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Starting a social care career

A career that you are guaranteed to find challenging and rewarding.

There are lots of different job roles in social care; it just depends what you are interested in, who you want to work with and where you want to work. We can guarantee that no two days will ever be the same, it will be both challenging and rewarding.

Further information on the types of career available is on the Skills for Care website.

Becoming a social worker

The role of social work is to support and protect vulnerable children and adults, their families, carers and communities. The work focuses on helping individuals to maximise their potential within society.

Depending on your role, you will work with:

  • vulnerable adults or children
  • older people
  • people who have a disability
  • people who have a physical or mental illness
  • children we care for
  • children who have emotional or behavioural needs.

You can find out more from the national careers website

Social work training

There are different routes to becoming a social worker in Oxfordshire:

University course at undergraduate or post-graduate level

  • You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in social work approved by Social Work England (the specialist regulator for social work in England).
  • You can also do a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work, if you have a degree in another subject.
  • You may be eligible for a social work bursary

Graduate training schemes

Oxfordshire County Council offers two fast-track postgraduate routes into social work for those who hold a suitable undergraduate degree:


Frontline is a social work charity working to ensure that all children in England have a safe and stable home and that their life chances are not limited by their social or family circumstances. They create social change for these children and their families by developing excellent social work practice and leadership through their programmes, and by building a movement of leaders in social work and broader society as part of their Fellowship. 

Frontline is a paid 2-year programme which gives you the opportunity to earn as you qualify as a social worker and complete a fully-funded master’s degree. In year one you will receive a tax-exempt bursary of £20k (London bursary).

Oxfordshire has worked with Frontline for several years, hosting units for trainee social workers in our Children’s Social Care Family Solutions Plus teams, who then move into Newly Qualified Social Work roles with us. We will be hosting further units from September 2023.

If you are interested in finding out more and meet the eligibility requirements, you can sign up.

Step up

The Step Up to Social Work programme is a unique opportunity to receive support while you are training to start a new career in social work. On the 14-month training programme, you will receive hands-on experience of working in a real-life social work role through placements in the local authority whilst undertaking your qualification. Once you’ve successfully completed the course, you’ll be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work enabling you to apply to register and practice as a social worker.  

The Department for Education covers the cost of your university tuition on the programme and provides a tax-free bursary of £19,833 paid over the duration of the programme to support you during your training.  

Recruitment for the programme is now open, the application window closes at noon on Monday 3 April, with assessment centres scheduled for June/July 2023, and a January 2024 programme start date. The programme runs once every two years, dependent on government funding, so if you are interested, make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to apply.

Oxfordshire County Council is part of the South East Partnership (covering Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes, Central Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire) working with the University of Bedfordshire to deliver the programme. You can find further information about the programme (including videos from both the Course Coordinator and former trainees) and the university at University of Bedfordshire Step Up to Social Work Course.

For entry criteria and to apply

It’s never too late to change careers or retrain to become a social worker and make a huge difference for children and families.