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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 BA (Honours) Social Work (England) is approved by Social Work England (SWE), and successful completion entitles graduates to apply for registration as a social worker. We are launching an apprenticeship route for employers to use their levy funding to develop new and existing staff to achieve this qualification.

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, it 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

Who is it for?

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 responsibility as qualified social workers.

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

What topics does the apprenticeship cover?

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
  • A practice-focused end-point assessment (EPA) that promotes an analytical approach to service improvements, while allowing apprentices to demonstrate they have achieved the knowledge skills and behaviours required by the apprenticeship standard

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

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 of working in partnership with employers to deliver a practice-based qualifying social work programme; working with around 300 health and social care employers across the UK and training over 6,000 registered social workers


Your apprentices will gain a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Work (England).

Entry requirements

All SWDA applicants must:

  • Have GCSE grade 9–4/A*–C/Functional/Key Skills Level 2 in English and mathematics, or a certified equivalent
  • Demonstrate IT competence through self-declaration
  • Achieve an International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) score of 7 if English is not their first language
  • 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

Programme structure

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

An apprenticeship requires at least 20% of an employee’s 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 workbased learning modules, which include a defined period of assessed practice learning. In these work-based 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 incorporates the end-point assessment (EPA) for the apprenticeship, where apprentices demonstrate they have acquired the knowledge, skills and behaviours that comprise the apprenticeship standard.

Online 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.

What support will you receive?

In addition to a designated academic and professional lead for social care/social work and account management support, we will deploy expert staff to support you and your apprentices:

  • Practice Tutor - Helps to integrate learning into the workplace across the entire programme and supports the delivery of the work-based learning modules on behalf of the University, working with the Practice Educator, Workplace Supervisor (where applicable) and employer.
  • Academic Tutor - Facilitates learning within the modules at each stage of the qualification through personalised tuition, delivery of online and face-to-face tutorials, marking of assignments and detailed feedback.
  • Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager - Supports employers to deliver their apprenticeship programmes  and manages the apprentice journey from start to completion. The Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager also provides employers with regular apprentice progress data.

Apprentices will also have access to our Student Support Team for advice and guidance on any aspect of their learning including support relating to any declared learning difficulty or disability.