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Collaborative EnhanceR2P research project secures funding

Collaborative EnhanceR2P research project secures Ako Aotearoa funding

Researchers led by Open Polytechnic’s Neil Ballantyne have secured Ako Aotearoa funding for a collaborative sector-wide project into social workers’ readiness to practise in the field.

Enhancing the Readiness to Practise of Newly Qualified Social Workers (EnhanceR2P) will develop an evidence-informed, industry-agreed Professional Capabilities Framework.

Neil Ballantyne, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Open Polytechnic is joined by Dr Liz Beddoe (University of Auckland), Dr Kathryn Hay (Massey University) and Dr Jane Maidment (University of Canterbury) in this research project which will clarify the capabilities of social workers at different stages – from newly-qualified through to experienced and advanced practitioners.

Why is this research necessary? Neil Ballantyne says “There has been a great deal of media attention on child protection practice, both here and overseas, where the competence of social workers has been publicly criticised. There have also been several challenges to the adequacy of social work education in New Zealand and the readiness of graduates when they enter the workforce. However, these challenges are based on anecdotal and impressionistic information rather than solid empirical evidence. This research will develop an outcomes-based framework founded on targeted local research.”

The key research questions the EnhanceR2P project aims to answer are:

• What is the content of the current social work curriculum, and how is it being taught?

• How well-prepared are newly-qualified social workers to enter professional practice, and how is their learning supported and enhanced in the workplace?

• What are the professional capabilities we should expect of newly-qualified social workers, and of those at more experienced (senior/managerial) levels?

Funding for the three-year project (2016-2018) has come from the contestable Ako Aotearoa National Project Fund (NPF). The NPF is a strategic change fund that supports evidence-based change in teaching and learning practice. Ako Project Funds Manager Rhonda Thomson says “The EnhanceR2P project is clearly focused on improved outcomes for learners both during their learning experience and as graduates equipped to do their job. This is an ambitious project with a logical vision for change that could potentially have social, as well as educational, value.”

For more information on the EnhanceR2P project, including detail on design, methodology and intended outcomes, visit the project space at

You can also view the EnhanceR2P project blog at


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