Overview of the SPA Teaching and Learning Day, University of Wolverhampton

Teaching and Learning in Social Policy

Monday 11th September, University of Wolverhampton


The Social Policy Association held a very successful teaching and learning day on 11th September. The day was an opportunity for those teaching social policy to share ideas and experiences of good practice and to think about challenges to come. People attended the day from across the UK and this diversity was really useful in the day’s discussions. I would like to thank everyone who presented and attended for their valuable contributions.


Current and Future State of Social Policy Teaching

The day started with a presentation from Sophie Mackinder and John Hudson who had carried out the teaching and learning research project and wrote the report (available on the SPA website http://www.social-policy.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Teaching-Learning-Report2c-2017.pdf   John and Sophie provided an excellent overview of the research and a very honest discussion of the challenges encountered.

A number of themes came out in the conversations that followed the presentation:

  • A large number of individual respondents chose not to say where they worked – the group discussed if this was linked to issues of competition (between organisations) or levels of trust in the SPA. It was felt that the SPA could facilitate greater collegiality through events like the teaching day but also by providing (through this and similar audits) a usable set of data for those teaching social policy – especially where the subject is fairly small. This, it was felt, would build trust within the subject.
  • There was also discussion about perceptions not matching the audit information and the importance of people having accurate information about their own institutions.
  • Overall the audit showed that there had been relatively little change in provision (courses offered) in the past five years which was good news but it was clear from the discussions on the day that many courses were running on small numbers or were part of wider provision that might not be captured as social policy.
  • Linked to this discussion there were also concerns about recruitment and the issue of younger students not being aware of social policy as a subject. Central marketing material from the SPA would be welcomed.

Morning Workshops

Morning workshops focused on engaging students in social policy and addressing new forms of plagiarism.

Lee Gregory led the first workshop on engaging students which produced lots of discussion ranging from excellent examples of innovative practice (for example using outside speakers and drama and role play), to discussions about the continuing value of lectures and seminars. Lee provided a very practical example of how he had ‘flipped the classroom’ and incorporated a range of practice to produce an engaging and popular module on policy making.

Steve Iafrati led the second workshop looking at academic misconduct and there were some interesting discussions on how teaching staff can adapt to new challenges of plagiarism, in particular ‘bought essays’ and essay banks.   There was a feeling that institutions are behind the curve with this and there is the potential for them to be proactive in disrupting the market in this area. There was also an acknowledgment that poor referencing practice in A-level study exacerbated the problem.

Subject Level TEF

The afternoon session opened with a presentation on subject level TEF by Ben Brabon who is Academic Lead at the HEA with responsibility for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Ben provided a great deal of information about the context of the TEF and the practicalities.   He outlined the two subject level pilots that are starting this year and urged us as a subject / discipline to get involved at all levels of the process. As many TEF metrics are still not decided he emphasised the importance of the SPA being a visible representative of the subject.


Afternoon Workshop

The afternoon workshop focused on designing assessments that develop essential skills. This was the second workshop that Lee Gregory led and he again provided some excellent examples of practice with assessment that incorporated developing policy, writing press releases and providing a radio interview to defend policy.   Discussions highlighted that excellent practice takes place in many institutions and takes many forms. Increasingly placements / work experience / volunteering are included as part of course assessments. It was clear that some institutions are more experienced than others in this area and some cross institution collaboration could be very useful.


Feedback from the event was positive with people really valuing the opportunity to meet face to face and share experiences and ideas. There was strong support for providing an annual event and lots of good ideas for issues to be covered.


Throughout the day a number of issues were discussed that resulted in suggestions for action by SPA, these have been compiled into a list of initial recommendations.

  • That the SPA look into funding a regular audit of social policy provision – yearly if possible, using a range of public data. That this is shared in a usable way that allows social policy departments/ subjects to argue for their position and value in institutions.
  • That the data captured in the 2016 audit is used to build better relationships with institutions – there are many institutions that teach social policy but have no links to the SPA. Work needs to be done to identify the correct person / people in each institution to work with on the collection and dissemination of data.
  • That the SPA develop marketing materials that can be used across institutions to assist with recruitment. Specifically, this information could look at the importance of social policy and the jobs that a social policy degree can lead to. The animated videos produced by SPA provide a good introduction but more is needed.
  • That the learning and teaching day becomes an annual event
  • That the SPA consider their lobbying potential – this is in terms of social policy and HE policy

Venue and dates for the SPA Annual Conferences 2018 and 2019

In a change to our conference schedule for 2018 and 2019, we are pleased to announce that the SPA Annual Conference will be held at the University of York in 2018, returning to Durham University in 2019.

Details of the 2018 conference venue and the first call for papers will go out soon.

Please note that the conference dates for 2018 will be Wednesday 11th to Friday 13th July, 2018.

The move to York in 2018 represents a change from the usual practice of holding the conference at the same venue for two consecutive years. However, after discussions with Durham and the York conference team, given the expansion of the department at Durham this coming year, it was agreed that this change will best deliver two very successful conferences in 2018 and 2019.


Please save these dates : Wednesday 11th to Friday 13th July 2018


Jane Millar, Chair of the Social Policy Association

Nicole Westmarland, Acting Head of Applied Social Sciences, University of Durham

HEFCE call for applications of REF Sub-panel chairs


HEFCE have announced a call for applications of REF Sub-panel chairs


Key points to consider

  • Closing date: 12 noon on Wednesday 11 October 2017
  • Relevant Unit of Assessment is C20 Social Work and Social Policy – as in REF2014
  • Applications by individuals, and ‘applicants are asked to include letters of endorsement from subject associations or other organisations that demonstrate the individual’s standing in the community. Ideally these should indicate support from across the full breadth of disciplines covered by the UOA. These letters should form part of the application, and should not be sent directly from endorsing bodies to the REF team. Subject associations and other organisations may endorse more than one candidate’.
  • If you are interested in applying and seeking SPA endorsement, please contact Rachael Dobson (SPA secretary), r.dobson@bbk.ac.uk


SPA Teaching and Learning Day, 11 September, University of Wolverhampton

The Social Policy Association will be holding a Teaching and Learning day on 11th September at the University of Wolverhampton. The event will be an opportunity for all those teaching social policy to come together to share ideas and good practice. The event will formally launch the ‘Future of Social Policy Teaching’ report commissioned by the SPA (now available on the SPA website http://www.social-policy.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Teaching-Learning-Report2c-2017.pdf) and invite discussion about some of the imminent and future opportunities and challenges that face social policy as an academic subject. The day will be collaborative with workshops being facilitated but interactive. We welcome attendees to bring ideas and examples of their own work.

The event is free but places are limited.



New Editor(s) for the Journal of Social Policy

The Editorial Board of the Journal of Social Policy invites applications for the editorship of the journal to run for a period of five years from January 2019 to December 2023. JSP is a journal of the UK Social Policy Association, published by Cambridge University Press, and is one of the leading social policy journals in the UK and internationally. This link to the SPA is a significant aspect of the role and editors are expected to attend and report to the committee on a quarterly basis.

Patricia Kennett and Misa Izuhara (University of Bristol) have co-edited the Journal since 2013, with Chris Deeming as Book Review Editor who will be remaining in post for another term. The Editor(s) will be under contract to Cambridge University Press and will work closely with the JSP Editorial Board and the Social Policy Association Executive Committee.

Application process:

Applications are invited either from individuals or editorial teams based at UK universities.  The Board is also happy to contemplate applications from teams that include one overseas member, with the provision that editors must be prepared to attend meetings of the Editorial Board in the UK and keep in regular contact with the Board.

Applications should provide details of the following:

  • The numbers of editors involved.
  • If a single editor, how you propose to manage the workload associated with a busy international journal
  • If an editorial team, how tasks will be divided between, or among, the team.  (Where editors work in different HE  institutions it will be important to make clear how the ‘team’ will function cohesively).
  • Whether or not you have institutional support.

Whether a single editor or an editorial team, please say what you can bring to the journal in terms of, for example, your experience of working on other journals, your areas of social policy expertise and so on.  In addition, you should set out a clear developmental strategy for the journal informed by a distinctive vision, making clear how this would build on the significant successes of the current editorial team over the past five years.  Particular issues here might be how you would plan to consolidate and increase JSP’s growing international presence, how you would plan to further improve the journal’s current ISI rankings in what is an increasingly competitive marketplace and, more functionally, how you would deal with the inevitable ‘space’ pressures created by the journal’s consistently high submission rates.

As Editors of the Journal of Social Policy you are expected to report to two Editorial Board meetings each year, one in July, usually held in London,  and the other at the annual SPA conference.  In addition, Editors of the Journal are members of the Editorial Board of Social Policy & Society, and Ex-Officio members of the Social Policy Association Executive Committee.

Whilst the official start date is January 2019 it is expected that the successful candidate(s) will shadow the existing co-editors for a period of up to 4 months (from 1 September 2018) to ensure a smooth handover.

Editors receive an honorarium from Cambridge University Press and CUP will also finance appropriate administrative support. Currently administrative support is provided through the existing editorial team, but it is recognised that a new editor or editorial team may wish to make their own arrangements.

Application deadline:

Applications should be forwarded by email and attachment to Rachael Dobson, r.dobson@kingston.ac.uk, Secretary to the Social Policy Association, by 5pm Friday 27th October 2017. Applications will be shortlisted by a sub-committee of the Board and subject to consideration by the full Board, with the outcome announced and editorship awarded in January 2018.

Further information & contact details:

Interested parties are invited to contact the current editors and/or the Chair of the Editorial Board for informal discussion about the role.

Patricia Kennett (p.kennett@bristol.ac.uk)
Misa Izuhara (m.izuhara@bristol.ac.uk)

Chair of the Board:
Karen Rowlingson (K.Rowlingson@bham.ac.uk)

If you wish to discuss financial arrangements and associated issues please contact Hannah Patrick at Cambridge University Press  (hpatrick@cambridge.org)

Outcomes of the SPA Elections 2017

Elections took place in July at this year’s SPA conference AGM at Durham University on 10th July, for the editorial boards of the Journal of Social Policy, and Social Policy & Society, and for the Social Policy Association Executive Committee. Congratulations to all new elected members.


Journal of Social Policy:

Kelly Hall, Birmingham University 

Social Policy and Society*:

Steve Corbett, Liverpool Hope University

Antonios Roumpakis, University of York

Social Policy Association Executive Committee:

Elke Heins, University of Edinburgh

Rod Hick, Cardiff University

Antonios Roumpakis, University of York


*There were two candidates for the elections to the Social Policy & Society editorial board and they received the same number of votes. We therefore declare that both are elected.

SPA at 50

“The Social Policy Association was established in 1967 as the Social Administration Association and became the Social Policy Association in 1987.
To commemorate this, we are holding an anniversary reception in October, hosted by Baroness Ruth Lister, our President, at the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, the House of Lords.
We hope you will be able to come and join us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the SPA over these 50 years, as we look forward to the future, with other colleagues, people and groups who have supported the SPA.
Further information will follow, but for the moment please save the date:  Tuesday 17th October 2017, 18.30 to 20.30.”

Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society are seeking a Media Editor

The Journal of Social Policy and Social Policy and Society are the journals of the UK Social Policy Association and published by Cambridge University Press. Publishing four times a year, both journals include high-quality, original research on all aspects of international social policy. The Media Editor role will hold a position on both journals’ editorial boards.

We anticipate that the role will take up around 20-25 hours per month at a competitive hourly rate and the Media Editor will hold a freelance contract with Cambridge.

See full advertisement here

How to Apply

Applicants are not limited to residents of any particular country, although a high level of proficiency in the English language is essential. Nor are they restricted to anyone with an academic affiliation, anyone with an interest in the area is encouraged to apply. The appointment will be on the recommendation of the editors, initially for two years with the possibility of extension.


Interested candidates should apply by 30th June 2017. Please include a CV and a short statement (maximum two pages) explaining how you would approach the role and send your application by email to the publisher:


Hannah Patrick, hpatrick@cambridge.org



SPA Elections – Deadline June 14th – Apply Now

The Elections to editorial boards Journal of Social Policy, Social Policy & Society, and Social Policy Association Executive Committee

Deadline June 14 17.00, complete nomination form and email all nominations to r.dobson@kingston.ac.uk

Nominations to the Social Policy Association Executive Committee, and editorial boards of the Journal of Social Policy and the Journal of Social Policy & Society are now open. Elections will take place at the Annual General Meeting of the Social Policy Association in a secret ballot. The AGM is held at Durham University Monday July 10, Palace Green room PG20, Pemberton Rooms 17.30 – 19.00. Elections will take place for:

  • three vacancies on the SPA Executive Committee
  • one vacancy on the Journal of Social Policy Editorial Board
  • one vacancy on the Social Policy & Society Editorial Board

Nominees will be notified of the election outcomes after the AGM.

SPA Executive Committee:

The SPA executive committee meets quarterly and elected members are expected to attend and contribute to the ongoing activities of the committee.

Applicants need to be a member of the Social Policy Association and nominated by two members of the association. Applicants must complete the attached form, which includes a 250-300 word statement. Please provide brief details of interests, experience and what you think you can bring to the SPA executive committee, and the names of a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must also be SPA members). The statement will form the basis of a short summary on the ballot form.

The deadline for nominations is June 14 17.00. Please send completed nomination forms to SPA Secretary, Rachael Dobson, r.dobson@kingston.ac.uk.

If you have any questions about what is involved in the role please do not hesitate to get in touch (r.dobson@kingston.ac.uk).

Nominations for the international, peer-reviewed editorial board of the Journal of Social Policy:

There is one vacancy arising on the editorial board of the Journal of Social Policy. The editorial board meets twice a year, with the January meeting in London, and the July meeting taking place at the annual Social Policy Association Conference venue.

Members are expected to attend meetings and to contribute to the strategic development of the Journal of Social Policy. There is also the opportunity to take an active role in encouraging the submission of high quality papers, as well as disseminating information regarding articles and blogs to the wider community. Members of the Journal of Social Policy Editorial Board also have an important role in supporting the co-editors by reviewing papers submitted for publication. Whilst a vital process for the Journal, Editorial Board members can expect to be asked to review between 3 to 5 articles a year, so it is not too arduous a task.

Editorial board members serve on the board for four years starting from 1st January 2018. Applications from any social policy expertise are welcome but particularly encourage those with an expertise in employment/labour market, comparative social policy and quantitative research methods to apply.

Applicants need to be a member of the Social Policy Association and nominated by two members of the association. Elections will be held at the AGM at the Social Policy Association Conference held this year at Durham University in July. If you require any further information regarding the role of editorial board member of the Journal of Social Policy please do not hesitate to contact the Co-Editors Patricia Kennett (p.kennett@bristol.ac.uk) or Misa Izuhara (m.izuhara@bristol.ac.uk).

Otherwise, nominations should be emailed to the SPA Hon. Secretary Rachael Dobson, r.dobson@kingston.ac.uk. Please provide brief details of interests, experience and what you think you can bring to the Journal of Social Policy, which will form the basis of a short summary on the ballot form, and the names of a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must also be SPA members), by June 14 17.00.

Nominations for the editorial board of Social Policy and Society:

There is one vacancy arising on the editorial board of Social Policy and Society. The editorial board meets twice a year (usually January (in London) and July (at the annual SPA conference) and members of the editorial board attend both meetings. The key role of the editorial board is to support the managing editors in defining and implementing the strategic direction of the journal, and as such, members are expected to play an active role in promoting the journal, including through encouraging high quality submissions of articles and themed section proposals. Members are also expected to review themed section proposals, and may be asked to referee articles in accordance with their expertise. Editorial board members serve on the board for four years. Nominations from previous board members are welcome provided a period of four years has passed since their last membership.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the board, please feel free to contact the editors, Majella Kilkey (m.kilkey@sheffield.ac.uk) and Liam Foster (l.foster@sheffield.ac.uk) to discuss the role of editorial board members.

Nominations should be emailed to the SPA Hon. Secretary Rachael Dobson, r.dobson@kingston.ac.uk. Please provide brief details of interests, experience and what you think you can bring to Social Policy & Society, which will form the basis of a short summary on the ballot form, and the names of a proposer and a seconder (both of whom must also be SPA members), by June 14 17.00.

The Inaugural Social Policy & Society Annual Lecture – Stephan Crossley and Michael Lambert

March 2017 saw the inaugural ‘Social Policy and Society Annual Lecture’ at the University of Sheffield. This year’s lecture was given by Stephen Crossley (Northumbria University) and Michael Lambert (Liverpool Hope University), who were guest editors of the journal’s January 2017 Themed Section on the UK’s Troubled Families Programme. Commenting on the success of the lecture, the co-editors of the journal, Drs Liam Foster and Majella Kilkey, said: “We are delighted to have hosted such a stimulating set of talks on this very important social policy issue, and we look forward to the Social Policy and Society Annual Lecture becoming a key event in the UK Social Policy community calendar.” To view the slides and listen to the lecture, please see below: