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Practice Leadership in Social Work

Leads: Professor Robin Miller, Dr Jason Schaub, Mr Simon Haworth (Social Care), Prof Graeme Currie (Organisational Science)

Dates: January 2020 - July 2021


Leadership is recognised as making an important contribution towards the raising of the standard of social work in line with other professional disciplines. Numerous reviews of children and adult social services highlight that an absence of good leadership has been a factor in failing services which do not protect vulnerable children or adults. Whilst being encouraged by government policies and professional bodies, and included within professional capability frameworks, there remains a lack of clarity about what is distinct about leadership within a social work context and how it can be supported in practice.

Policy and Practice Partners:

This project was developed through consultation with ADASS, the British Association of Social Work, and the Chief Social Worker for England.

Co-Funding Partners:


Aims and Objectives:

This study will provide greater clarity of what good leadership looks like in social work and the realities of leading within this professional context.


The study will involve three work packages:

  • A review of current leadership of social work in England based on evidence review and national stakeholder workshops
  • A policy review of leadership in each of the home nations through documentary analysis and interviews with social work stakeholders from practice, policy and academia.
  • A national survey of principal social workers in Children and Adult Services in England regarding their leadership style and organisational support.

Main Results:




Implications for Implementation:

This project will provide insights for universities, social work employers, and professional regulators across the UK regarding the contribution of social work leadership and how it can be facilitated in practice.