where I can use what I’ve learnt on the frontline to assess how the training is delivered to ensure it is accessible and really supports social workers.”

We asked Louise what she loves about her team

Louise talks about the positivity that attracted her to Coventry. She says, “There is a real buzz in the team I work with and we all want to do our best to support others. It was this positive attitude that really won it for me – it was a breath of fresh air.”

Coventry is incredibly diverse in terms of the demographics. She says, “It’s great to be working in a city environment. The contextual safeguarding, gangs and exploitation children are exposed to is something you see every day.”

What training is on offer to social workers?

Louise and her team work with people who are at various stages in their social work career, from students to newly qualified social workers who join their award-winning Social Work Academy and practice educators in training. They provide formal training courses, support with degrees and coaching and mentoring so there is something for everyone at whatever point they are in their career.

She is responsible for leading the National assessment and accreditation system (NAAS) pilot, which was put on hold due to the pandemic but due to start again in the Spring – a voluntary accreditation for child and family social workers and Practice supervisors.

Louise and her team have also recently developed a return to social work programme to encourage experienced social workers, who may have been out of social work for a while, to come back into the profession. She says, “We recognise a lot has changed over the last few years and we want to help people get back into the profession. We have developed a support package that helps social workers resurface their core skills and get up to date with key changes to legislation that they need to be aware of.”

The team have had to shift the way they deliver training over lockdown and they’ve tried to provide additional support where they can. They ran a webinar focusing on ‘Social Work in a Global Pandemic’ – looking at what they need to do differently and sharing learning.

We asked Louise why she loves working in social work

She says, “We are so privileged to do job we do. We work so closely and intimately with families – they will often share stories that no one else has ever heard before. Whilst it’s sometimes difficult to listen to these challenges there is no other job as fantastic.

“The differences and changes I have seen with some of the families I have worked with will stay with me for the rest of my life. I would not change anything in the six years I worked as a social worker and I have no doubt I will return to work directly with families and children again at some point in my career.”

If you would like to share your story and find out about our free virtual events please register here.