“The workforce is stable, motivated and child-focused. Social workers have access to a comprehensive range of flexible and responsive training and development.”

(Page 2) (Review of the effectiveness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board report published: 24 November 2017.) Ofsted inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers, 11 September 2017 – 5 October 2017.

"Workforce development is a significant strength, and there is a very strong commitment to continuing professional development.”

(Page 26) (Review of the effectiveness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board report published: 24 November 2017.) Ofsted inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers, 11 September 2017 – 5 October 2017.

South Tyneside

South Tyneside knew that their staff needed support to drive improvements in practice and in the lives of the children they serve – and this was confirmed by Ofsted. Side by side, we built a comprehensive training programme for their entire case-holding workforce. The result was a measurable improvement in practice leading to positive changes in the lives of children, young people and families. We continue to work with South Tyneside to further develop and support their workers – and we love every moment of our work together.

Issues Addressed

South Tyneside wanted to address gaps in practitioners’ and managers’ learning around assessment, planning, recording, attachment, parenting capacity and social work intervention. They required a comprehensive training programme that would be helpful for their social workers, contact workers, family support workers, senior practitioners and team managers.

Workers had high caseloads and were struggling to find a space to reflect on their practice – so South Tyneside’s leaders wanted to support their staff to develop a culture of reflection and learning. We helped renew confidence in core skills and provided evidence-based tools that workers could use to deliver better care to those they serve.

Following the success of the Strengthening Practice programme, we continue working with South Tyneside – providing further, in-depth training where it’s needed to help them as they transform their approach to making a positive difference in people’s lives.


Outcomes achieved

At the end of the programme, we provided a detailed report that analysed over 1,391 feedback forms, observations from facilitators, audits of case files and focus group discussions. This showed strong evidence that the new skills were making a difference in practice and positively impacting on children and families.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In surveys and focus groups, staff said they benefited from the facilitators’ style, knowledge and practice experience. They loved our helpful training materials and resources. Staff are now making regular use of evidence-based tools to improve the help they offer to children and young people while measuring and reflecting on what’s working in their practice.

Audits of casework demonstrated good practice and showed that workers were applying their learning to their work. Staff scored especially well on documenting their ‘workings out’ and empathising with parents to understand cases from their perspectives. Practitioners feel more empowered to make real positive changes in people’s lives – including preventing placement breakdown, improving the experiences of families and addressing vulnerability to child sexual exploitation.

Our report gave South Tyneside’s leaders valuable information on how the programme was received, including positives and negatives identified by staff and factors that could help or hinder the lasting positive impact the programme has made.


“Every case I get now, I do a genogram and a road map of how we’ve got from the start, and
an ecomap as well. I do them every time, first time. It gives you a better idea of what’s
important. I didn’t do that every time before.” 

Social Worker

South Tyneside

“It was planned well – the modules all went through and were well connected, there was a
chance to reflect in groups.”

Senior Practitioner

South Tyneside

Having worked with Strengthening Practice for over six years, I have no hesitation in telling anyone and everyone who wants to listen how much we have valued them as a partner in our journey of improving practice for children in South Tyneside. At every stage on every level we have and continue to value our partnership relationship in helping to improve, develop and grow our practitioners to enable us to deliver outstanding practice to children and families in our Borough.

They have walked with us, challenged us, been challenged by us and become part of our family. Our staff look forward to and value the time they spend with us and we receive amazing feedback about the difference it has made. Most importantly however I can see the impact it has on practice for families and this is what I have valued most. Strengthening Practice share our commitment, passion and motivation for the best we can offer children and Families and have been and continue to be part of our collective strive to achieve that ambition for all our children and families.

Shona Gallagher

Head of Children and Families Social Care

How can we support your team to better serve children, young people and families? Get in touch and let us know how we can help.

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