‘You won’t need any of that theory nonsense’: a student’s experience of a social work placement

A Newly Qualified Social Worker reflects on their experiences on placement and the anti-intellectualism 'rife' in social work workplaces

Photo: StockPhotoPro/Fotolia

by Anjum Shah

“Forget everything you’ve learned at university, you won’t need any of that theory nonsense here.”

This was amongst the first things I heard on my final social work placement.

Anti-intellectualism was rife, and widely advocated by my practice educator and some peers during my hospital social work placement. The common attitude I witnessed was one that brushed off theoretical thinking as university snobbery which was replaced with the fallacy of a common-sense approach to social work.

While exceptions existed, the majority of my peers belligerently maintained this attitude.

For those that have been through the process will know that in order to qualify, students have to show evidence of how they have “built links between theory and practice.” If ever there was a dreaded phrase in practice it was certainly this.

In supervision meetings where theory-practice links were supposed to be drawn, what actually appeared was a tokenistic plastering of clichés including “person centred” and “anti-oppressive working” across reports and university documents.

Students are forced in to prescriptive ways of reflective writing to create evidence. Common examples of reflections I had to write were not good enough until I spelled out my use of theory.

“I used strengths perspective when I worked with service user X by…” was a common and applauded thread which I’m sure can be seen in the portfolios of many social work students.

‘Unwelcome and misunderstood’

Conceptual and analytical writing was more than often unwelcome and misunderstood; but highly descriptive writing using theoretical buzzwords seemed to be welcomed.

Paranoia of making sure the boxes were ticked dominated my social work training experience. I couldn’t help but feel this was a transference of the fear of legal backlash social workers constantly consider.

A very narrow view of what theory is exists in social work circles, which includes practice methods like strengths perspective, crisis intervention and systems theory being seen as de-facto theory.

While these are somewhat shaped by strands of underpinning theories like Liberalism, Capitalism, Marxism or Existentialism, these topics are rarely discussed in practice and are only name dropped at university without serious consideration.

To make matters worse, the constraints of working in a local authority means political discussion is a highly sensitive no-go area, which workers are formally asked to not discuss.

How then is a social worker supposed to situate his or her practice within the broader political and social structures of the world and understand the issues of their service users? Or are we not supposed to do this? It seems impossible when training does not cater for deep social and political thinking and practice environments are hostile to genuine political and social exchange.

Frankly, nobody cared or was interested in developing theoretical ideas on placement.


The pressures of managing caseloads as well as supervising students was a burden most practice educators didn’t really want. Hence the problem was three-fold: a practice educator with an inadequate grounding in social, political and philosophical literature, which fed off broader anti-intellectual attitudes and resource limitations restricting the need to give adequate support to students attempting to piece together university and practice.

What results is two different bodies co-existing and not interacting, university education and practice placement with neither helping or considering the other.

Ironically, university placement guidelines were spelled out anti-intellectualism as a student crime that comes with the threat of fatal consequences. They fail to recognise the extent of the attitudes in practice and seem satisfied with densely produced tokenistic pseudo-intellectualism.

Finally, if universities and placement providers are serious about the success and longevity of the social services, more serious development of practice educator guidelines and training need to be introduced. The practice educator role should not be an addition to maintaining the regular responsibilities of a practitioner.

Social work as an academic discipline need to pay greater attention to philosophy, politics and sociology to secure the multidisciplinary and perceived brittle roots of social work thought.

Only through tightening the reigns and increasing academic standards can the discipline hope to maintain and produce holistic practitioners who can contribute to broader discussions about social work and social change.

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23 Responses to ‘You won’t need any of that theory nonsense’: a student’s experience of a social work placement

  1. Tom J December 13, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Interesting article

    • Mohamed Elmaazi December 15, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

      The author describes perhaps one of the key problem. Although commonly described as “anti-intellectualism”, the real issue is the deliberate “de-politicisation” of society. One cannot meaningfully engage in any subject in a de-politicised environment, and perhaps inevitably any de-politicised populace will react harshly to ideas and ways of thinking they are not trained in and that expose the inherently political nature of all work.

      As the author himself/herself notes:

      “To make matters worse, the constraints of working in a local authority means political discussion is a highly sensitive no-go area, which workers are formally asked to not discuss”

      My guess would be that said “constraints” are a relatively new phenomenon.

  2. Too old for this stuff December 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

    and then we wonder why we aren’t taken seriously as professionals??

  3. Andrew December 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    I recognise this is a students experience and I can’t take this away from them, however I would hate for future student social workers to think that this is the view of all placements.

    I am a Practice Educator and it can be difficult to always prescriptively name theories to practice because I feel like it becomes second nature almost like driving a car. However having students keen and proactive to share there interpretation of theory and to then coach, help or even just listen how this links to practice I think is helpful and also important to make sense of service users lifes.

    I also disagree that talking about political issues in local authorities are a no-go area. I have worked in 4 different local authorities and have never felt ashamed to highlight the reasons why our roles exist and think it is useful to explore these to make sense of our purpose in the wider picture.

    I hope this student can help embrace and encourage change in their future role and not become desensitized by what they have experienced in their final placement.

  4. Katherine Beattie December 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    Hello Anjum,
    I’m very interested in your article and think you are making some important points for us all to consider. It feels like a very disappointing and disheartening experience.
    I’m wondering if your experience reflects a particular culture in your area?
    As a Social Worker working in Adult Social Care I cannot say your experience reflects mine. I qualified with an MA- as did a number of my peers and we encourage students who spend time with us to develop a keen intellectual thinking as part of their learning and development. That keeps us on our toes and also gives us all a boost in energy. I’ve never heard any of my Social colleagues discourage intellectualism.
    Best Wishes to you.

  5. Frustrated PE December 13, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

    I agree this article highlights the huge gap in communication between Practice Educators and HEI staff teaching on degree programmes. It is generally agreed amongst PE’s that the role is a very isolating one, with the Student “in the middle”. I have previous experience of working as a PE with Students whilst also being a frontline practitioner, and being expected by my employer to hold a full caseload, and more latterly working as an Independent PE, which means I no longer work in the frontline, but continue to practice teach Students as a self-employed person, therefore being responsible for keeping myself up-to-date with sw developments, HEI requirements, political & philosophical debates, etc. My experience through this route is that I am able to offer Students a much more holistic view of social work as a discipline, and I feel I can concentrate more fully on their learning needs. I have found that generally, the feedback I receive from Students is very positive, and they appreciate the “long arm” PE role, as they have a supervisor in the workplace who oversees their casework, etc. This arrangement is changing, however, under the requirements for the new local authority/HEI partnerships, which reduces the number of Independent PE’s working with students to 20%, therefore reducing the possibility for experienced PE’s to share their time and knowledge with Students in a meaningful way, as proposed by Anjum. Coupled with the fact that there is a huge gap in communication between PE’s and HEI’s, there is little opportunity to support Independent PE’s with additional training to help them meet the requirements of Students, as highlighted by this article. I would suggest that the problems encountered by Anjum are not wholly in relation to PE guidelines and training, but a lack of recognition of the importance of the PE role within the whole process of the education of Student social workers.

  6. Dr Steve Rogowski December 13, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

    This is a welcome, thought-provoking article which many/most practice educators/managers should read and digest.

  7. Katie Politico December 13, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Michael Gove, in his previous job and as a member of the then social work task force, advocated a non-intellectual approach to social work training. He stated in so many words that people receive social work intervention because they make the wrong choices. He repudiated the study of inequality and the causes of inequality. The ‘profession’ will be privatised in its entirety by this government so it is no surprise that an understanding of social structure is being jettisoned. Indeed it is my contention that statutory responsibility will be removed in its entirety under this government.

  8. ianKemp December 13, 2017 at 6:07 pm #

    Yes I would agree . Social work is no longer a profession … It is just part of local Gov control system . Social workers are just cogs in the bureaucratic wheel . There is no status or respect from the local authority and little from other professions.
    The way forward……. well, It requires a major overhaul, First, a separate Social care department would need to be created. It would be separately funded and include home care all care homes. all with proper professional training.The local authority system is over bureaucratic insensitive and incredibly expensive, delivering a marginal service at great cost. There are to many managers of this and that, paid a lot of money. Empires are created. Disciplinary procedures are used with little care or concern except to win regardless of the person involved . Often quite trivial misdemeanours, or a senior manager who does not like somebody.
    This mentality is often not dissimilar to 15th century kangaroo court with out the physical torture and hangings, but plenty of mental torture. Managers cared little for the social worker, and what the consequences might be for the person before their kangaroo court. There was no empathy or care.
    I spent 44 years at the coal face as a team manager social worker senior social worker in all areas of social work . I was a regular, then retired and continued as locum in about 22 local authorities. I had previously worked in industry and am a triple graduate. More often, I found more humanity in the industrial world than anyware in the last 25 years in social work. The local Gov system bureaucratised than squeezed the life out of social work.
    When I left industry in the early 70s and eventually trained as a social worker , the unions were strong. There were lots of committed young grads , We managed the bureaucracy, controlled it , The ethos was professional. We were well supported by committed managers, and as I say a strong union. We were heading in the right direction . Of course it was not perfect, but the ethos was professional and caring . Than with the advent of Thatcher and neoliberalism social work was bureaucratised, . Local Gov took control and gradually squeezed the life out of what was a real caring job. Of cause it was political. Thatcher and the Tories did not like the word social . Any way there was no such thing as society. WE fort it in the 80s I remember. But, a series of child care tragedies, ment that bureaucratic control rather than a considered professional approach was the focus . Social work lost its status such as it was. There was very poor management of a hostile media by a whole range of directors of social work, who should have known better.
    The bureaucrats gradually took over . Directors of social work disappeared. The whole care system was part privatised, The purchaser provider split. This, created further bureaucracy. Care homes were sold off. and social workers became the cogs in the system, gradually the life was squeezed out of any sort of professionalism.
    The anti intellectual environment that is local authority began to dominate. and indeed control what remained of social work.. Computers, increasingly became the dominant tool that one had to learn to manage somehow. The client and any sort of professional analysis was lost as social workers became ever under the control of whatever the latest management wheeze was about. Mainly controlling budgets. More mangers were required to manage a already top heavy bureaucracy. All paid ever bigger salaries to keep them on board. The service to clients decreased to the margins some ware. The costs rose as more and more managers were required to manage the system.
    The Hpcc was set up to manage the system when something or other failed . That I fear is the present state of what remains of social work m as a profession . It is not a happy state of affairs.
    The only way forward, if social work is regain any sort of professional status Is to create a separate department called SOCIAL CARE Include all care homes and carers . Professionalise them Train them .It will be costly but in the end cheaper and more professional ,. and above more caring. The local authority system has failed . It is to bureaucratic, costly and insensitive inflexible and lacks any real care.

    • Graham December 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

      Apart from some sweeping generalisations, I broadly agree with Ian that social work ‘ain’t what it used to be’. However he should remember that back in the ‘good old days’ (ie pre-managerialism) local authorities did run social work – as radical and unionised as it sometimes was. It was local government, not just social work, that was wrecked by Tory legislation. Re-creating old style social services depts., complete with home care teams and care homes but outside of local democratic control, would just be another route to privatisation, as driving down costs would still be the main Govt. priority and national, rather than local govt. would be completely in control.
      As for anti-intellectualism, when I trained 35 years ago Sociology, Social Policy and Psychology were key academic subjects and Social Work Method as it was called was strongly practice based with theoretical perspectives drawn from that – not the other way round. I would read a 10 page chapter followed by 2 pages of references. Nowadays I read a 5 page chapter followed by 10 pages of references. It seems that many academics write for each other and show off how much they have read of other academics. Maybe the need to publish leads academics to write when they don’t have much to say – literature of research reviews that are dull and derivative don’t really tell you much you don’t already know. This leads, I think, to a distrust of academia that is unfortunate.
      A major problem with social work theory is that it is not really scientific – i.e. based on experiments that can be repeated and peer reviewed leading to general agreement (at least until proved wrong!). Social work idea are based on the political, philosophical and moral ideas of those constructing them and although they may be a useful perspective from which to practiced, they are not universal truths any more than human rights or equality are. Moreover another person may have a totally different perspective and they cannot be proved wrong, just disagreed with (this of course is the basis of all politics). Social Work is therefore deeply political and does not benefit from rigid philosophical and moral dogmas (although some may disagree). Avoiding the pitfalls of a full and frank political discourse in social work, involving all viewpoints, has led to an over-reliance on worthy but superficial concepts such as ‘person centred’ and ‘needs led’ (really? in this financial climate?) replacing
      a deeper and more nuanced analysis of social intervention. I remember reading on of the aforementioned 5 page chapters that used the word ‘reflexive’ more than 35 times to ‘sex up’ what was a run of the mill set of ideas – I rest my case.

  9. Jimbo December 13, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your views. I too had a hospital social work placement and the high pressure of the environment and close working with the NHS isn’t always the easiest place for experienced social workers (practice educators included) to have the space to apply that greater level of thought and consideration you’ve spoken about. I was a little luckier than yourself as my PE was aware of these challenges of the work setting and welcomed such discussions but I think it’s easy to see how what you describe can slip in. Take my hat off to you for having the depth of thought to consider the theories and macro context of what we do. I think there can be an unease to discuss and reflect on what is outside of our immediate control which is a shame

  10. Alex December 13, 2017 at 10:07 pm #

    I remember on my first days in a CP team as a student, many of the experienced SWs making the statement that they were looking forward to hearing me tell them all about theory, with the implication that it was rarely used or discussed in the workplace. Disconcerting for a student to be positioned as an expert despite vast inexperience.

    A major issue in my view is the lack of direct connections between academia and practice once one qualifies. Academics are rarely in frontline practice or management, and vice versa. Therefore the profession lacks a key link between those developing academic thinking about the work we do, and actual practice on the ground, particularly in statutory settings. Whilst there is a lot to dislike about the medical model from a SW perspective, one lesson to be learned from medicine is the direct links between academia, research and practice. University Hospitals being a case in point, where consultants lecture and conduct research whilst remaining in contact with patients on a day to day basis. Would love to see this adopted by LAs.

    Without this, alongside the proliferation of what appear to be largely value free fast track models of training, we are at real risk in my view, of becoming even more detached from the political, philosophical and sociological underpinnings of the profession. As a result we are even more prey to being tossed by the fads and ideological hobby horses of politicians, and as a result will as a profession act in more and more oppressive ways toward the people we work for and with.

  11. Beverley December 14, 2017 at 1:09 am #

    Good luck and best wishes. You sound like the real deal type of person that is desperately needed in social work .

    • Linda December 14, 2017 at 10:14 pm #

      Are you joking?

  12. David December 14, 2017 at 6:52 am #

    Interesting post. In my final SW placement my prac teacher did emphasize theory (though the manager rubbished it). But Anjum-it will be ure practice when u qualify, to make your own. I have been qualified now just 5 years and while not easy (in part for sime of the reasons u mention) i have continued to attempt to develop an integration of theory and practice, along with a philosophical and ethical underpinning of what i do. You will find like minded people and this helps.

    Social work is a very political job. The above will assist. While laughed at (in good faith) my position has both helped my work and (i think) generated respect.

    Good luck. And never stop thinking!

  13. Janet December 14, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

    As a social worker with over 20 years experience, discussion in the work place (LA) was encouraged with theory intercepted with practical examples. You have to be politically and socially aware in social work. AYSEs and students were welcomed as they brought new social work theories to the team. As a PE – I was bewildered whilst doing my training of the different theories but on closer reading that I already knew these theories under a different name. In the majority of social work teams, there will be social workers with varying specialities/areas of knowledge who can provide additional aspects i.e Safeguarding , End of Life Care and Advanced Planning, many of which have strong theoretical links.

    Each placement is different – in the voluntary sector more emphasis is sometimes made on theoretical knowledge, and there may be less time constraints on face to face work with clients.
    In a hospital discharge team there are strict time limits around discharging patients so it is rare to have the luxury of being able to actively apply theories when sorting out discharge plans. Only in supervision theories can be discussed and it should be both the PE/Supervisor and the student to approach these.

  14. Milton Pokawa Tucker December 14, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    My advice to a social worker or student who says they don’t need theory in their practice need to go back to uni and sincerely earn their degree. This kind of thinking is the ideal ingredient to fail families, because every aspect of social work activity should be underpin by theory and of course common sense should be part of every day life whether social worker or not. If you don’t use your theory what then informed your intervention into the life of a dysfunctional family, the life of a very traumatise child. RETHINK!!!

  15. Sean Gilligan December 14, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    I am about to start my first placement and have met my practice educator, who seems to be open to linking theory to practice; however, I recognise many of the regrettable trends exposed in the article and the above responses. Social work is intrinsically and inescapably political, no matter how much neoliberal governments want to reduce it to its technical-functional elements, and the opportunity not just to give people rice but to ask why they haven’t got any (to paraphrase Helden Camarro) is why I want to enter the profession. I only hope that I will find enough allies to promulgate the ideal of social justice enshrined in the PCF; otherwise, it’s not worth doing.

  16. Mohammed Patel December 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    As a service user, who works with social care university students. This unfortunately is the reality of social work these days. To much pressure to confirm to the relevant political thought process.

    I often see these young people at the start full of enthusiasm and a we want to make a difference attitude. A lot of them have had good experiences with social care and belive very strongly in it.

    A few years after placements and they’ve unfortunately have had all thier enthusiasm. Squeezed out of them.

    Service users are keen to work with the students , to explain and help them understand, they are key in making differences to our lives.

    My introduction always ends, you are the future, stick to values and beliefs you come with. One day when the old school have been replaced you will have the opertunitity to put In place your ideas and views. So hang in there you are the future.

  17. Rachael Hitchinson December 14, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

    I will happily write the other side of this. I had a completely different experience in both of my placements (one that I’m just finishing up in the next couple of months). Not all placements are like this!

  18. The Voice Of Reason December 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm #

    What a fascinating article, and very thought-provoking!

    I would suggest that this article, and the responses to it, highlight a huge problem that exists not only within Social Work training practice placements, but within actual Social Work itself as a job. Indeed, within ANY health and care profession, including Nursing, Medicine, Occupational Therapy, etc…

    The heart of the problem appears to be this – that some people upon qualifying as workers appear to throw out of the metaphorical window all that they learned whilst training. They abandon all the theory they learned, they forget all the models of practice, they no longer situate a service-user’s problems within the relevant socio-econo-political context. Indeed, it is hard to understand exactly what they DO do! I would liken it to those many people who take their driving test and behave perfectly whilst under training, but once they have a licence to drive, they appear to forget all they were taught and become careless, maybe even reckless. Is this a trait in some humans? Or maybe even all humans?

    Personally, I feel that it has a lot to do with the individual in question; their values, their intellectual level and interests, their attitude to life. Sadly, whole workplaces can develop this “throw everything you learned out of the window” attitude, and perhaps this is why some practice placements are good and some rubbish. Perhaps this is why some Social Workers, Nurses, Doctors etc. feel comfortable and valued at work, whilst others do not. Stagnation in a workplace is something that stifles intellectualism, stifles creativity, stifles imagination, stifles new thoughts and ingenuity… What we ought to be asking is why this attitude occurs.

    If, as is suggested, some trainee Social Workers are finding placements dissatisfying because a “you won’t need any of that theory nonsense” exists in some workplaces, then this clearly demonstrates that for some actual, on-the-job, qualified Social Workers this same problem exists. Clearly, some are working in deeply unsatisfying, stifling, unsupportive environments, wit managers and colleagues who encourage ignorance and ignorant practice. These same ignorant individuals are likely to be the ones giving students rotten placements. Alas, it appears that students are very good at picking up on this appalling experience – BUT NOBODY SEEMS TO BE LISTENING TO THEM.

    Why do we have this “same old same old” nonsense? Why are Public Sector jobs ones in which those people who highlight deficiencies or suggest improvements are rarely listened to? Strikes me that we are seeing that age old “sack the whistleblower” problem rearing its ugly head again! Or, something very similar.

    If students are noting that some placements are lacking, and that there is a crass attitude towards theory and practice within some placements, then it makes sense to understand that these same placements for students represent workplaces for actual Social Workers that may be failing. One student’s terrible placement is another qualified Social Worker’s terrible workplace! Surely if a student is picking up on problems, and bad attitudes in a placement, then these exist within that environment as a workplace too. So, we should be asking just what it is that leads to such problems in workplaces – that leads to the “throw the learning out of the window” attitude.

    My personal experience of working as a Social Worker may shed light on this. I went from working in one job where my manager was excellent, the team I worked in were very coherent and supportive of each-other, you were encouraged to regularly discuss matters of theory and practice, supervision was regular and effective… to working in a job where there was NO supervision (I eventually had to demand it!), colleagues were grumpy and unsupportive, there was workplace bullying and high staff turnover, and my manager was both physically and emotionally inaccessible (he just locked himself away in an office). I have no doubt whatsoever that team dynamics and the overall feel of the workplace can affect how people end up working. Staff in the latter workplace were extremely mechanistic, and I had a sense that they were there for the money, and that was all.

    So, here’s my list of reasons why workers may de-intellectualise work, and thus “stagnate”:

    1. Because their training was so long ago, and they are so set in their “old school” ways that they fear change and anything new, seeing it as a threat – thus they reject new ideas and new people!

    2. Because their training was so long ago they have forgotten much, if not all, of it!

    3. Because they are only in the job for the money.

    4. Because they are only in the job due to nepotism (e.g. a doctor from a family of doctors who see being a doctor as “tradition”), or cronyism (e.g. their manager is their best drinking buddy, and a friend of a friend got them the job) – they are not really interested in the work, but know that even if they do it badly, nobody dares say anything, because THEY “know all the right people”!

    5. They are simply not very academic, and struggle to wrap their heads around even the simplest of tasks, let alone relating theory to practice – goodness alone knows how they ever passed their training!

    6. The workplace/placement is short-staffed, under-funded, lacking resources and morale amongst workers reflects this – the last thing a Practice Teacher here wants to have to deal with is a student asking questions about some bizarre theory they last heard of eight years ago!

    7. They are “burned out” – working under austerity measures, with little support, funding, resources, time, etc. has worn the worker down to a point close to giving up.

    8. They fear saying or doing the “wrong thing” – a combination of political correctness taken to the extreme, and fear of losing one’s job due to talking about political issues whilst employed in a Local Government setting, has effectively imposed a censorship on free speech, thus stifling innovation, creativity and reflective practice.

    9. The worker has no understanding of reflective practice – they do not appreciate the need to review their own work, and to learn from past experiences, nor do they see the importance of situating this work within its relevant wider context.

    10. The worker’s employer has no understanding of supervision, fails to provide supervision, or fails to provide regular good quality supervision – staff and students alike are thus left without support, with no place to reflect on their practice, with no place to discuss casework and to help effectively manage caseloads, with no place to act as a learning (i.e. through reflection and discussion) environment.

    11. There is a “clique” operating within a workplace – this is problematic because people within a “clique” operate an “in-group versus out-group” styled system. They will share knowledge, experiences and support with members of their “clique”, but ostracise everyone else.

    12. There is bullying in a workplace – this is disastrous because it creates a horrible workplace environment that simply destroys effective working relationships. The target of the bullying is singled out for ridicule, criticism and ultimately, career annihilation. Other workers may fear the same happening to them. Whilst there is a bully, or bullies, in any workplace NOTHING can effectively be achieved. Everyone simply concentrates on “keeping their head down” so as not to become the next target of bullying. Worst of all, bullies may well target the most talented, qualified, innovative, creative, skilled, experienced or productive members of a workplace because these people highlight a bully’s inadequacies.

    13. Censorship – not merely the imagined form, or the fear of (as in point 8) but actual censorship. Some workplaces DO make it abundantly clear that staff are NOT to talk politics, must NOT discuss socio-economic theories and practices, must NOT ask too many (if any) questions about funding or resources or staffing levels or why service-users receive the service they get… Such workplaces have rigid and draconian rules about social media and internet usage (even for personal purposes). They micro-manage EVERYTHING their workers do, from arranging care packages (which they insist must have management sign-off due to financial pressures), dictating caseloads (managers will tell staff how to work with service-users and thus stifle creative working), to what workers are permitted to say. “Whistleblowers” in such workplaces are treated like “scum” for highlighting workplace problems that management demand everyone should turn a “blind eye” to. Such workplaces often suffer from rigid financial constraints, dwindling budgets, dwindling resources, poor staff morale, high staff turnover, and nervous defensive management. The problem is often that managers feel under massive pressure to make, and defend, cuts. Staff are then censored so that the effects of such cuts are hidden.

    The above issues do not exist – and do not need to exist – in every workplace or student placement. Where they do exist, it is a symptom of serious problems that everyone involved would do well to explore. Problems DO NOT go away because we refuse to acknowledge and talk about them. To turn workplaces into better workplaces, and placements into better placements, takes thought, intervention, planning plus acknowledgement and correction of any deficiencies. This cannot happen if it is neither recognized, nor discussed, in the first place. Fear of intellectualism is a worrying thing, because problems in the main require some thinking about and discussion to resolve. This is an intellectual process. As Social Work is about helping solve societal problems, how can anyone not think of it as an intellectual job?

  19. Faye December 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

    It could have been said as a joke and taken out of context. Our work is underpinned by theory you can’t park it up to the side.

  20. Third year Student December 17, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    I am a student on my third year placement within LA in a child in need team. The team do everything from assessments through to adoption. With many cases escalating to child protection. The social workers have case loads of 30plus. But I completely disagree with this article. I feel so supportive from my PE and the other social workers. I am awalys linking my practice to theory within daily practice, throughout supervision and through the assessments I am completing. So I guess it all depends on the placement and team what you are placed in. Unfortunately for you, you seem to have had a bad experience within your placement.