This is a new service – your feedback will help us to improve it.

Principal social worker

Support social work teams, provide quality assurance and contribute to strategic leadership

What you'll do

As a principal social worker you’ll:

  • provide leadership to social workers and practitioners and represent their views to senior managers 
  • support social work teams to ensure positive outcomes for children and families 
  • provide quality assurance to help social workers navigate complex decisions 
  • use different models of practice and learning to guide decision-making
  • monitor cases to ensure professional standards are met 
  • work with team managers to manage resources and performance 
  • contribute to the development of policies, procedures and practice models
  • provide training to social workers to support professional development 
  • develop and maintain effective working relationships with multi-agency partners

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • leadership skills to lead and motivate teams of social workers 
  • in-depth knowledge of child development, family dynamics and safeguarding 
  • critical thinking skills to analyse complex situations and make informed decisions 
  • strategic thinking to develop long-term plans, achieve organisational goals and deliver for children and families 
  • communication skills to navigate dynamics between social workers and senior managers 
  • the ability to prioritise tasks and delegate responsibilities
  • an awareness of national policy and how it affects social work teams 

How to become one

To become a principal social worker you must:

  • have completed a degree, apprenticeship or graduate training scheme in social work 
  • be registered with Social Work England
  • ideally have at least 5 years’ experience as a qualified child and family social worker
  • have leadership and management experience in a social work setting
  • have experience collaborating with external partners and influencing practice outside your organisation

If you’re an experienced service manager or head of service, the Pathway 4: practice leaders programme can help prepare you to progress to a principal social worker role.

Career paths and progression

With experience you could:

The upon: aspirant directors programme can help prepare you to progress to a director of children’s services role.

Current opportunities

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.