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Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship

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Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship

Social workers support and protect some of society’s most deprived and vulnerable people. They require a high level of motivation, commitment and a qualifying degree. The Open University’s Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship (SWDA) is approved by Social Work England (SWE), and successful completion entitles graduates to apply for registration as a social worker.

Our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship is a practice-based learning programme that combines on- and off-the-job learning and development, delivered flexibly around the demands of your workplace. Apprentices will develop new skills and knowledge whilst carrying out real work as part of a team in a social care setting.

Through completion of this apprenticeship, learners will gain:

  • Practice experience and evidence of assessed competency in the workplace
  • New skills and knowledge preparing them to take on more demanding roles within social care delivery
  • A professionally qualifying degree in Social Work

For employers, the programme provides the opportunity to develop and retain current staff as well as attract new talent. Because apprentices study alongside work, they will put their learning into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of service users.

The programme will enable you to:

  • Develop your workforce according to an employer-defined standard
  • Increase staff retention by offering career progression
  • Maximise the apprenticeship levy and embed apprenticeships in workforce planning and service transformation.

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Why choose The Open University’s Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship?

  • Delivered flexibly around the demands of your organisation, using our tutor-supported, media-rich online learning methods.
  • Learning is accessible 24/7 and can be delivered to various locations using our tried-and-trusted educational technology, providing a consistent programme for multiple staff, regardless of where they are based and when they study.
  • Our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship is based on over 20 years’ successful experience working in partnership with employers to deliver a practice-based qualifying social work programme, training over 6,000 registered social workers.

In the following videos, Louise Wannell and Claire Partington, two Social Worker Degree apprentices at the City of York Council explain why they chose to do this apprenticeship and why the OU is such a good fit for them.


The programme is suitable for new and existing social care support staff who are responsible for delivering direct services and who have the potential to take on greater challenges and responsibilities as qualified social workers.

It supports the development of social work apprentices across a wide range of settings including services for adults, children and families, and mental health. The programme equips apprentices to work with professionals from other organisations, such as the police, healthcare organisations, schools and probation services.

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Alongside the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) apprenticeship requirements, employers must also commit to the following programme requirements for the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship:

  • Organise a current enhanced DBS check, with checks against all registers including both children and vulnerable adults.
  • Support students by giving full-time release for the duration of the practice learning placements and release to attend practice learning workshops.
  • Provide appropriate practice placements with suitable supervision in accordance with the requirements of the profession.
  • Identify a member of staff to make the practice learning arrangements and liaise with the programme (the Agency Coordinator).
  • Appoint a practice verifier (to verify 10 days of practice learning).
  • Appoint practice educators (or a workplace supervisor) for each of the two practice placements.

For further information, download the SWDA Employer Information document.

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All SWDA applicants must:

  • Have GCSE grade 9–4/A*–C/Functional/Key Skills Level 2 in English and maths, or a certified equivalent
  • Demonstrate IT competence through self-declaration
  • Have an enhanced DBS with lists check (i.e. checks against all registers including both children and vulnerable adults) dated within one year prior to starting the programme
  • Complete an application pack consisting of:
    • Application form
    • Declaration of Suitability for Social Work form
    • Equal Opportunities form
  • Take part in an interview and assessment process

For the latest information on vaccination requirements for frontline health and social care workers, please check the NHS England website.

Below is a summary of the eligibility criteria as set by the government for apprentices. For further information, see the Government funding rules.

To be eligible for government funding, at the start of the apprenticeship, apprentices must:

  • Be over 16 years old
  • Not be in full-time education
  • Have the right to live and work in England
  • Spend at least 50% of their working hours in England

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The Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship consists of a 360-credit degree programme of essential knowledge and skills including:

  • Social work theory and legislation.
  • Applying learning to practice and developing critical and analytical skills.
  • The differing approaches to person-centred care.
  • The development of health and social care in the UK and the political and contemporary context in which care takes place.
  • Theories, concepts and professional principles that underpin social work practice.
  • A range of research methods and their application to social care practice.

The subject matter is interdisciplinary, derived from psychology, sociology, social policy, law and social work studies.

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Depending on the intensity of study, the apprenticeship programme can be completed in three years.

An apprenticeship requires at least 20% of an employee’s working time to be allocated for off-the-job study. Our tutor-supported online learning gives you the flexibility to pick the most suitable times proactively and reactively to minimise disruption to service provision. This means apprentices are rarely required to be on day release at the same time and frontline services are protected. It also means travel costs and expenses are minimised.

The programme has six modules. The first two provide an introduction to the organisation of social care in the UK and develop apprentices’ awareness of the different components of good social work practice. The third module covers legal issues related to social care and social work, including the regulation of social care decision-making.

Apprentices then progress through two practice-focused work-based learning modules, which include a defined period of assessed practice learning. In these work-based and blended learning modules, apprentices will be required to reflect on their role and document their acquisition of skills and competencies in their portfolio. The final module consists of consolidation of learning in preparation for undertaking the apprenticeship End Point Assessment. 

Online and blended module delivery is both varied and interactive, using rich media formats that engage and enthuse apprentices on their journey. Learning is perfectly suited to staff working shifts, as it can be accessed 24/7 on computers, tablets and mobile devices, and can be immediately applied into working practice. Online forums and discussion groups allow apprentices to learn from other apprentices in different service settings and with different backgrounds.

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The Open University has the experience and support in place to help apprentices succeed and make a positive impact on practice.

In addition to designated account management support, the OU will deploy expert staff to support your organisation and your apprentices. They will work collaboratively with the relevant roles in your organisation:

Practice Tutor (PT)

The PT is a key role and provides individual support to apprentices to progress and complete all the requirements of the apprenticeship or professional programme they have enrolled in. The support is tailored to the context of each learner’s professional duties and their workplace environment. Regular engagement with each learner’s line manager or work-based supervisor is a critical component of this role. In addition, the PT coaches the apprentice to integrate their academic learning with their professional work, guide them in the development of their portfolio and prepares them for their end-point assessment.

There are further roles and teams that support both apprentices and employers, and that work very closely with the PTs.

Academic Tutors

The role of the Academic Tutor is to support success by using, interpreting and building on the teaching resources produced by the OU and provided to apprentices. They monitor progression, mark assignments, provide personalised feedback and work in partnership to support the apprentices’ academic, personal and professional development. In addition, Academic Tutors provide pastoral support to apprentices. They are sometimes also referred to as Associate Lecturers or Module Tutors.

Apprenticeship Enrolment and Support Team (AEST)

The AEST supports apprentices throughout their Apprenticeship journey. This team of friendly Senior Advisors can offer advice and support for a range of queries apprentices may have whilst studying their modules, whether that be for advice on an upcoming assignment or exam, navigation around the OU online learning platforms or when they are experiencing difficult circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. This support team is able to reach out to a wide range of relevant teams within the University to help apprentices get back on track again.

Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Managers (APDM)

This role supports employers to recruit and onboard applicants on to the chosen apprenticeship programme. APDMs provide information, advice and guidance and carry out an initial assessment to ensure the apprenticeship is the right one at the right level for the individual. APDMs provide quarterly management information reports to employers detailing learners progress and put interventions in place where an apprentice is in need of support. Employers will have a named APDM to be the primary contact for apprenticeship delivery throughout the programme.

Line Manager / Mentor

This is a person in the workplace who supports the choice of apprenticeship programme for their employee or applicant and is involved in the onboarding process with their applicant. Line managers facilitate the apprentice to take off the job training time and fully engage in quarterly review meetings with the Practice Tutor and apprentice. Line managers have regular one to one meetings with their apprentices to integrate the apprenticeship into performance and development. They are key to enabling a successful work-based project and completion of the apprentice’s end-point assessment.

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For a more detailed look at our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship, download our brochure or contact our business team advisors.

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The Education and Skills Funding Agency requires that at least 20 per cent of an apprentice’s working week is dedicated to off-the-job learning. The Open University’s tutor-supported blended learning gives the employer and the apprentice the flexibility to pick the most suitable times around organisational and personal needs – minimising the impact on day-to-day productivity.

Travel costs and expenses are also minimised, as most apprentices don’t have to attend day or block release sessions.

At present the face-to-face days on the programme are being delivered via online meeting rooms. It is a compulsory requirement for learners to attend these days. The Open University is currently reviewing the safe delivery of on-campus face-to-face days and the programme team will be guided by the university and the Statutory Health Profession Regulators in reviewing online and on-campus delivery. Employers and learners will be advised in advance of any changes to the delivery pattern.

Online delivery is both varied and interactive, using rich media formats that engage and enthuse apprentices on their journey. Learning can be accessed 24/7 on computers, tablets and mobile devices. Online forums and tutorials as well as email and telephone communication are used to support apprentices throughout the programme.

Team in a meeting

INFORMATION FOR EMPLOYERS

Develop the relevant skills for your organisation, improve productivity and achieve higher staff morale.

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INFORMATION FOR APPRENTICES

Earn while you learn and develop the skills you need to gain access to sectors you want to work in.

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Education & Skills Funding Agency European Union - European Social Fund Apprenticeships

Programme Summary

Location: England


Duration

  • 3 - 3.5 years

Qualifications achieved at the end of the programme

  • BA (Hons) in Social Work (England)
  • Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship awarded by the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE)

Level and standard


Specific entry requirements


Recognition of prior learning (RPL)


End-point assessment (EPA)

  • Integrated

Additional information

Contact us

For a more detailed look at our Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

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