Advanced Practice for Independent Reviewing Officers HEA4173


This module focuses on the strategic importance of the statutory Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) role within local authority services to looked after children and young people and the knowledge, skills and values required by the Independent Reviewing Officer to assess and monitor care planning and challenge local authority provision and/or practice where appropriate.

The proposed module focuses on the core capabilities that support effective practice in the role and offers an informed, efficient and quality assured route to attaining and developing these capabilities, thereby supporting better practice in social care and better outcomes for people who use social care services and the local authorities and other agencies that provide them. It also provides a useful, relevant and certificated opportunity to practitioners to demonstrate compliance with continuing professional development requirements of the relevant professional register.

Module Code: HEA4173
Level: 7
Credits: 20
Cost: £680 for Sept 2020 to July 2021

Who is this module for?

Learners enrolled on this module must be currently registered as a social worker with the HCPC and must have sufficient relevant social work experience in children’s social care to undertake the required functions as set out in any relevant statutory guidance for independent reviewing officers and local authorities.

What are the key aims of the programme?

Focusing clearly on the goal of safeguarding children, the module aims to examine and develop the capability of Independent Reviewing Officers to maintain a critical and evidence informed understanding of risk assessment and management and facilitation of effective interprofessional/multi agency working.

What will I study?

  • Safeguarding looked after children - a critical review of current legislative, policy and guidance frameworks.
  • Working with risk - understanding the links between adversity, vulnerability, protection and resilience (including a review of the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary risk assessment and management models and tools).
  • Working towards the goal - critically evaluating assessment and planning around the needs and welfare of looked after children.
  • Testing reliability - understanding human bias in professional judgement and the role of hypothesis, critical analysis and challenge.
  • The child within the family - a critical understanding and application of systems theory, attachment theory and child development theory.
  • Constructive engagement - productive approaches to using the views and agency of the child, their parent(s) and others, including the application of narrative theory, transference and defence mechanisms, strengths based approaches and task based approaches in work with children and families.
  • Finding and using research for evidence informed practice.
  • Owning the role - establishing and maintaining authority within the IRO role when working with other services and professionals.
  • Learning from experience - key messages from children, families and practice.

How will I be assessed?

Essay (30% module weighting).
Critical analysis of the scope, impact and implications of the role of IRO in children's safeguarding (1500 words).

Presentation (70% module weighting).
Presentation: anonymised critically reflective analysis of one example of case work and outcomes, highlighting effective practice and areas for development in IRO practice (30 mins).

To pass this module, a grade of 40% must be achieved on each assessment component.

On successful completion you will:

  • Critically analyse the role of the IRO with reference to current legislative, policy and guidance frameworks for looked after children in England.
  • Critically analyse effective approaches to risk assessment and management.
  • Critically analyse effective approaches to planning, delivering and evaluation of care and support for looked after children.
  • Critically reflect on and evaluate own practice in IRO role for looked after children to identify strengths and areas and strategies for effective professional development.

Study Dates and Venues

Further Information

Module availability varies from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. Applicants who deferred from the intake in March 2020 will be invited to attend the intake commencing 29/04/2021. Due to the popularity of some modules it may be that the module is fully booked when your application is received. We will include your details on a waiting list and allocate you a place on the next available intake.

For details of how to apply, please visit the apply page.

If you have any other queries about studying with us, please see the FAQ page.

For further module information, please contact the Module Coordinator, Nigel Kelleher on 01695 650 881 or email [email protected] or the School office email [email protected].


This is a stand alone module that is not linked to any specific programme of further study. However, Edge Hill University is currently developing a post graduate qualification route (PG certificate and PG diploma) that may incorporate this module.