Dr. Sharon Shoesmith, former Director of Education and Children’s Social Care Services at Haringey Council, is set to visit the University of Cumbria in Carlisle on Friday 14 July to give a keynote speech at the university’s Social Work Conversation conference.
Dr. Shoesmith will speak to students and graduates about how social workers can learn from bad experiences, drawing from her own of being unfairly dismissed by the then Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, and subjected to fierce criticism at the hands of the tabloid media.
After losing her job, Dr. Shoesmith undertook a PhD to piece together the facts of what happened to her and her colleagues, winning an appeal for unfair dismissal along the way. It is this research and recommendations for the future of social work that form the basis of her talk.
Kirsteen Laidlaw, Senior Lecturer in Social Work MA at the University of Cumbria is delighted that Dr. Shoesmith is talking her students about her real-life experience of social work.
“Due to its rural location, Cumbria gets very few opportunities to hear from speakers of national standing”, she said. “Hearing from such a well-known figure in the child services sphere gives our students and graduates an edge and another level of understanding they can apply to their own professional lives. Social work is a pressurised profession and our students need to be committed and resilient and be able to learn from their experiences. Hearing how Sharon has reflected and considered hers before using the events as the basis for her PhD research, will be of enormous benefit to them.”
The event is only open to students registered on a social work programme, graduates, invited practice educators and employers.
At the event, students will get an opportunity to present their own research and gain feedback from distinguished figures in the field. Graduates will be able to share their real-life experiences from the front line of children’s care and will be informed of current research advances.
In addition to the keynote speech from Dr. Sharon Shoesmith, Professor Hugh McLaughlin, a social work practitioner with close links to the university, will also be discussing the key role research plays in social work practice.