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Simon Cauvain

Simon Cauvain

Head of Social Work, Care and Community

School of Social Sciences

Staff Group(s)
Social Work and Health


In his role as Head of Social Work Dr Simon Cauvain is responsible for providing strategic and operational leadership and management in the department. He is responsible for overseeing Social Work teaching teams, course design, curriculum developments and student experience.  He is an executive member of the D2N2 Teaching Partnership (Social Work Academy for Excellence) overseeing research and commercial activity within the department and across the School.

Simon's responsibilities include:

  • leading the development of CPD social work and subject specialism in children and families social work
  • overseeing and ensuring the implementation and review of all course governance associated with CPD social work
  • working with colleagues to ensure the development of research and scholarly activity to inform the development of the qualifying social work curricula.

Simon's PhD research, 'Recruitment and Retention of Children and Family Social Workers: A Case Study' centred on the front-line social worker experience and how this influences 'stay and go' decisions. He is particularly interested in the connection between research and practice and in the role of the university in professional education. This links neatly with his involvement in delivering post-qualification education within the CPD programme. Simon is interested in international aspects of practice, having taught social work students in Hong Kong between 2009 and 2014. He is also a member of Supporting Social Work in Malawi (SSWIM) and has visited the University of Malawi to engage with their social work programme. His visit in 2016 involves teaching Practice Education in Social Work. Simon's key teaching and research focus remains the same as when he first became interested in social work, namely, the wellbeing of service users.

Career overview

Simon is a registered social worker with experience of working with a range of service users across a variety of settings and sectors. His voluntary work focussed on role-modelling and befriending young people involved in crime. In the lead towards his professional social work studies Simon worked in Lincoln as a community care officer with adults with physical disabilities and older people. He became a qualified social worker in 2002 with a Diploma in Social Work and graduated from the University of Central England, Birmingham, with First Class honours and the Sheila Richardson prize the following year. The focus of his direct practice since qualification has predominantly been with children and families and child protection.

Simon initially worked within a Birmingham Local Authority Looked After Children team, and was subsequently employed within the voluntary sector (NSPCC), and for two South Yorkshire local authorities, during the completion of his PhD, before becoming a senior lecturer in social work at Sheffield Hallam University and then subsequently with the University of York.

Key responsibilities as lecturer in social work at Sheffield Hallam University, Social Work, Social Care and Community Studies, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing included:

  • Social work lead in a collaborative trans-national degree award for students in Hong Kong in both design and delivery of teaching to social work students
  • Assessments Officer, BA (Hons) Social Work
  • Year Two Lead Tutor for the BA (Hons) Social Work
  • Module Leader for two research modules on the MA Social Work
  • MA Social Work dissertation supervision
  • Social Work Professional Doctorate student supervision
  • Involvement in student project assessments twice a year at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

Key responsibilities as lecturer in social work and social policy at University of York, Department of Social Policy and Social Work:

  • Post-Qualification / CPD, Practice Education in Social Work, Academic Lead
  • Academic Lead for the Service User and Carer Participation Advisory group (SUPA)
  • Equality and Diversity Champion for Equality and Diversity
  • Admissions Tutor, BA (Hons) Social Work
  • Module Leader for Ethics and Values (BA and MA Social Work)
  • Module Leader for Social Policy, Children and Young People.

Research areas

Previous research includes:

  • attitudes of young people around the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
  • inner-city living and use of public spaces
  • evaluation of a domestic abuse service.

Current research includes:

  • a national evaluation of Signs of Safety, an approach adopted by an increasing number of children and family social workers, Professor Mary Baginsky, King's College London
  • an empirical exploration of the relationship between the new BA programme in Social Work at the University of Malawi and the development of Social Work as a profession in Malawi, with Dr Andrew Hill, University of York and two colleagues at the University of Malawi.

External activity

  • Registered Social Worker with Health and Care Professions Council
  • Member of the British Association of Social Work
  • Member of Supporting Social Work in Malawi (SSWIM)
  • Member of Social Work in Action Network (SWAN).

Sponsors and collaborators

  • ARC Research Consultancy, Sheffield.

For more details on sponsors and collaborators see the Research tab.


Simon is currently working on two academic research papers:

  • Recruitment and Retention of Children and Family Social Workers: a case study
  • Nominal Group Technique as a Research Method in Social Work: ins and outs, highs and lows.

Cauvain, S. (2015) Highlighting social inequality, power and oppression through learning and teaching activities in Bartoli, A., Chopping, T., Douglas, V. and Tedam, P. Embedding equality and diversity in the curriculum: a social work practitioner's guide. The Higher Education Academy.

Webber, S., Shaw, I., Cauvain, S., Hardy, M., Kääräinen, A., Satka, M. and Yliruka,L. (2014) W(h)ither the academy? An exploration of the role of university social work in shaping the future of social work in Europe. European Journal of Social Work. Vol 17, Issue 5.

Cauvain, S (2010) Social workers do not feel valued by either their employers or the general public. Children and Young People Now magazine. October 2010.

Book chapter: Martin Webber , Mark Hardy , Simon Cauvain , Aino Kääriäinen , Mirja Satka , Laura Yliruka, Ian Shaw (forthcoming) An exploration of the role of university social work in shaping the future of social work, in Europe in Routledge International Handbook of Social Work Education.

Conferences and presentations

‘Hanging on in there? Retaining social workers as austerity bites, May 2016, BA and MA Social Work Research Conference, Nottingham Trent University.

'Damned if you do, damned if you don't: Recruitment and Retention of English Children and Family Social Workers' at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano – EURAC European Conference of Social Work Research, Bolzano, Italy, 15 to 17 April 2014.

'Recruitment and Retention of English Children and Family Social Workers' at Making research Count, The Priory, York, 4 November 2014.

'Education Matters? The Role of the Academy in the Future of Social Work', at the European Conference of Social Work Research, Jyväskylä, Finland, 20 to 22 March 2013.

'Using a Case Study Approach to explore Recruitment and Retention of Social Workers in a Local Authority.' Tuesday Seminar Series, Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Sheffield Hallam University, 28 February 2012.

'Recruitment and Retention of Children & Family Social Workers', at the Evidence Informed Practice conference, Sheffield Children and Young People's Directorate, 4th August 2009, Sheffield.

'Under Pressure? What it's Like to be a Child and Family Social Worker' at the XVIth ISPCAN International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect Children in a Changing World: Getting it Right. University of York, 4 September 2006

'Every Social Worker Matters' - 'Under Pressure? What it is Like to be a Child and Family Social Worker' Invited speaker at The Contribution of the Registered Social Worker to the Future of Children's Services in England Coventry University, 28 September 2006.

Press expertise

  • Recruitment and retention of social workers (particularly children and family social workers)

  • Social work with children and families
  • Experiences of being a social worker
  • Social work in Malawi
  • Teaching social work
  • Public and political image and perception of social work
  • Service users' participation in social work education