Writing an essay on children’s services practice

Writing a social work essay on children's services practice by Dr Barry Cooper, lecturer in social work, Open University

by Dr Barry Cooper, lecturer in social work, Open University.


Question: “Identify an example of your practice within children’s services and analyse the key factors that influenced your decision-making.”

A very useful mnemonic for reflection and analysis is H5W: How, Why, What, When, Who & Where. The following can be used as starting prompts when drafting an essay answer and thinking about decisions that you made and were involved in:

• How did you get allocated the work?

• Why was the agency involved with the child(ren)and family?

• Was it urgent and high priority? Did this impact on how decisions were made?

• Who else was involved? Did they influence your decisions? If so, how?

• What was the presenting problem that needed your intervention?

• What were the duties and obligations of your role within this agency?

• What was the relevant legislation?

• What sources of information did you draw upon? How might this have influenced your judgement?

• Was there enough information for the decisions you made? If not, what were the implications of this?

• Who else is involved: wider family networks as well as multi-disciplinary colleagues? Did you speak to them? Professionals? Family? Others? How did you gauge what they told you?

• Did decisions have to be negotiated? What were the constraints and opportunities of this?

• How satisfied were you with the picture that you developed of the situation?

• Did you speak to or see the child?

• What was their view [if age relevant]?

• What was your plan of intervention in this case?

• Did you negotiate an agreement with the family? If so, how did this influence decisions?

• What are the disagreements or areas that have not yet been explored?

• With hindsight, how would you assess the decisions you made at that time, with the particular people involved and in the circumstances of that particular situation?

• What could have been done differently?

Do you have questions about essays? Get advice from fellow students on CareSpace.

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