Council celebrating British Academy social work grant for joint research project

Innovative research into social work using a method adopted by the New York Fire Department can be done thanks to a British Academy grant.

The council is working in partnership with the London South Bank University on a study which will examine if social work students can learn to see through the eyes of experts.

It can now go ahead thanks to a grant of about £10,000 from the British Academy, the UK’s national body for humanities and social sciences.

The research project will assess how final year social work university students react to real-life scenarios from experienced social workers. The experiment will see whether they can learn to view the situations in similar ways to the experts in the field.

The type of experiment used, known as the Shadowbox method, has been used successfully with the New York Fire Department and the US Marines.

The study is in partnership with the council and the results will be used by the council to develop its social work and social workers.

Merton Council cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Katy Neep said: “Merton is delighted to be a partner in this successful bid to further develop our social workers. We want all our social workers to be confident, curious, capable and caring practitioners and this project will complement our own ongoing work with our frontline staff.”

The study will build on previous research by Dr Andrew Whittaker of London South Bank University. Dr Whittaker said: “The project can give our students important skills that make them better social workers and improve their employability as these are skills that are highly valued by employers.”