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What makes the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship at Worcester special?

This innovative programme incorporates a combination of on-the-job training and university learning to support apprentices to achieve the threshold standards for a professional programme in social work.

Social Workers work in partnership with adults, carers, children, and families in a variety of settings to enable positive change and improve wellbeing in people's lives. Social Workers may specialise in a particular client group, play a key role in helping to protect vulnerable people from harm or abuse and support individuals to live independently.

Social Work Apprentices can go on to pursue careers as Registered Social Workers in a diverse range of roles. These roles could involve, working with older adults, people with a physical or learning disability or mental health need, working with children in care, child protection, young offenders or adoption and fostering.

Alternatively, graduates could choose alternative career paths working in relevant fields such as education, family support, community development, or working with young people in a range of settings.

*The Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship programme is pending approval by Social Work England.



Key Features

  • This programme aims to develop social workers who are employed in a Social Worker apprenticeship role, ready for professional practice and can successfully work within a dynamic, increasingly complex social welfare context.

  • This course aims to enable apprentices to become reflective, adaptable practitioners who recognise the role of the professional social worker in managing the competing rights and needs of individuals and groups, and who demonstrate commitment to anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice principles.

  • This programme provides apprentices with knowledge, skills and behaviour to work effectively within an inter-disciplinary context and within integrated social welfare systems, collaborating with other health and social care professionals and services.

  • We strive to promote partnership working with people with lived experiences of social care services within professional social work practice and within the design, planning, delivery and evaluation of the degree programme.

  • Apprentices will be encouraged to become critically reflective practitioners, with the ability to apply contemporary knowledge, theory and research evidence to underpin professional practice.


Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship.

This programme aims to provide opportunities for apprentices to achieve the SWE Professional Standards (2019) for social workers and the BASW Professional Capabilities Framework (2018) at End of Final Placement level,  leading to eligibility to apply to join the social worker register with SWE. This will also include the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship (SWDA) Standards (2022).

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

You must be employed and complete an initial application via the employing organisations recruitment and selection process.

Candidates should possess the following/or be in process of obtaining:

  • A minimum of three months contemporary, relevant practice experience, paid or unpaid, verified by reference (See below)
  • At least 4 GCSEs Grade C or above including English and Maths (or equivalent)
  • Relevant Level 3 qualifications are accepted. For example, BTEC National Diploma in Health and Social Care

Other equivalent qualifications may be considered. Applications from mature applicants will be assessed on their ability to benefit from and be successful on the course via a range of alternative qualifications and experience. This is often demonstrated through the achievement of a level 3 qualification in a relevant area.

Candidates who meet the criteria for admission, and have been selected by their employer are invited to attend for an interview.

Successful applicants will also need to evidence:

  • Satisfactory occupational health check and an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check. Both will be completed/processed by the apprentices employer, and costs met by the employing organisation.
  • Confirmation of the ability to use basic IT facilities
  • Where English is a second language, IELTS Level 7 will need to be evidenced


Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) requirements

An enhanced disclosure will be required prior to beginning any work-based element of a module. The cost of this will be met by the apprentice’s employer. Apprentices may be required to apply for further enhanced DBS checks before commencing each practice learning experience. 

Course content

Course content

The Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship meets the requirements of the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship Standards (2022).

Year one (level 4)

  • Context for Professional Practice
  • Foundations of Law and Policy
  • Skills Development
  • Theories of Life Course Development
  • Ethics, Values and Anti-Oppressive Practice
  • Professional Development 1: Building resilience and self-care for practice

Year two (level 5)

  • Law, policy, and safeguarding practice with adults
  • Law, policy, and safeguarding practice with children & families
  • Understanding research in social work practice
  • Practice 1
  • Professional Development 2 – Assessment & Intervention

Year 3 (level 6)

  • Dissertation
  • Practice 2
  • Contemporary practice
  • Professional Development 3 – working within organisations
  • End Point Assessment module
Teaching and assessment

Teaching and assessment

Learning, teaching and assessment

The Social Work Degree Apprenticeship programme acknowledges that social work is a practice-based, professional, and academic discipline and therefore the integration of theory and practice are central to all aspects of the curriculum. Apprentices who successfully complete the programme will be eligible to apply to register with Social Work England as social workers and contribute to the ongoing development of professional social work practice. The programme has a particular emphasis on supporting apprentice’s personal and professional development, building emotional resilience and self-care skills alongside practice focused and problem-solving skills to prepare apprentices for the transition to qualified practice as a social worker.

The programme team will use a range of apprentice centred, traditional, and innovative learning and teaching approaches, in both the academic modules and practice placements, seeking to recognise the diversity in learning styles amongst apprentices. Drawing on contemporary practice literature and research, the programme team seek to integrate evidence informed practice principles across the curriculum. The design and delivery of the course programme has been developed to reflect key principles of equality, diversity and inclusion to support best practice.

The programme will include a mixture of off the job, blended learning and teaching on campus and online, alongside on the job training with employers and completion of mandatory placement. Individual and small group tutorials will usually be arranged online as this has proven to be convenient and popular with apprentices. The team will collect feedback regularly from apprentices on the approaches used and lecturers will reflect on teaching practice to accommodate the needs and strengths of the apprentice cohort.

The University of Worcester has an established reputation in partnership working through planning, teaching, assessment, consultancy, and evaluation with people with lived experience of social care services and of providing care for others through the IMPACT group. The IMPACT group brings together people with diverse experiences of using health and social care services - who have consolidated their presence across teaching and learning, recruitment, research, and consultancy within the school. Building on this firm foundation and commitment, the IMPACT group has played a central role in the design and development of the BA (Hons) Social Work. Apprentices and staff will have the opportunity to learn from the experience, skills, and knowledge of people with lived experience throughout the programme.

In addition, the programme team co-operate with employers, social work practitioners, educators, and managers from our partner agencies within the statutory and independent social work sector and are active members of the West Midland Social Work Teaching Partnership, to ensure that teaching and practice within the programme remains relevant, contemporary, and responsive to the changing professional context.


The University places emphasis on enabling apprentices to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip them for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement. A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support from Student Services and Library services and the Apprenticeship Tutor role enables apprentices to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will help them to flourish and be successful. 

Learning strategies

  • Teaching takes place through formal lectures, seminars, and workshops, both classroom-based and via the virtual classroom. Lectures include class-based activities and discussions alongside formal teaching sessions to support students’ active participation in learning. Teaching is supported by contributions from a range of stakeholders including people with lived experience of services and of caring roles, current practitioners, and managers across the welfare arena.

  • Academic skills teaching supports students / apprentices to develop key skills in academic writing, planning and structuring assessments, selection of sources and referencing, critical reflection and analysis, models of reflection as well as introducing a range of digital skills for both academic and professional practice. Lecturers provide feedback to students verbally or in writing on all formative, summative and practice-based assessments, while students are expected to participate in peer feedback processes to support mutual learning at individual and group level.

  • The teaching team use a range of learning activities to support students’ active participation and development, including case studies, directed and independent study, group work tasks, problem and enquiry-based learning, student-led discussions and debates, role-play and skills simulation and engaging with on-line learning activities. Use of the online learning environment also supports students to engage with core learning and guides students to supplementary learning materials - including contemporary journal articles, multimedia resources, use of online forums and other e-learning strategies.

  • Apprentices receive tutorial support from their Apprenticeship Tutor , meeting every 12 weeks to review progress. Additional tutorial support is provided by Module leaders including the provision of assessment tutorials to prepare for assessment submission. Apprentices will also engage in regular three-way learning progress reviews, (ILPRs), involving the apprentice, their employer and their Apprenticeship Tutor to review the apprentice's progress against the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours of the social worker degree apprenticeship standards (2022).
  • Apprentices are required in their first year of study to complete a period (2/3 days) of shadowing a registered social worker as part of the SOWK1103 Skills Development module.

  • Apprentices undertake 2 contrasting practice placements in year 2 & year 3, providing opportunities for students to integrate their academic learning within contemporary practice contexts. During placement, students have protected learning time and are supported by a Practice Educator who oversees their practice. Apprentices will be employed, and in a role that enables them to gain practice learning. Throughout the duration of the apprenticeship, apprentices will have protected learning time and be supported by a Practice Educator (appointed and employed by the employer) who oversees their practice.

Contact time

Apprentices will complete up to 6 hours of face-to-face teaching and learning each week,  across three semesters, with 1-2 hours of asynchronous online learning in addition. In years 2 and 3, students also undertake practice placements, which they are required to attend on a full time (c.35 hours a week) basis. In year 2, this takes place in semester 2 for 70 days. In year 3, this takes place across both semesters for 100 days.

Independent self-study

In addition to the contact time, apprentices are expected to undertake significant additional hours of personal self-study per week (approximately 7 – 15 hours per week).  This will involve completing online activities, reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and online, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including The Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources.

Teaching staff

Apprentices will receive teaching from a team whose expertise and knowledge are matched closely to the content of the modules on the course. All of the teaching team currently retain their registration as social workers with Social Work England. The team includes academics with a wide range of practice expertise from a range of practice contexts in the statutory and voluntary sectors including safeguarding, older adults practice, children and families practice, mental health, youth justice, adoption and fostering, substance use, learning disabilities as well as experience of managerial and strategic development roles. The programme is also supported through the participation of experienced practitioners from our partner social work agencies who and people with lived experience of services and as carers from the University IMPACT group.

A range of contemporary social work research and development activity informs the team's teaching. In addition, 90 per cent of course lecturers are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy and hold a higher education teaching qualification. Further details about the staff can be found by visiting our staff profiles.


The course provides opportunities to test understanding and learning informally through the completion of practice or ‘formative’ assignments. Each module has one or more formal or ‘summative’ assessments, which are graded and count towards the overall module grade.

Assessment methods include written essays and reports, patchwork assessments, group and individual presentations, open book examination, assessed skills simulations, reflective accounts, placement portfolio and assessments of direct practice and a Dissertation. A typical formal summative assessment pattern for each year of the course is:

Year 1 (Level 4): 1 x group presentation; 3 x essays; 1 x poster presentation; 1 x exam; 1 x patchwork assessment; 1 x assessed skills simulation; 1 x skills portfolio

Year 2 (Level 5): 2 x individual presentation; 1 x research report; 1 x case study assessment report; 1 x practice portfolio, 3 x direct observations of practice; 2 reflective practice records.

Year 3 (Level 6): 1 x dissertation; 1 x essay; 1 x individual presentation; 1 x practice portfolio; 3 x direct observations of practice; 3 critical practice records.

Apprentices will receive feedback on practice assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback is intended to support learning and apprentices are encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate. Apprentices are provided with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of submission. 

Formative Assessment and Assessment of professional practice

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is an important feature across the programme and the teaching team believes it has a fundamental role to play in Apprentice learning and development. Apprentices are strongly advised to engage with all formative assessment in order that they receive regular feedback on their progress, to allow them to self-assess their achievement. Apprentices will receive formative feedback from several sources including teaching staff, their academic tutor, visiting lecturers and practitioners, service user and carer colleagues from IMPACT and from other apprentices. Apprentices will meet with their personal academic tutors up to four times each year to review their learning from their formative and summative feedback. Apprentices will meet with their tutors for ILPR’s every 12 weeks during the academic year.

All level 4 apprentices complete a written formative assessment within 6 weeks of beginning the course and receive feedback from their Apprenticeship Tutor to help them prepare for their subsequent summative assessments in Semester 1. Other formative assessments may include class quizzes and weekly learning reviews with peer assessment and feedback; opportunities for review of assessment exemplars; use of Turnitin software to support development of academic and referencing skills; skills simulation and feedback from other apprentices and from service users and carer colleagues from IMPACT; opportunities to rehearse presentation skills informally in small groups and receive peer assessment; mock examinations and class tests; opportunities for debates and larger group discussion and peer evaluation; personal reflection and use of supervision in placements and with academic tutors.

Throughout the programme apprentices are supported to maintain a formative reflective journal which is shared as part of the personal academic tutoring system, and to formally review their progress, including performance within formative and summative assessments with their personal academic tutors.


Assessment of Professional Practice

Assessment of Professional Practice commences with the “Readiness to Practice” assessment contained within the Skills Development module at level 4 and continues through the 2 practice placements (70 days at level 5 and 100 days at level 6). People with lived experience are involved in the assessment of practice. An IMPACT member assesses apprentices' “readiness for practice” in Level 4 within a simulated home visit while feedback from people with lived experience is included in the apprentices’ portfolio at all 3 levels

As with academic learning, assessment of professional practice is structured to be incremental and is assessed at the 3 threshold levels identified in the Professional Capabilities Framework. (BASW, 2018)  Apprentices will be assessed using the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship Standards (2022)  which have been mapped to the PCF standards. This enables all apprentices to build towards the point where they can be assessed as having met the required standard to qualify at level 6.

Assessment of professional practice is undertaken based on a portfolio of evidence, which in the case of the Readiness to Practice module will include feedback from an assessed role play activity, a supervision activity, a shadowing activity, a biographical piece and an observation report. The practice placement portfolios include reflective accounts of apprentices' practice during placement, examples of key activities such as assessment and planning, direct observations of practice, and feedback from people with lived experience of services.

Assessment of practice is made on a pass/fail basis by a Practice Educator who meets the Practice Educator Professional Standards (PEPS) for social work (BASW,2020). The practice educator will provide a report supporting their assessment which is mapped to the relevant domains of the Professional Capabilities Framework (BASW, 2018).

While the responsibility for apprentice assessment rests with the practice educator, a training team including the onsite supervisor (where appropriate) and an academic provide robust and consistent arrangements for the assessment of practice learning (For apprentices their employer will attend all review meetings). Practice Educators and Onsite Supervisors are invited to attend a joint briefing where the requirements for assessment of professional practice are clearly outlined, along with any curriculum updates.

A module handbook outlines the portfolio requirements clearly for apprentices, including the capabilities that need to be evidenced and the required level at which they are assessed.

Apprentices are required to complete the agreed number of days for each practice placement and the Practice Educator signs this off.

The portfolios are quality assured and moderated through the Quality Portfolio Assessment Panel (QPAP), which is made up of academic staff, practice educators, and people with lived experience. Apprentices and Practice Educators receive written feedback to support quality development of portfolios and Practice Educator reports.

Apprentices, Practice Educators, onsite supervisors, and tutors complete a Quality Assurance Practice Learning (QAPL) survey. This process is used to quality assure placements and a general report is produced to examine themes and individual feedback is given to placement providers.

Apprentices will be assessed using the Social Worker Degree Apprenticeship Standards (2022)

Placement Support

Prior to commencing their first practice learning experience apprentices have an induction, which includes professional responsibilities and expected conduct, introduction to practice learning documentation and policy and guidance. They also attend joint briefings (attended by their Practice Educator and where appropriate Onsite Supervisor) prior to staring each practice learning experience.

All placements are co-ordinated by the Practice Learning Coordinator. Every apprentice will be supported in placement by a training team, which consists of a tutor from the course team (usually their academic tutor), a Practice Educator and where appropriate an onsite supervisor. For apprentices, tripartite individual learner progress reviews, are scheduled every 12 weeks, involving the apprentice, their employer and a university representative to monitor the apprentices’ progression and achievement against the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the Social Worker Apprenticeship Standard (2022).

Apprentices are supernumerary and supervised while in the practice learning environment, with the Practice Educator having primary responsibility for supporting and supervising learning experiences. Practice Educators will meet BASW (2020) Practice Educator Professional Standards.



Upon successful completion of the social work degree, graduates are eligible to register as social workers with Social Work England (SWE) and to apply for employment or progress into higher forms of education. Often apprentices will be offered employment by their employing organisation.

Social Work Graduates work in a range of social work and non-social work settings including:

  • Adults with mental health needs
  • Adults with physical / learning disabilities
  • Older adults and dementia care
  • Children in care
  • Youth justice contexts
  • Child protection
  • Adoption and fostering
  • Working in independent and voluntary sector agencies
  • Domestic abuse services
  • education support
  • community development roles

Links with employers

The University has strong partnerships with local authorities in the region through our membership of the West Midlands Social Work teaching partnership as well as through local partnerships with our immediate local authority neighbours. Together we are involved in ensuring the curriculum is current and prepares graduates robustly for post qualifying work. Local authorities increasingly see practice placements as a means of preparing their future workforce and often results in apprentices securing employment before qualification. The University works closely with local partners in the delivery of post-qualifying social work training and continuous professional development events.


The University of Worcester has established links with a range of employers and placement providers. These include:

  • Worcestershire County Council Adults Services
  • Worcestershire Children First
  • Herefordshire Council
  • Gloucestershire County Council
  • West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership
  • Barnardo’s


These partners support both course development and delivery by informing course design and teaching staff of the skills and competencies they require, by providing opportunities for apprentice workplace visits, and by giving talks and demonstrations to apprentices. This course has been developed with the support and input of partners to ensure that it is designed with their needs in mind. In this way, the course will maximise the employment opportunities for its graduates.


Fees and funding

Fees for this apprenticeship will be paid by the Education and Skills Funding Agency via the employers apprenticeship levy.

How to apply

How to apply

All applications are through your employer, and you must have the support of your employer to complete the Social Worker (integrated degree) apprenticeship. Please discuss the possibility of completing the apprenticeship with your manager.

Who to contact in the case of queries

Please speak to your employer if you are interested in the Social Worker (integrated degree) apprenticeship.

Any employer who requires further details of the Social Worker (integrated degree) apprenticeship email:

You can contact the Social Worker (integrated degree) apprenticeship course lead directly by emailing or call 01905 542753

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