The aim of this landmark study is to collect robust evidence on recruitment, retention and progression in child and family social work across England. This will help policy makers and employers to establish a much stronger understanding of recruitment issues, career pathways, choices and decisions and how these differ according to individual and area characteristics.

This work is being carried out on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE) by IFF Research alongside academics at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford. It is supported by an expert advisory group, including representatives from the social work sector.

The second wave of fieldwork completed in early 2020. The summary findings are shown in the infographic below and in this article.  Please click here to read the full Wave 2 report and to access the report from the first wave of research.

Longitudinal Social Workers_DfE_Year 2 Infographic V03.00


Who has been invited to take part?

A sample of over 100 local authorities/ Children’s Trusts in England is taking part in this research, and within those areas we invited all relevant staff to participate. The survey is therefore only open to social workers who are sent an invite. The invite will either come from us (IFF Research) or direct from the local authority.

The survey is aimed at those who currently work, or have recently worked, in local authority/ Children’s Trust social work who are employed under the child and family remit and are, or were recently, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or Social Work England. This includes all staff – from director/managerial level to those in frontline positions and those on an Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) – who are:

  • Employed directly by a local authority or Children’s Trust that delivers LA Children’s services;
  • Contracted to a local authority via an agency or in a self-employed / freelance capacity; or
  • On secondment to another organisation e.g. Social Work England or a Regional Adoption Agency.
  • The survey also includes those who have recently changed employer, moved into a different area of social work, taken a break from social work or have left the profession entirely.

What will taking part involve?

Participants will be invited to take part in a short online survey in Autumn 2020. Those who take part and agree to be re-contacted will be followed up after 12 months. Consent for recontact will be asked of participants each year until 2021 and may be withdrawn at any point.

For those who completed the survey in the Wave 2 (September 2019 – January 2020), the next survey will take approximately 10 minutes. For new ASYE social workers, who are taking the survey for the first time, it will take approximately 20 minutes and 10 minutes in subsequent years. Participants will be able to save their answers should they wish to complete it in stages.

Participants will initially be invited to take part in the survey via email. For those who do not take part online, and where a telephone number has been provided, IFF will follow up with a telephone call to invite them to complete the survey

A small number of survey respondents who indicate willingness to take part in a qualitative follow up interview will be contacted for this purpose.

Do I have to complete the survey?

Taking part in this research is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. There is no obligation to take part in subsequent years, although we very much hope that you will: the longitudinal nature of this study is what makes it so important.

What happens to my data?

IFF will store all data securely. The data is analysed without any names or contact information attached, and individual staff and local authorities will not be identified or identifiable in any reporting. Any personal contact details will be destroyed after use and will not be passed to any other organisation, including DfE.

If you would like to see the full privacy notice, please follow the link provided in the email invitation, or let us know by emailing

Is the study compliant with GDPR?

We take data protection and GDPR very seriously. For detailed information on GDPR please go to

How will the data be used/reported?

The data is analysed each year and a report will be published annually on the website, from Summer 2019. Those who agree to re-contact will be emailed a summary of the findings once the report has been published.

The research findings will be used to help policy makers and employers to establish a much stronger understanding of child and family social workers’ recruitment and retention, career pathways, choices and decisions.

Who to contact?

For any questions regarding the research or how to complete the questionnaire, please email the project team at IFF Research on or call Shannon Earl or Jonnie Felton at IFF Research on 020 7250 3035.