Helen Wenman on how Grow Your Own schemes can help social care employees qualify as social workers
Most Grow Your Own students say they would not have pursued a qualification without the opportunity offered by the scheme. But the change in status from worker to student and the demands of study can be challenging. Those wanting to pursue this route must understand the support available and be aware of what their employer expects in return.
Support in the workplace
This is essential and should be provided by workforce development staff, their line manager or GYO co-ordinator. Managers must also ensure others in the team understand the student’s changed status. Setting up e-mail groups and meeting other GYO students is another valuable avenue for support.
Distance learning versus full-time learning
GYO students on a distance learning or part-time route should not be expected to maintain their former full caseload and duties in addition to taking on academic work. Full-time students also deserve support from their employers throughout the course. Some will be released from their workplace, others will be expected to work, such as in the summer break or more regularly when on distance learning or part-time courses.
Study leave is usually a half-day or one day a week. Employers may grant additional leave at critical points, such as before exams or deadlines. This must all be clarified from the outset.
GYO students should have at least one external placement during their course. Where placements are in the same organisation, caseloads should be reduced and time allowed for study. Students should also tell colleagues that they are on placement so that they are given time to study and reflect.
Funding for course fees and salaries will be met by the employer. On top of this, students generally receive additional financial support for travel and book allowances.
The GYO toolkit has been jointly produced by the GSCC and the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London
Helen Wenman is head of inspection at the GSCC and chaired the project board responsible for producing this toolkit