Could you be the difference?

Application deadline now extended to 3rd April

Do you have what it takes to ‘Step Up’ to social work?

Social work is both a challenging and rewarding career through which you can make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children and families. You will need to build relationships with families facing difficult times, show a lot of patience and be a good listener. You will also need good observational skills, analytical thinking and sound judgement to make the right decisions and protect children. Social work regularly tests resilience, stamina, and resolve - all of which you will need to succeed. Social work can be life changing for those you support. 

The Step Up to Social Work programme is a unique opportunity to receive support while you are training to start a new career in social work. On the 14-month training programme, you will receive hands-on experience of working in a real-life social work role through placements in a local authority whilst undertaking your qualification. Once you’ve successfully completed the course, you’ll be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work enabling you to apply to register and practice as a social worker.

What are the entry criteria?

We are looking for dedicated individuals who have experience of working with vulnerable children, young people, families or vulnerable adults and who can demonstrate their maturity and emotional resilience. We encourage applications from a diverse range of candidates and aim to have a workforce that represents the society that we serve. 

You will need to have a minimum 2:2 level 6 degree qualification in a subject other than Social Work, for example an honours degree or a graduate certificate to apply to the programme. You should also 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). You will need to show all of your original certificates to us as part of the application and assessment process. If you cannot find these, you can order replacements online.

What funding is available?

The Department for Education covers the cost of your university tuition on the programme and provides a tax-free bursary of £19,833 paid over the duration of the programme to support you during your training.  

Applicants should seek advice on how the tax-free bursary could impact on free childcare or other benefits you may currently be entitled to.

Where will I study and undertake my placements?

The North East Regional Partnership is made up of 12 Local Authorities and our university partner, Manchester Metropolitan University.

The programme consists of face-to-face academic sessions, online teaching and self-directed learning, as well as 170 days of placement activity. Face-to-face activities are delivered centrally within the North East Region (typically Sunderland). Placements will take place within the Local Authority you are allocated to for the duration of the programme. We try to place you in one of your 3 preferred Local Authorities and will discuss options with you when finalising allocations. We typically have placements in a wide range of teams, giving our students an insight into different aspects of Social Work.

We have worked together as the North East Regional Partnership to deliver the Step Up programme since 2015, and we have a strong track record of successfully training and employing our students on completion of their studies.

To find out more about Manchester Metropolitan University and the North East Regional Partnership, visit:

The Partnership has been awarded 52 places for Cohort 8 of the programme, shared across the 12 Local Authorities below:

What happens after the course?

Your 14-month programme will pass very quickly, and if your local authority has vacancies, you will be guaranteed an interview for a social worker role in children and families statutory social work. Since joining the programme in 2015, we have successfully trained over 160 social workers through the programme.

The starting salary for a social worker in most authorities in this region is around £30k per annum.

How to apply

Recruitment for the programme will open in late February 2023, with assessment centres scheduled for June/July 2023, and a January 2024 programme start date. The programme runs once every two years, dependent on government funding, so if you are interested, make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to apply. The closing date is 3rd April at 12 noon.

For more information about the application process visit:

What do our students say?

Here are a few words of encouragement from our current students. Come along to the Drop-In sessions to speak with them directly.

“I would highly recommend Step Up for many reasons. I feel it has given me the knowledge, skills and confidence to become a great social worker in a short space of time. It’s the best decision I made applying for the course. Although it is fast paced, it’s manageable and you get lots of support. The course is very well organised and lecturers/social workers have been amazing”.

“The Step Up to Social Work pathway is an intensive and very fast paced course.  You need to be very organised and proactive to meet the demands of four days a week at work placement balanced with academic study time. MMU are very organised and provide lots of support along the journey.  The tutors are experienced and strive to increase your knowledge base and confidence.  On placement you are allocated a Practice Educator who supports your development. I have been stretched to limits didn't consider an option for myself.  Excited to graduate in a few months and I have a job offer already.”

“The Step Up programme utilises a combination of intensive academic work and practical experience to ensure you are equipped to be a great Social Worker. The course is fast paced and challenging throughout but highly rewarding as you begin to develop your skills and work within your Social Work teams. Academic staff are supportive and second to none. Don’t be hesitant to apply, Step Up will change your life”

“I have had a very positive experience being on the Step up to social work program. It’s very fast paced and it challenges you in more ways than you could think but overall the experience has been phenomenal. The academic side of the program goes hand in hand with the practical side. The professionals involved in your Step Up journey are very supportive, caring and extremely knowledgeable. I would say we are like one big family. The support is available when you need it and even when you don’t. It’s challenging, it takes a lot of determination, but rewarding when you’re working with families and using your academic knowledge to support them to build a positive future".

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