This project will introduce the findings of the Social Workers in Schools (SWIS) Trial, to Welsh stakeholders with a view to developing SWIS for implementation in Wales.


The Social Workers in Schools (SWIS) Trial is testing the effectiveness of placing social workers in 150 schools across 21 local authorities in England. Aims include improving the service for families, reducing risks to children, and improving other outcomes. It is the largest study of this kind ever undertaken in UK CSC, and hence it has significant potential to generate lessons for policy and practice. Yet it is currently only being undertaken in England. This proposed innovation project will begin the process of applying SWIS in a Welsh context. Its long-term goal is to create the conditions under which a similar intervention might be developed in Wales.

To enable this, the current project will 1) translate the findings for non-academic stakeholders in Wales (e.g. practitioners, policy makers and key agencies), 2) create opportunities for knowledge exchange to explore the acceptability and feasibility (including barriers and facilitators) of implementing SWIS in a Welsh context, and (3) further extend the reach of the project through innovative dissemination.

Activities and Methods


ExChange workshops for practitioners will aim to generate creative ideas about how SWIS might operate in Wales, what barriers and enablers might exist, etc. Examples of practice and case studies will bring the intervention to life and provide the means for instrumental impact at a local level in Wales.


Presentations to policymakers, locally and nationally will be given to a range of organisations, and we will use this to understand the policy landscape and identify potential early adopters of SWIS in Wales. A bilingual briefing with 10 key points will be available at both workshops and presentations.


We will create two animated videos for online use to be hosted on the CASCADE website and shared via CASCADE and ExChange social media, and via partner agencies. These will be co-produced with social work and school staff, and with young people via CASCADE Voices. They will tell the story of the project and its key findings. We will also record a podcast and video (with a researcher being interviewed) with the funder, which would be freely available online. 


The project is now complete, and it enabled us to maximise the impact of the SWIS trial by engaging with professionals in Wales about an intervention that had been tested in England. Unlike some interventions which prove to be effective, SWIS was found not to make a significant difference to the outcomes it intended to change. Therefore, the impact work was more about disseminating findings and engaging with practice than advocating for Wales to adopt the intervention. It demonstrated that efforts to ensure research has impact require nuance and a flexible approach that is tailored to the project. The main impact of the original study was to prompt the UK government to cease funding SWIS, which is the right decision and a positive example of research impact given the results of the study.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorDavid Westlake

Academic Staff

Research AssociateVerity Bennett
Research AssociatePhil Smith
Related SchoolsCASCADE, Centre for Trials Research
Related partnersAs well as colleagues from CASCADE and CTR (Cardiff), we are working with colleagues at the University of Oxford. 
We anticipate that some sessions (e.g. the podcast and video) will be undertaken in collaboration with the funder of the SWIS Trial (What Works for Children’s Social Care – WWCSC).
Funders“Innovation for All” is supported by Research Wales Innovation Funding (RWIF) from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).