Mark Doel, Routledge. ISBN 0 415 49912 5
Social work placements are a central element of social work degree courses but unfortunately they often do not receive the attention they deserve. Many universities are now facing significant problems securing quality placements in the statutory field which itself is facing considerable fiscal and human resource pressures.
Mark Doel’s unique and helpful student text is however aimed at those who are undertaking this most important part of their social work education. As the author remarks, if one asks an established social worker about their training they will almost certainly talk about their placement experiences.
What is different and I believe valuable about Doel’s book is that he has written for students embarking on and a journey through the terrain he calls Socialworkland. This fictional but nevertheless realistic world has in its geography the garden of mistakes, the pond of doubt, the bridge of decision making, the orchard of new ideas and so on. Written in a jargon free and accessible style the author accompanies the student right from the start of the journey when they need to successfully transverse the Criminal Record Check through some of the highs and lows they must expect on their journey, right up to their writing up of their placement.
It must be accepted that not all students will want to conceptualise their placement as a journey, but for those who do this is a powerful and useful text.
Keith Popple is Professor of Social Work, London South Bank University