Laming effect blamed as students steer clear of child protection work

More than one-third of social work degree students want to
specialise in children and families, but only 3 per cent are
attracted to child protection, according to a survey for
Community Care.

The poll of nearly 300 students suggests that the fallout from
Laming and other inquiries is influencing career choices.

Working with older people attracted less than 8 per cent of
respondents, despite the UK’s ageing population. Specialising in
mental health appealed to 13 per cent, while 16 per cent were
undecided about career direction.

Three-quarters expected to work for a local authority, while only 3
per cent saw themselves in the independent sector.

Many expected only a limited career in front-line services, with 28
per cent expecting this to last less than five years and a similar
percentage estimating a five to 10-year stint. Only 7 per cent
wished to work for “as long as possible” at the front line.

The survey also suggests that the government’s high-profile
advertising campaign has had little influence on decisions to study
for the degree, with nine in 10 saying it had had no effect. A
similar proportion said the new General Social Care Council had not
influenced their choice.

The quality of the degree course was rated very highly –
three-quarters felt it prepared them well for the workplace.
Four-fifths rated their placements as good or excellent and 87 per
cent gave similar marks to their placement teachers. Personal
support was not so good, with one in three saying they did not
receive the help they needed.

Although three-quarters of students received a bursary, one-third
expected to run up debts of between £10,000 and £20,000.
A further 40 per cent forecasted debts of up to £10,000.

Nearly two-thirds were supporting themselves by working, and just 9
per cent said they had received funding from their employer to take
the degree.

The survey also shows that social work degree students are already
well qualified people. Nearly two-thirds had GCSEs, nearly half had
A-levels and 40 per cent had a first degree.

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