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10 January 2024

Emma: We need to make time for development 

Emma, a Pathway 1 leader, shares her experience of the Pathways programme and how this supported her to move up in her career.

Emma is currently a Senior Social Worker in Yorkshire and on Pathway 1, and has recently been successful in moving onto the role of Advanced Practitioner whilst being on the Pathways programme.  

Emma is so clearly passionate about her role and supporting those around her to develop their social work skills, and it’s inspiring to hear how her increased confidence has enabled her to push herself in her career. 

What stood out to you from the Pathway 1 residential? 

We work in such a fast-paced environment, particularly in child protection, so it was really nice to be able to step away and slow things down, to really have that time to reflect on who I am as a social worker, my values and the impact that has on my role. If we don’t have that time to ground ourselves and develop our skills as leaders, then how are we meant to support others to develop?

I believe you get the best from your staff when time is put into their development, and think Pathway 1 is an opportunity that should be really encouraged – ultimately your staff will bring what they’ve learnt back into their practice and to their teams and the local authority. 

The residential also gave me the opportunity to meet different social workers from across the country who already held leadership positions I aspired to. Talking with them and hearing about their career journeys made me realise I wasn’t as inexperienced as I thought I was.

After the residential I subsequently applied for a new role and have been successful. I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to apply for this role had I not experienced the residential and the conversations I had over those couple of days. 

What aspects of the programme will you take forward into your role?  

I really enjoyed the work we did around supervision, as there isn’t a lot of training out there on this. We looked at what is important for supervision, what the principles and values are behind it, and what both sides would like to get out of it. This will be really valuable for me as I start my new role, particularly as I was able to learn from other leaders in the room and their experience of supervision.  

The coaching was also a valuable part of the experience which allowed me to think things through and most importantly out loud. Coaching is something I’ve always found really useful and have gone back to at different points in my social work career, so having the opportunity to do this again on the Pathways programme was great.

What I learnt from my coaching sessions will feed directly back into my role alongside a key message I took from Pathway 1, which was small changes can have a big impact. Social work is a profession that is struggling at this time with things such as budget cuts, and these can feel like really big barriers, but we need to remember that the small changes we make every day do have an impact on practice and the children and families we support.