Step Up to Social Work is an intensive full-time, fully funded, training programme that could see you kick-start your career as a social worker in just 14 months. Challenging, yet hugely rewarding, it’s your fast track to making a real difference in people’s lives.

There are two partnerships with in this region – Yorkshire and Humberside partnership and West and North Yorkshire Partnership. Leeds is the lead partner for the West and North Yorkshire Partnership, and includes Bradford, Wakefield, North Yorkshire and Kirklees.The Yorkshire and Humberside Step Up to Social Work partnership is the largest in the country (with 10 local authorities). In the last five years over 200 trainees have qualified through Step Up to Social Work and gained employment as children and families social workers.

Most of the applicants had wanted to become social workers for years but couldn’t afford to step out of paid employment to train.  Step Up to Social Work allowed them to do this by paying course fees and giving them a bursary that enabled them to continue to support their family and fund living costs.

New students in the Yorkshire and Humberside and the West and North Yorkshire Partnership will register with Salford University on their first day. Teaching will then be delivered by Salford lecturers in Leeds, as this is a central point for delivery in Yorkshire and Humber.

Check out our case studies to learn more about what our Children’s Social Workers have to say who have just completed the training.


Step Up to Social Work 2021

Funding for a new Step Up to Social Work Cohort for 2021 has been confirmed by the Department for Education.  We hope to be able to offer places in Yorkshire & the Humber as we have done since the start of the programme. We expect to have confirmation of this in early November, with applications opening in December and the interview process likely to begin in the summer of 2021.


We’ll keep this page up to date as more information becomes available, so be sure to check back often!




Interested in joining Step Up to Social Work?

Applications for the Step Up to Social Work programme

  • Applications for Step Up to Social Work are currently closed. We’re waiting on confirmation that the programme will be renewed for the next cohort. If this is confirmed, we expect applications to open in early 2021.

What is the application process?

  • Make an initial application online (see next)
  • If selected you will be asked to attend an assessment centre. The key assessment process components will involve:
    • A formal interview with an course academic member of staff and a social work manager
    • Role play
    • An interview with a service user
    • A written exercise

Start your application here at

Go to this link site to start your application.

In the meantime, have a look at the FAQs below:


Step Up to Social Work questions & answers

What is Step Up to Social Work?

  • Step Up to Social Work is a Department for Education (DfE) initiative to encourage people to change their career/retrain or take up a career in social work, working with children and families.
  • It is a 14-month intensive study/placement postgraduate degree in social work programme which will enable you to apply for a job as a social worker.
  • The degree programme is delivered by Salford University however lectures are delivered in Leeds city centre
  • Cohort 6 is the current cohort, applications for which closed on 18th March 2019. This cohort will start in January 2020 and finish March 2021.

What funding is available?

  • There is a bursary payment of £19,833 (£1,416 per month) in total for the 14 months.
  • Your tuition fees will be paid by the DfE if you live in England at the time of your studies. If you do not, then your fees will not be paid – you can still apply but would have to pay your own fees.
  • Payment will be made directly into your bank account and will be tax free.
  • Depending on the local authority you train with, this payment will be made around the 30thor 16thof the month, so you might need to change any existing direct debits to plan around this.
  • Your first payment will be around 30th January and therefore you should ensure you have enough money to pay for your travel/expenses to Leeds from early January.
  • Some students car share to save on travel expenses. You will receive a student card from Salford University which will allow you to apply for discounted train travel.

What qualifications do I need?

  • As long as you have an honours degree with either a 1st or 2:1 degree classification (level 6) or a 2:2 classification plus a level 7 qualification then you can apply.
  • In addition to higher education, applicants must also:
    • Have GCSEs in English (or English Language) and Maths at a C grade or better
    • Have relevant experience (voluntary or paid) working with children, young people or families
    • Live in England

As an applicant what will I be expected to know?

In addition to academic qualifications and experience, you should also make sure that you are able to demonstrate the following skills and knowledge:

  • Emotional resilience, the ability to cope with and adapt to the emotional impact of helping children and young people who are often in very stressful situations
  • A solid understanding of current social work theory and research
  • You should be aware of the risk indicators of different types of harm in children and young people
  • You need to show that you are able to think intuitively and logically to make decisions
  • Good, accurate report writing is a key skill for the job
  • Understand the Knowledge and Skills Statement (KSS) for child and family social workers. This is the standard of good practice used to assess applicants, so it’s important to familiarise yourself.
  • You should also show understanding of the entry-level Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) for social workers

Which authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber are offering places? What happens if some authorities are full?

  • Yorkshire and Humberside regional partnership has secured 47 places on the next Step up programme.
  • North and West Yorkshire regional partnership has secured 28 places on the next Step up programme.
  • Sheffield City Council is the lead authority for the Yorkshire and Humberside region and supports the following authorities: Barnsley, Calderdale, Doncaster Trust, East Riding, Kirklees, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, Rotherham, York and Hull.
  • Leeds City Council is the lead authority for the West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire regional partnership, supporting Bradford, North Yorkshire and Wakefield.
  • If successful you will be offered a place in your preferred authority however if there are no places left you will be asked if you would like to be referred to another authority within your region or one outside of your region which means you would have to be willing to relocate. We will also hold a waiting list in case people change their minds about accepting the trainee contract.

How is Step Up different from other social work programmes?

  • Step Up to Social Work is a pre-qualifying social work programme developed through a partnership between the 15 local authorities (LA) within the Yorkshire and Humberside Region and the University of Salford. It is an intensive 14 month programme that starts in January and leads to a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work (Step Up). It covers the same curriculum as other pre-qualifying social work programmes but in a shorter timescale. Therefore, you can expect it to be a more intensive and emotionally demanding learning experience.
  • Students will have a trainee contract with a host Local Authority and both adults and children’s placements will be provided by the LA.

I don’t have an honours degree but I do have another type of qualification in health and social care, can I apply?

  • In order to be eligible, you need either:
    • A Level 6 degree qualification (such as a BA or BSC) at 2:1 or better; or:
    • An honours degree qualification at 2:2 or better plus a Level 7 qualification (such as a Masters or Postgraduate Certificate in Education)
  • You must also have a GCSE in Maths and English grade A-C and be able to upload your certificates onto the application site and bring the original certificates for these and your degree with you to the Assessment Centre.
  • We won’t be able to interview you without these certificates so don’t be offended if we turn you away.   You must also have significant experience in a children and families setting. This can be in a work or voluntary capacity.

I can’t find my English and Maths GCSE certificates what shall I do?

  • You must be able to upload your certificates with your application form and produce the originals on the assessment centre day otherwise we will not be able to interview you.
  • If you cannot find your certificates there are a number of internet sites to help you (OfQual) but please bear in mind the time it takes to order new copies as the closing date for applications is 18th March We are unable to process your application if you do not have these certificates.

I have a temporary student visa, can I still apply?

  • Non-British EU nationals would only be eligible to apply if they have been a resident in the EU for 3 or more years unless they have the appropriate study visa. All other non-British applicants must have been granted the right to remain/work in the UK (and provide passport details for checks) or otherwise have the appropriate study visa. This will be checked at the application form stage.

What does relocation mean and will I receive additional monies?

  • This means you would have to move home to be able to undertake the placements in the host authority. This can be expensive and you should work out your finances carefully before accepting an authority which means you have to temporarily relocate.
  • You will not be offered any additional monies to relocate or to travel further. These additional costs must all be calculated within your bursary payment.

What is the assessment process? What does the assessment centre consist of?

  • You should expect to attend an assessment centre for a full day.
  • There will be a formal one to one interview with a manager from your preferred authority and a university representative and this will last 45 minutes.
  • There will be other tests including a one hour written exercise, an interview with foster carers and young people and a role play exercise. Your answers will be assessed against the PCF and the Knowledge and Skills statement.
  • You should ensure that you understand the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and the Knowledge and Skills statements before you attend an interview. All exercises will be marked against the PCF/KSS so you need to be knowledgeable and evidence your current experience around these domains.
  • Lunch may not be provided at the event so you are advised to bring your own. Refreshments will be provided. There may be delays between exercises so bring some reading material with you to pass the time.
  • Travel costs to and from the assessment centre are not refunded.

Who will tell me if I have been invited to the assessment centre?

  • The DfE support contractor (Capita) will send you a letter/email or telephone you with the date, time and venue of the assessment centre and remind you of the documents you should bring with you.
  • If you are unable to attend on that day we may be able to change the date and time within the assessment centre period as below.
  • If you change your mind and are unable to attend then we ask you to email us on at least 24 hours before your interview so that we can change our timetables.

I am due to have a baby in January 2020, can I still apply?

  • You may apply and your host authority will make reasonable adjustments for you however you must recognise that this is a very intensive programme with only 32 days holiday throughout the 15 month period. The bursary payment is not extended beyond the 15 months and placements cannot be altered or extended.
  • If you are resigning from employment then you must think very carefully before you agree to sign a contract for this programme as you will be giving up your maternity rights under your employer’s terms and conditions.

I have booked to go to a music festival in one of the placement periods, can I still go?

  • Odd days can be taken whilst on placement as long as you have the permission of the team manager and course programme manager and can make the days up before the end of the placement.

I am getting married in summer, can I still apply to do the degree programme?

  • As mentioned above, this programme is highly intensive and different holidays cannot be arranged outside of the programme. You may wish to delay your application for the next cohort.

If I am offered a place but can’t start in January, can I defer my place until the next cohort?

  • Unfortunately, because the DfE have agreed funding for this cohort of Step Up, but not any future cohorts, you cannot defer your place, as we have no guarantee that a further Step Up programme will be funded.

How many days holiday will I have and can I take my holiday at any time?

  • We have agreed to include 32 days of holiday including Bank Holidays – not all Partnerships give holidays but we want you to take care of your health and wellbeing.
  • Holidays will be planned out by the University and will usually take place around Christmas, Easter, Summer holiday period and Spring Bank. A calendar of holiday days will be provided well in advance of the start of the programme.  No other holiday times can be taken.

Where and when is the programme taught?

  • The programme is taught in central Leeds. We also use online teaching and directed study methods.
  • The programme starts at the beginning of January and this day will be held at the University in order for you to register as a student. We will arrange coaches to pick you up to take you to the University and this will give you an opportunity to get to know your fellow students.
  • You can expect to be in Leeds for up to 4 days teaching per week. The teaching day is 10am to 4pm.
  • Later in the programme there will be less face to face teaching and more directed and independent study.
  • A full programme and calendar of events will be given to you prior to the start of the course.

When will I be on placement?

There are two periods of assessed practice:

  • The first placement will be for 70 days, starting in April.
  • The second placement will be for 100 days, starting in September.
  • Your host authority will arrange these placements, and they will be in contrasting settings to give you the broadest range of experience possible.

Can I choose where I have my placement?

  • You will sign a trainee contract with one of the Local Authorities within the Regional Partnership. This Local Authority will identify and provide your placements. We will guarantee that one of the placements at least will be in a frontline statutory setting. You will be asked to complete a personal profile to help the Local Authority identify a suitable placement for you.

Can I have a placement in the same team as I was previously employed?

  • We won’t place you in a team where you were previously employed. This would be a potential conflict of interest, and we want you to be able to experience as wide a range of settings as possible to get the most out of the course.

What are the hours when I am on placement?

  • A placement day is a minimum of 7 hours excluding breaks. You will be expected to be at your placement during the same ‘office hours’ as the team.
  • However, the needs of service users can mean that it is sometimes necessary for social workers and social work students to work extended hours, sometimes at short notice. When this happens, student social workers will be able to ‘take back’ this time in line with the host LA policies & practice. Social work students are also allocated time to complete a reflective diary whilst on placement.

Will I be paid travel expenses when I am on placement?

  • No, the bursary payment covers travel costs as well as all your other expenses. Some Local Authorities cover a wide geographical area and you will need to be a car driver to travel around on your placements. There is no additional payment for travel expenses on your placement.

What support is available to me whilst I am on placement?

  • You will be assigned a practice teacher and a work based supervisor whilst you are on placement with your host authority. Each authority has a Step Up to Social Work representative and you will be notified of who this is when you sign your trainee contract.
  • We also have a Quality Assurance and Standards Manager who will meet with you during your programme and will ask you to complete a midway placement and end of placement evaluation form.

What happens if I fail my placement?

  • If you fail a placement, you will have the opportunity to attend a “concerns” meeting with the University. This allows for a full discussion of the reasons why the placement has failed. The University will advise you on the appeals procedure and how to go about submitting an appeal if you are eligible. You’ll still receive your bursary until after the appeals process is finished.

Do I need to have a driving licence?

  • You will not be required to drive if your host authority is a large city as you are able to use public transport. Some authorities don’t have good transport links and therefore you will need to have a driving licence and the use of a car.
  • You will need to provide your driving licence at the assessment centre if you are being interviewed for an urban and rural local authority (Calderdale, North Yorkshire, North East Lincs, North Lincs, East Riding, Kirklees).

I plan to take my driving test in the Autumn – will you accept this?

  • You must be able to produce your driving licence at the Assessment Centre if you are being interviewed for one of the urban and rural areas (see above). No offer can be made without this. We have accommodated people in the past who have not passed their test by the start of the programme and this has caused major problems so we are unable to alter this decision.

Can I be seconded to the Step Up programme from the Local Authority I am currently employed by?

  • No, if you are offered a place on Step Up to Social Work following the Assessment Centre you will be required to resign from your current post by the time the programme starts in January 2020.
  • You must be sure that you are willing to do this, as you will lose your continuous service if you are employed by a public sector organisation (such as a local authority).

Can I have a career break from my current employment?

  • If you are employed in any authority within the Yorkshire and Humberside region you will not be afforded a career break. The ethos of this programme is for the DfE to fund people who wish to change their career to become a children and families social worker. The bursary gives you the opportunity to step out of employment to train and continue to be able to pay your household bills.

Can I have a part time job whilst I am on the Step Up programme?

  • From our experience of previous cohorts we would advise against taking a part time job as the programme is so demanding. There can also be tax implications as the bursary is tax free as you are classed as a “student”. Being in employment will change your employment status and you are advised to contact HMRC to find out the tax implications.
  • You will be required to study and complete assignments so you may not have any spare time for a part time job. The bursary awarded is high to ensure that you are fully committed to this programme. Should you gain employment in the weeks leading up to the end of your programme and your contract then you must declare this to your host representative who will stop your bursary payment as we cannot pay your bursary and a salary at the same time.

What will my status be?

  • You will be a student from Salford University who will give you a student card. You will be entitled to access any benefits that students may get e.g. discount on council tax, discounts that shops give students etc.

Do I have to pay course fees?

  • No. The DfE are funding your course fees. You should read your trainee contract carefully as you may have to repay your bursary if you withdraw from the programme, or if you do not apply to a Children & Families Social Worker post after graduating.

Am I guaranteed a job at the end of the programme?

  • No, it is not possible to guarantee you a job but the Local Authorities within the Regional Partnerships will offer a guaranteed interview to Step Up to Social Work candidates and we will let you know when vacancies arise within the last 3 months of your course.
  • The employability rate for Step up students is currently 99% in this region.
  • If you are offered a job during the course, you won’t be able to start working until after the end of the course and the final bursary payment.

What happens if I am ill and need to take a break from the SUTSW programme?

  • The Local Authority, Regional Partnership and University will work together in an attempt to maintain a student on the programme. However, because the programme is externally funded there are external constraints on the availability of the funding.
  • As all participants are registered students with the University of Salford, the University has an ongoing responsibility to support any student who is unable to complete the Step Up To Social Work programme due to ill health. This may include a transfer to one of its other qualifying social work programmes, support in transferring to a qualifying social work programme or a different programme at another University.
  • If days are lost on placement due to illness, then it may be possible to extend the placement to ensure that your placement days are completed.  This may involve you finishing the programme later than other students. The bursary payment will not be extended beyond the final programme date so you must be aware of this.
  • Should you become pregnant during the programme then we will meet with you and discuss any reasonable adjustments that need to be made.  We are only able to make a bursary payment to you if you attend the programme and complete all necessary work required. The programme will not be extended for any maternity leave.

I will need special equipment and/or reasonable adjustments to undertake my course – how will I get this?

  • Once you have been offered a place you will be asked to complete an Occupational Health form, where you can declare any requirements. If necessary the Salford University Step Up will discuss with you how best to support you on your programme.

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?

  • If you have met the benchmark then your name will go on a waiting list and you may be offered a place in another authority or in another partnership which may be in another part of the country.
  • You should consider this offer very carefully as you may need to relocate and this will have an impact on your finances as there is no additional funding for relocation.
  • You are strongly advised to work out your finances carefully before accepting any place offered.

When will I find out if I am successful and have been offered a place?

  • Assessment centres across the country will finish by the end of July 2019. The lead authority for the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Partnership or the West and North Yorkshire Partnership will contact you at the beginning of August to inform you of the outcome of your assessment centre.
  • Due to the high numbers of applicants we won’t be able to give you feedback.

What will happen then?

  • All offers will be conditional subject to references, academic checks and DBS checks. You will be required to give us permission to contact the academic institution who issued you with your degree certificate to verify authenticity.
  • We will hold a “Keeping in Touch” event in September at which you will be asked to bring your ID to complete a DBS check and to complete a medical form which will be processed by the University of Salford occupational health service. The checking process will take time to complete and we will try and keep you updated with progress of your offer.
  • You are reminded that if you accept the offer of a place on this programme that you must resign from your current employment ready to start your programme in January 2020. You are advised to find out how much notice you need to give your employer.

Keeping in Touch Day

  • We will arrange for those who have been offered a place to meet other students across the region in September either in Leeds or Sheffield at our Keeping in Touch Day event. This day will give you the opportunity to find out more about the programme, meet practice educators to ask more about placements, complete your DBS check and the occupational health form.
  • If you have any health-related questions there will be an opportunity to talk to the university lecturers about this.
  • We will also invite speakers and have fun activities for you to bond with each other. We will pay your travel expenses to attend the day; please keep any train tickets to make your claim.
  • As many people will still be in employment they may not be able to attend this day. You may want to take annual leave as it is a very informative day. We will also give you a suggested reading list and information to keep you informed until you start your programme in January.

Induction Day

  • Your first day on the programme in January will be held at the University of Salford.
  • We will arrange coaches to pick up students at key points within the region so that students can meet with peers and get to know each other. Further information will be provided at the Keeping in Touch Day.
  • You will be able to formally enrol as a student of the University of Salford and be given key information.
  • You will also be given an iPad which is on loan from the University IT Department. The iPad remains the property of the University of Salford. You will sign an agreement to return it at the end of your contract. You are not able to purchase the iPad at the end of your programme. You will be required to make arrangements to return it to your host representative at the end of your contract.

Do you have a suggested reading list?

  • You will be given a copy of the reading list as part of your induction day at Salford University.

Will I have an opportunity to ask further questions before starting on the course?

  • The “Keeping in Touch” day will also serve as an opportunity to speak to representatives from your host authority and the University, who will be able to answer any further questions before you sign a trainee contract.
  • If you can’t attend the “Keeping in Touch” event, we will contact you separately to arrange another day so that you can complete your DBS check and ask any questions you might have.

When will I receive the trainee contract?

  • Trainee contracts are typically sent out in October. This gives you plenty of time to work out your finances and decide whether to accept the offer. You are advised to consider your finances very carefully including any travel costs.


Further information

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

The Department for Education (DfE) guidance: Step Up to Social Work: Information for Applicants

DfE Research: The Views of Step Up to Social Work Trainees: Cohort 1 and Cohort 2

DfE Research: Speaking from Experience: Views of Trainees of Step Up to Social Work


If you’re interested in other routes into the profession, find out more about social work apprenticeships and social work courses in our region.