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Jenny Rafter

Deputy Head of School & Associate Professor
Faculty of Health, Medicine and Social Care
School of Allied Health and Social Care

Jenny is a qualified social worker, who started her career in adult mental health in East London.  She then worked for a children's charity as a social based social worker across schools in the East of England. In 2019, she was appointed as the deputy head of school for social work. Since this time, the National Student Survey for social work at ARU now exceeds the sector and the course in ranked within the top ten in the Guardian league tables.  She also led the team through procurement to secure social work degree apprenticeships within the region and in 2024.

Twitter: @JennyRafter

Email: [email protected]


When she joined ARU, she championed the role of social workers in schools. In response to the pandemic, she launched the SWIS (social workers in schools) project - the project has now entered its third year and works with over 130 schools who host social work student placements. She then commissioned to roll out a project in the region by a neighbouring teaching partnership.

Areas of Expertise:

  • School social work 
  • Community practice and poverty 
  • Deprivation
Research interests

Jenny is studying for her post doc, in relation to school practice. She has formed an international network of academics who share her passion and interest in school social work and she has begun to collaborate and share her early insight of the potential benefits of the project. She has presented at national and international conferences promoting school social work.


Jenny is a Senior fellow in Higher Education and in 2022 was appointed as Associate Professor in social work recognition of her excellence in teaching, leadership within the social work team and external esteem. She is a regular recipient of the student voted ‘Made a difference’ award, who consistently rate her passion for teaching and student support.

  • BSc Social Psychology, Loughborough
  • MA Social Work, London Metropolitan
  • Practice Education, ARU
  • PGCert in Education, ARU
Selected recent publications

Rafter, J. (2022), "Revisiting social workers in schools (SWIS) – making the case for safeguarding in context and the potential for reach", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCS-04-2021-0015

Recent presentations and conferences

International practice learning conference, virtual 2021

Joint social work research and education conference, 2022 (Leeds) and 2023 (Glasgow)

Social work Week, Social work Education event, 2023

International School social work conference, Colorado, US 2023