Tell us about your experiences of social work practice placements

Community Care and Unison have launched a joint survey to find out what students and newly qualified social workers think about current practice learning provision across the UK.

We hear time and again that there are not enough high quality practice placements available for social work students – and this not only damages some people’s future career prospects, but could also put vulnerable people at risk.

So Community Care and Unison would like to invite final year students and newly qualified social workers (within two years of qualifying) to take part in our anonymous survey, to tell us about your experiences of practice learning. Were you well supported during your first and final placements? Did you feel ready for practice at the end? What impact did your experiences have on your ability to find a position as a qualified social worker?

The survey takes only minutes to complete and the results, which will be published on Community Care at the end of this month, will be used to push for better practice learning provision in the future.

Closing date: 23 October

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6 Responses to Tell us about your experiences of social work practice placements

  1. Janet Smith October 10, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    I find the survey very useful as it does required an answer to all the problems that I experienced in my final placement. This include, lack of support from all concerns, tutor, off-site practice educator and on-site supervisor.

    Janet Smith
    Final year Social Work Student

    • Kirsty McGregor
      Kirsty McGregor October 10, 2013 at 11:44 am #

      Thanks Janet – these are exactly the kinds of issues we’d like to know about. Kirsty

      • Janet Smith October 23, 2013 at 10:30 am #

        I was placed in a primary school with little statutory power. My role mainly involved running after school clubs and lunch time clubs. I was never given the opportunity to work along side a qualified social worker nor provided with an opportunity to work with other agencies. I find it difficult to link some of my competency units with the roles allocated to me. A final year placement student according to my placement handbook should be involved in more complex roles and decision making in readiness for practice, but my situation was completely different. I raised concerns during the placement and I wasn’t listen to, instead my placement was suspended and later terminated unfairly.

        I experienced huge power imbalance from the on-site supervisor who is the learning mentor with no clear understanding of my social work roles. Lack of support from off-site practice educator with limited supervision resulted in failing my placement unfairly.

        I would like to inform you that having experienced lack of support from off-site practice educator and external tutor, my placement got terminated and my student status was eventually terminated from the university. Despite the bad management of the placement, I was able to do huge amount of work from being a lead professional to running a social friendship group in the school. Up to my midpoint was fine. None of my work after the midpoint was taken into consideration and none of the assessment process was used to assess my work in the placement.

        This has caused me mental distress and I feel I have been treated unfairly in the placement and procedures were not followed.

  2. Aidan Hanna October 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    There has been an increase in workfare type work experience placements in nursing homes. The schemes offer no pre work experience training or registration with professional councils. Very worrying.

  3. Aidan Hanna October 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Many social work students are working in minimum wage supported living roles. They see so much bad practice and abuse it will effect their career if they were to speak up and blow the whistle.

  4. Uzume October 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    I have been very lucky with my current placement (3rd year) but the 1st and 2nd were not so good, both were in the voluntary sector! In year 1, the manager was totally disengaged with the process and I had to find my own work and project, something my colleagues had provided for them by the placement.
    In year 2, the Practice Supervisor had clearly taken on too much; 50% of my ‘supervision’ was me line managing her it seemed. I was so thankful to have an off site Practice Educator who was really on the ball and knew the handbook inside out. In addition, she was hot on theory and so I managed to do well.

    My current placement is my first statutory experience and I must admit to feeling totally unprepared when I walked through the door. Some of my student colleagues had already been placed in stat in year 2 as they were across the border in a different county. My county doesn’t take Y2s in the LA.

    I think the experience has been good overall, however, I do think there are issues with placements. I had a long discussion about this with the tutor who finds placements and I know how hard she works to find good placements. They are drying up due to closures and the merging of services, plus competing universities for the same patch so I’m not sure what the answer is. I know the Y1 placement has been removed for the new intake in my uni, which I think is a good thing. The days will be replaced with ‘skills days’ to offer a wider scope of experience in Y1.

    What I discovered is that, as long as you are prepared to put in some effort, you can really make the most of pretty much anywhere if you focus on what you are trying to achieve. If you have Service users, you can ‘do’ social work!
    I am currently placed in a Fostering Team for my LA but I have negotiated 1 day pw in safeguarding to fulfill what I consider to be my learning and experience needs. In Y2, I used the relationship I built up with my PS to create an opportunity to provide 1-2-1 parenting sessions with families about to be referred to Gateway Panel. Everything worked out fine in the end, despite the placements not being ideal.

    The issue in my county, from what I could tell, was the lack of support from LA departments to providing placements in y2. There is also an issue with NQSWs being left aside for permanent positions in plenty of cases, so perhaps the key to placements is similar – LAs must play their part in giving the new generation of SWs a chance to train and work!