Steve Bagnall


Steve began social work in a London Borough but left after 2 years having decided it was “mission impossible”. He was back a year later because he thought it was too important to be “mission impossible”. He wanted to find a way it could be done and done well. The ideas and techniques that helped him most in sustaining that vision over 40 years have been from his systemic training. He studied at Cambridge University, the London School of Economics and the Open University. He trained as a social work student at the Maudsley Hospital, where he was introduced to systemic ideas, which he found practical and useful. This led to 4 years systemic training at the Institute of Family Therapy and Tavistock Clinic. He has a lot of roles since then: social worker, youth worker, couple counsellor. He has also been Deputy CEO of Relate and worked as Assistant Director for Children’s Social Care. As he took up senior roles, he found systemic ideas were also valuable in addressing organisational and leadership issues, and he found them more useful than some of the “official wisdom” about organisations he learned on an MBA.

He remains passionate about using systemic ideas in children’s social care. In recent years he has shared that in over 20 different local authorities training social workers, managers and leaders, and in coaching social work managers on the Firstline programme.

He is a former Secretary & Treasurer of the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic

Practice, and was Chair of Council for IFT from 2001 to 2007.