Social Work Snapshot

Hear from social workers

In the summer of 2021, we set out to take a snapshot of children’s social work in England at this significant moment in time. We wanted the view from the front line – to learn what social workers have to say about how they work and whether, through their work, they are able to achieve their ambition to change children’s lives for the better. So we asked our fellows, and their social work colleagues these questions.

Changing the system

The themes coming through in Snapshot indicate such an appetite for real change in the social work system. The pandemic has shown it is possible to do things differently, to adapt and be creative. Social workers have the insight to identify the solutions that enable them to have more impact on the lives of children and families. We want to grasp this opportunity and the enormous potential for change it represents. 

The Frontline Fellowship

Through our Fellowship, we support and mobilise fellows to actively create change within social work, by providing tools and training to develop their ability and influence others to create change for children and families.

Our Social Work Snapshot is one of highly skilled and confident social workers who love what they do.


feel families value
their work as a
social worker


but only 16% feel
the public values
their work as a
social worker

Recommending social work

We asked respondents if they would recommend the profession to others. 59% said yes, 21% were unsure, and only 20% said no.

  • Yes 59% 59%
  • Not sure 21% 21%
  • No 20% 20%

“I love being a social worker. I love that
my work has enabled families to stay
together and for parents to make
meaningful changes that have a positive
impact on them and their children.”

87% of respondents feel they are able to carry out the duties of their social work role effectively.

85% of participants feel they’re improving key life outcomes for children.

69% of respondents feel their local authority is open to new ideas and innovative ways of working.

“Vast amounts of repetitive paperwork (panel referrals, pre-meetings reports for every meeting, minutes of every meeting, referrals to support agencies, case notes) are prioritised over meaningful visits and direct work.”

What barriers prevent social workers doing their role most effectively/to the best of their ability?

  • Unnecessary bureaucracy 65% 65%
  • High caseloads 54% 54%
  • Not enough time spent with families and children 47% 47%
65% said they feel constrained by the weight of unnecessary bureaucracy; 54% struggle to manage their high caseloads; and 47% do not have enough time to spend with families, doing the direct, face-to-face work they want – and are trained to do.

Read the full report