Social work diary: ‘Even a routine visit can generate a lot of work’

A children's social worker reflects on a working week that brought home the pressures facing young people taking exams


Today I visit an 11 year old in foster care. He is studying for his SATs tests in school, looks tired and is worried that he will do badly. His parents expected him to be a high achiever, then criticised him a lot, so he lacks confidence in his skills.

We talk about some of the old SATd papers he is practising on and the extra tuition he has received. He comes over as someone who will do well, but helping them see it is difficult.

I talk to the foster carers about how they are helping him cope.


In the news a health professional has said that the habit of people bringing cakes into offices for snacking is helping to promote tooth decay in many adults. It’s common in our office too and very tempting, especially if people feel under stress.

Our computer system is off for maintenance this morning and the team have to resort to using pen and paper. It’s not easy for some of them but easier for what a child in care that I visited recently called the BBC generation – those Born Before Computers. He meant me!


I make a visit with a health visitor to a family where there are many concerns. We talk to the four-year-old in their bedroom. It’s very messy and there is an electric fire with a bare element, so we immediately warn the child’s mother about this.

The two-year-old child can only speak his father’s language and, as we couldn’t get an interpreter, we cannot speak to him. The health visitor does checks on the children, but the younger one loudly refuses to be weighed.

I talk about safer forms of heating with their mother and agree to see if we can help her fund buying new heaters. I will have to make an unannounced visit to them to make sure the dangerous heater is not being used and get some advice about fire safety.

Even a routine visit can generate a lot of work!


I have a teenager on a child protection plan that won’t go to school and won’t discuss it. There is concern that he spends the day with similar children in a flat with two young parents who look after neighbour’ young children. They aren’t registered childminders.

As part of the child protection plan I visit to the flat. Someone looks through the letterbox and swears at me to go away. Realising I’m a risk, I quickly leave and will return with the police.


I am at a school seeing the child in care that I saw Monday. He feels more optimistic today. The headmaster tells me about the pressure everyone feels about the upcoming SATs tests. There is a fear that if their SATS results don’t improve, pressure will be applied to make the school become an academy. It’s difficult for teachers and pupils to live under this threat and carry on day-to-day.

Small wonder, then, that I see a plate of cakes in their staff room.

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