Step Up to Social Work

Step Up to Social Work is an intensive full-time, fully funded, Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work training programme that allows you to become a qualified social worker in just 14 months

We are looking for people who are committed to making a difference for disadvantaged children and families.  You need to have a willingness to learn, be emotionally resilient and be able to undertake this challenging yet hugely rewarding academic degree programme.

This is a Department for Education nationally funded programme delivered by partnerships across the country. There are two partnerships within this region – Yorkshire and Humberside Partnership, and West and North Yorkshire Partnership.

Leeds Council is the lead partner for the West and North Yorkshire Partnership, which also includes Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, North Yorkshire, Calderdale and Kirklees local authorities.

Sheffield City Council is the lead partner for the Yorkshire and Humberside Partnership, which is one of the largest in the country and includes Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, East Riding, Hull, North Lincs, North East Lincs, and York.

Hundreds of trainees have qualified through Step Up to Social Work in this region and have gained employment as children and families social workers over the last 10 years. The employment rate for Step Up alumni in our region is extremely high – often, everyone who applies for a job after completing the course is successful!

This is a unique opportunity to earn while you learn, as the DfE provides funding via a tax free bursary payment of £19,833 and payment of University fees to successful applicants.  Childcare costs are not funded by this programme. This will allow you to change or start a new career in social work and be able to continue to pay your bills and fund your living costs while you are studying.  The programme only runs once every two years, dependent on government funding, so if you’re interested, make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to apply!

Applications for Cohort 8 are not currently open.

Further details will be made available as soon as we have the relevant information, including:

  • The number of places for Step Up to Social Work 2024 in our partnerships

  • When the portal for applications will open

  • The closing date for applications to Step Up to Social Work


Step Up to Social Work entry criteria

This is a Postgraduate Social work degree programme, so you will need either a BA or BSc Honours degree with a minimum 2:1 classification. Your degree doesn’t have to be in a related setting.

You will also have to have GCSE in Maths and English grade A-C (or equivalent) and you will need to have your qualification certificates to send us prior to any interview that is offered. If you cannot find these, you can order replacements online. It may take a month to get your replaced certificates so apply for them well in advance of any interviews as you will not be able to attend an interview without them

You will also need to evidence significant experience of either working or substantial volunteering with vulnerable children and families, and/or vulnerable adults

We are particularly interested in applications from men and people from ethnic minority communities, as these groups are under-represented in this area of social work.

The Step Up to Social Work programme is also a great way for people wanting to change their career to fast-track into social work. People with life and work experience often embrace life as a social worker very quickly.

Your 14-month programme will fly by very quickly, and if your local authority has vacancies, you will be guaranteed an interview for a social worker job in children and families statutory social work. The starting salary for a social worker in most authorities in this region is around £30k per year.

Check out our case studies to learn more about what our Children’s Social Workers have to say who have  completed the training and watch our new videos of those who have completed the Step up to Social work programme.

Studying through Step Up to Social Work

We spoke to Lewis, who is now a Senior Fieldwork Manager, leading a team of 6 qualified social workers in Sheffield after completing the Step Up to Social Work course, to find out what attracted him to the programme and what the application process was like from a student’s perspective.

The bursary is one of the major benefits of this route into social work, but the placement opportunities were also a highlight of the course for Lewis. 

With a guaranteed interview for any relevant vacancies in your authority, this course has a very high rate of employment, but getting the most out of the course also prepares you well for career progression in your new field.

Children’s social work can be challenging, but making a difference to children and young people’s lives also makes it hugely rewarding as a profession.

Applying to Step Up to Social Work

Applications for the next Step Up to Social Work cohort are currently closed, but will open around March 2023.  Those who are shortlisted for interview will be invited to an assessment centre which will be held in June/July and following success, applicants will be offered a trainee contract to start the degree programme in January 2024.

Frequently asked questions about Step up to social work

What funding is available?
What qualifications do I need for Step Up to Social Work?
What are Step Up to Social Work applicants expected to know?
I have booked to go to a music festival in one of the placement periods, can I still go?
I am getting married in the summer, can I still apply to do the degree programme?
Which authorities in Yorkshire and Humber are offering places? What happens if some authorities are full?
How is Step Up to Social Work different from other social work programmes?
I don’t have an Honours degree but I do have another type of qualification in Health and social care, can I apply?
I can’t find my English and Maths GCSE certificates, what should I do?
I have a temporary student visa, can I still apply?
What does relocation mean and will I receive additional monies?
What is the assessment process? What does the assessment centre consist of?
Who will tell me if I have been invited to the assessment centre?
I am due to have a baby during the scheduled course time, can I still apply?
If I am offered a place but can’t start in January, can I defer my place until the next cohort?
How many days holiday will I have and can I take my holiday at any time?
Where and when is the Step Up to Social Work programme taught?
When will I be on placement?
Can I choose where I have my placement?
Can I have a placement in the same team as I was previously employed?
What are the hours when I am on placement?
Will I be paid travel expenses when I am on placement?
What support is available to me whilst I am on placement?
What happens if I fail my placement?
Do I need to have a driving licence?
I don’t have a driver’s license, but plan to take my driving test before the Assessment Centre starts – will you accept this?
Can I be seconded to the Step Up to Social Work programme from the Local Authority I am currently employed by?
Can I have a career break from my current employment?
Can I have a part time job whilst I am on the Step Up programme?
As a Step Up to Social Work candidate, will I officially be a student?
Do I have to pay course fees?
Am I guaranteed a job at the end of the programme?
What happens if I am ill and need to take a break from the Step Up to Social Work programme?
I will need special equipment and/or reasonable adjustments to undertake my course – how will I get this?
What happens if I am successful but all the places in my preferred authority have been offered to others who have scored higher than me?
When will I find out if I am successful and have been offered a place?
What will happen after I receive an offer?
Keeping in Touch Day
Step Up to Social Work Induction Day
Do you have a suggested reading list?
Will I have an opportunity to ask further questions before starting on the course?
When will I receive the trainee contract?
How do I apply for Step Up to Social Work?

Further information

For more information on Step Up to Social Work, look at: