Social work diary: ‘Opportunities to reflect on our practice are far too rare’

A children's social worker looks back on her week on the frontline...

By an anonymous social worker


As I slurp my coffee, I read an article about Michael Gove’s views on the state of social work education. I can’t help thinking that Michael Gove’s views are an outright ideological attack on the social work profession and the poor.

I end my reading at the point where Mr Gove begins to criticise the quality of social workers and his concerns about the teaching of anti-oppressive practice and how this takes the focus away from individual responsibility.

Yes it is entirely a parent’s responsibility if they harm their child. However it is entirely necessary for social workers to learn about oppression. The vast majority of the groups that social workers work with are from poor and marginalised communities. I have never met a single social worker, not one, who was not passionate about their work yet I have met plenty who tell me that they are unable to do the job they long to do without unnecessary bureaucracy and without access to necessary resources.


It’s supervision time today. I look forward to the feedback and direction I get in supervision. I’ve experienced differing quality in supervision throughout my career. In general I have found that opportunities to reflect are in general lacking. One manager told me I spend ‘too much time’ with families. I was surprised to say the least.

Luckily for me my new manager is far more concerned with the quality of the assessment and outcome of intervention I have with families rather than primarily focussing on how many ‘red’ out of date forms I have on my computer. Supervision ends early as a colleague needs urgent advice.


I spend the entire day in court. I see the child’s mother on my way in as security check my bag. She diverts her eyes.  I always try to make eye contact and say hello.

The morning is spent engaged in legal debate about whether the child, who has experienced chronic neglect, should be accommodated. The guardian wants me to agree to additional resources on the care plan, if the order is made. The department’s solicitor is pressuring me to do this but I hold out. With no managers available to speak with I am unable to agree to the allocation of the council’s resources.

The mother does not actively consent nor oppose the making of the order; this is likely to mean that she has been given advice that she is unlikely to be successful in her opposition to the order. Her counsel fears she will try to flee the local area with the children. Upon making of the order, I put plans into place to prevent this from occurring and leave the child in her new foster placement at 8pm.


It’s filing Friday today. I’m bemused with the bits of paper, toffee wrappers, leaking pens and receipts that I find in my bag. I overhear a familiar high pitched voice shouting. It’s a young person who has come in to ask for a reissue of her bus pass, as she has lost it.

As I round the corner, I manage to calm the situation. I agree the bus pass on the proviso that the young person lowers her voice and stops shouting and swearing, which she proceeds to do and says: “Sorry…but she wasn’t listening!”. I doubt this; given the rate of decibels she was screaming her request at my colleague.

My week ends on a positive. I receive an e-mail from a solicitor thanking me for ‘watertight’ evidence in court yesterday, which led to an Interim Care Order and the child’s immediate safety. It’s always refreshing to get praise in a profession frequently vilified.

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