Thinking the unthinkable to support social work students in this third lockdown

Two social work managers argue that we need to relax practice placement requirements and enhance the ASYE to show our commitment to students and ensure they join the workforce

Image of student at work
Photo: Solis Images/Fotolia

By Rob Mitchell and Catherine Mawn

The air of resigned inevitability that met the announcement of a third national lockdown was quickly replaced with a stream of emails and telephone conversations as social workers hastily rearranged childcare and other caring responsibilities.

Once sorted, thoughts quickly then moved on to how social workers would ensure the wellbeing of people we support. Virtual calls, safe and well telephone checks and PPE supplies re-checked ready for face-to-face visits.

Finally, we then took time to think about our support to our social work students. Students whose studies have already been so badly impacted due to the pandemic. Once again, we found ourselves working out what could be put in place swiftly and effectively to get them through their placements.

Unprecedented circumstances

During the first lockdown it took social work employers and universities a while to understand the full impact of the pandemic and consequences for student social workers on placement. This resulted in a number of different approaches being taken, and a sense of no overall national plan.

This was understandable given that it was unprecedented circumstances. Social work employers were collectively responding to: keeping people who needed social work support safe; transformation overnight (literally) of social work operational procedures; keeping our social work employees safe and well.

Our collective thoughts and actions had of course to first centre on people who received support, predominantly those at increased risk from the pandemic and the increased risk of isolation in unsafe settings.

As day centres, schools and community resources closed, we become more concerned about how people’s social needs could be met with ever decreasing options available to us.

Confusion for students

However, for many students the lack of a coherent national plan, and resulting diverse approaches from university and placement providers, left them confused. In the immediate aftermath of the first lockdown some students reported feeling abandoned and took to social media to vent their dismay.

It is important to add that among this there were sparks of brilliance, such as the emergence of the virtual social work student community offering support to other students along with colleagues at the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

It was humbling to see online academics, independent social work educators and practice educators also respond to the situation, filling the gap caused by hastily ended or suspended placements and a lack of alternatives as face-to-face teaching ceased.

The development of a wide range of online support groups, webinars and other learning opportunities served to keep students connected. From the spring onwards it was clear that employers, working with Social Work England and following guidance to work closely with higher education institutions, managed somehow to ensure minimal disruption wherever possible and provide students with the support they needed.

However, we must learn the lessons from the first lockdown and be prepared to challenge ourselves to ensure we get the support right for students who remain impacted once again.

Third lockdown

As we now enter a third lockdown, with so much learning and practical experience so badly impacted on due to the pandemic, it is vital that we go further and provide social work students with the guidance and support they need.

This should be provided at a national level so that we do not face the awful consequences of thousands of social work students who may be unable to evidence competence and are therefore not ready to move into practice.

Social work students have lives as complex as anyone else in social work. They are also having to again rearrange childcare and other caring responsibilities, worry about their paid work to support themselves and their families as they also face the impact on their studies and practice placements.

This is the time that the social work community must come together and demonstrate a commitment to social work students. To provide them with tangible support that enables them to continue to balance these acute responsibilities whilst recognising that we have a duty to ensure that practice is safe and sustainable.

Postcode lottery risk

The profession needs to help these students (and their practice educators) and it needs to help them fast. It is no longer acceptable to leave the support to individual universities and employers. Whilst there are great examples of ‘blended learning’ taking place in parts of the country to assist students, it is not a unified offer to all students.

A localised approach to the current situation risks a postcode lottery for our future workforce, who deserve so much better than that. This is not a time for knee-jerk reactions. However, neither is this a time for a reliance on inflexible processes that are only suitable in a non-emergency environment.

As a profession working in an environment where for the second year running A-Level and GCSE exams have been cancelled, we too need to be prepared to think the unthinkable to support our student colleagues.

We feel that if we make the big decisions now and while we have time to put support arrangements in place, there is hope that we can rise to the unprecedented challenge that we are facing.

At a national level, we need a coherent plan across the profession. There are two main areas that any national plan should address:

  1. A relaxation of requirements
    For Social Work England to consider a relaxation of the requirements to fulfil two learning practice placements and 200 days of learning (inclusive of 30 skills days).Instead, it should be accepted that for some students the successful completion of one placement may be considered satisfactory evidence for progression where learning has been well evidenced. We recognise that this is not ideal and would not advocate a reduction on the number of placements lightly. However, a continued reliance on a 70 and final 100-day placement is potentially causing a severe backlog of student placements which will lead to late qualification of students.The profession relies on newly qualified social workers (NQSW) coming into the workforce each year and a delay of qualifying cohorts throughout 2021 could potentially have serious implications for workforce planning and meeting the needs of those we support.
  2. Working together
    That social work employers work together with Skills for Care and Social Work England, to provide a national framework for the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) that provides comprehensive support to all qualifying social work students to help deliver ‘on the job’ professional support once registered and employed. The enhanced ASYE should consider that there will be learning gaps for students due to the pandemic but sets out an intensive, individually tailored programme of work to enable these NQSWs to access the extra support they will need post-graduation, to develop and learn and essentially meet any gaps in their skills and knowledge caused by the disruption of the pandemic. Whilst it is acknowledged that not all social work employers provide an assessed  and supported year in employment, we would urge the profession to use this opportunity to ‘grasp the nettle’ and request that all those who employ newly qualified social workers sign up to providing the ASYE as a minimum standard for employing social workers.

Stepping up for students

Over the previous year we have seen the most amazing work from social work students. The creativity, innovation, values and resilience that they have shown since March 2020 is probably evidence enough for them to be offered any social work job, anywhere across the sector.

Social work students have stepped up and now it is our turn to do the same. We must demonstrate flexibility. We must not allow the rules and regulations that belong to pre-pandemic work to hold back students or worse still, hinder their progress.

We need to stop counting the number of placements or the days completed and ensure that the opportunities and experiences for students enable them to fulfil placement requirements, while working in such difficult circumstances.

The first year in practice needs to be accepted for this cohort of social work students, who qualify during the pandemic, as part of the continued learning experience. We owe it to the people we support to ensure that the talent pipeline is supported through the pandemic and so that they can rely on brilliant new social workers in the future.

Social work students need to see from social work educators, employers, regulators and administrators, the same level of creativity, empathy, values and understanding that the profession expects of them.

Rob Mitchell is a principal social worker for adults. Catherine Mawn is a social work development manager.

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45 Responses to Thinking the unthinkable to support social work students in this third lockdown

  1. Nigel January 6, 2021 at 11:00 am #

    It’s really not that difficult to ensure we get the learning experiences to equip us to be competent. SWE is not fit for purpose when it comes to qualified staff so is incapable of understanding and supporting us. We need a thinking regulator not one obsessed with it’s own self evidenced rules. I am daily in awe of social workers who inspite of the incompetence of employers support and nurture clients. I don’t want to become a burden on them for yet another expectation they will be left alone to see through. I find it astonishing that the authors here advocate curtailing our learning for the sake of “workforce planning”. We are not fodder to fill upcoming vacancies. We are dedicated students committed to learning. We want to evidence our competence. We deserve more than well meaning buzz words, help our learning don’t scramble to shorten our opportunities. Empower practice educators, support them to make the often difficult judgements about our competence. We don’t need a centralised bureaucracy dictating to experinced practitioners. Trust them to tell you how to address this. Listen to them and students will be fine. It’s not the number of days which matter, it’s the quality of our learning opportunities.

    • Claire Henderson January 6, 2021 at 5:17 pm #

      I am an advanced social care practitioner in Adults and was privileged to be able to mentor 2 newly qualified social workers in their ASYE through the pandemic and its about taking their practise experience in their placements and developing this. I qualified in 2010 and didn’t have an assisted year and learnt on the job, using the experienced social workers.in my team. If we are to have a quality resilient workforce, I believe we have to support both students and newly qualified to navigate the role and have good experiences, have good and reflective supervision. Not use them as this will build up resentment and we will lose them. I am for the framework as a gudence but trust the qualified workers, we after all are working on the front line, know the difficulties and know support is.vital. workforce planning and using students and asye alike is not good practice unless the pe/mentors are supported.

  2. Roslyn Gowers January 6, 2021 at 12:31 pm #

    I’m pleased to see the emphasis on adapting the ASYE programme for newly qualified SWs who have had placements in the current situation. This is going to be really important as the wide range of experiences, opportunities and strategies that have been in place over the last year has left us with students having a really disparate training and learning journey, depending on, as you say, course, placement and geographical differences. Like Nigel, I don’t think we should necessarily reduce days – students need time to build confidence as well as skills and the impact on this of shorter placements has been very obvious – but I do think we need, as Practice Educators, to be encouraged and supported to be honest and open about what ‘gaps’ in learning exist when students qualify so that they can hope to get those gaps addressed at ASYE level, without fear that this will disadvantage the student in any way.

  3. Andrew Halligan January 6, 2021 at 1:12 pm #

    A very strange proposal. Not sure how curtailing learning and asking already overburdened and a close to burn out workforce to take on under trained NQSW’s and train them on the job for a year serves anything other than to off set vacancies. This kind of bureaucratic response is what is driving social workers like me with 28 years of experience out. Managerialism disguised as empathy doesn’t cut it anymore.

    • Tijani January 8, 2021 at 6:47 pm #

      I agree with you totally. I had to drop out of a PE training this academic year as I found the online learning experience very difficult coupled with current demands of the job and multiple layers of support needed to train a student social worker. I honestly felt I can’t do my best to support a student during the pandemic, take care of myself and my vulnerable children and families. It’s very important for social work Student training to have the practical and 1:1 experience. This is what makes a good social worker.

  4. Georgie January 6, 2021 at 4:38 pm #

    I, like many, many others, never expected a pandemic in our first year of employment following graduation. This has had a huge impact on training and shadowing opportunities and left many feeling very under equipped to do their jobs. Home working has meant peer support has been all but eradicated, and has made it very easy to hide from problems due to the lack of scrutiny from managers, who are busy dealing with Covid responses. My ASYE is a joke when home working, and I am already so burnt out that my first weeks AL since March has been spent searching for jobs outside of social care. We are just as vulnerable as our clients, we’re all people going through the same pandemic and it’s frightening. More must be done to support not just students and newly qualified workers, but the whole workforce.

  5. Claire January 6, 2021 at 8:26 pm #

    I would like to see more flexibility in ASYE/Academies to make it more accessible to all. I believe more part-time or job share ASYE’s could be introduced – it may reduce early burn out and mean NQSW’s don’t leave within 5 -7 years. Our professional stands for diversity and inclusivity so why not for NQSW’s?

  6. Adrian January 6, 2021 at 10:41 pm #

    That’s a bit tense Rob, loosen up; it’s not that bad in our world.😷🥳

  7. Betty January 6, 2021 at 10:47 pm #

    This notion that reducing placement days keeps resurfacing despite PEs in general opposing this option. Students are encountering less direct practice experience due to Covid restrictions, so the focus needs to be on supporting them and their PEs whilst on placement with innovative learning opportunities that will help prepare for practice once qualified. Firing inexperienced students straight into front line practice is reckless, no matter how amazing the ASYE Programme is.

    • Dave January 13, 2021 at 2:30 pm #

      Well Said Betty, and I would add– Dangerous

  8. Deanna January 7, 2021 at 12:13 am #

    I spent most of the day hiding and crying today while trying to home school my son and complete an assignment. I have also started getting tasks to complete for placement and I have to catch up on one day of advanced skills. I feel sick with worry constantly and I feel deserted by my university and Social Work England. Whenever us students try to express our worries it just gets brushed off.

    • Anna Wright January 9, 2021 at 6:45 pm #

      Please speak to your advisor at uni Deanna. They will be able to help you and your practice educator think about how you can fit in home, work and uni and which things are just going to have to wait!
      They can help you re-prioritise your tasks and help you not feel so alone with it.

      You’ve got this!

    • Mia January 10, 2021 at 6:55 pm #

      I am feeling the same Deanna. Feel more and more is being piled on with uni and placement while also trying to manage the emotional and practical difficulties associated with the pandemic. I am struggling to see a way through this course. My cohort has had more than 10% drop out since march ….

  9. Sina Adelaja-Olowoake January 7, 2021 at 12:27 am #

    I am a final year Social Work (P G) student who completed his first (70 day) placement almost six months after the initially proposed completion date. At the moment I am yet to start my second (100 day) placement. There are currently very few lecture days and so most days are spent trying to work on my dissertation. Just like it’s been fir everyone, it has been a strange and challenging period. Staying motivated is a major issue but one just has to keep on keeping on. But there has to be some flexibility on the part of SWE to regarding placements.
    I wonder what will happen if this pandemic lasts beyond this summer. That cannot be ruled out even though it is unlikely. SWE will have to show some creativity.

  10. Harrie January 7, 2021 at 12:36 am #

    Can you imagine your response if your GP or A&E Dr, as they were about to start a medical procedure on you, shared that they’d missed nearly half their practical training – you wouldn’t let them near you.

    Social workers are skilled professionals who undertake life changing risk assessments and interventions with the most vulnerable individuals in our society. This proposal does nothing to protect or provide what is essential for both vulnerable individuals and trainee social workers – we should go nowhere near it.

  11. Samantha January 7, 2021 at 12:42 am #

    I am a third year student. The pandemic has affected my studies since the second semester of year two. I feel lucky that i was able to complete the 70 days placement without being impacted on by the pandemic. However, some of my classmates where not so lucky. Fast foward to october 2020 and the anxiety is back. When do we start university or placement? are the questions on our minds. Now the third lockdown is disrupting my already fragile learning. Not sure if we shall be able to finish placement or get ASYE placements after graduation. Social Work England needs to really step up for us students. I do not want to spend sleepless nights hustling to attain a degree only to be told you cannot be employed because you didnot complete the 100 days of placement or that i do not have ASYE placement because there are no organisations offering it. Because ASYE is a requirement for employment its only fair that all graduates get the opportunity to participate. Social work England and BASWA have been too silent during this crisis. They need to step up.

  12. Retired social work manager January 7, 2021 at 8:47 am #

    Slightly off topic but as a retired SW manager involved in pandemic relief, the gaps in Social Services are huge at the coalface and virtually everything in terms of leading planning and supporting local services have been left entirely to the voluntary sector and local councillors. In pre Community Care and better funded days, there would have been a leading role. Some extremely vulnerable people are left to the vagaries of voluntary sector support which at the end of the day are charities and do not have a statutory role. Meanwhile very fragile communities are left to ‘recreate’ Social Services and some will inevitably struggle. Post pandemic I see a need to rebuild Social Services and revive community development both in terms of training and community activity and not leave it entirely to chance. Thanks for allowing me to post.

  13. Nick Reeve January 7, 2021 at 10:31 am #

    This is an opportunity for some real joined up working. BASW, SWE, Chief Social Workers. I agree a national approach is needed. Social work qualification takes place across autonomous HE institutions. I also agree about empowering and properly recognizing practice educators. They are actual the linchpin in social work education. Currently PEs are accountable to no-one, not managed or supervised and basically left to get on with it on their own. I wouldn’t advocate over regulating and standardizing but PEs have no status within their own profession currently.
    There are tensions between educating social workers generically and providing ASYEs ready to practice. Around 80% of students go into LA jobs.
    The other issue is pragmatic – this is not a normal year or two years but students still need to complete their studies and employers still need to commit to ASYE.
    It is not enough to say it is the universities who should be educating social workers. The LA teams are actually where the serious learning happens and there is a shared responsibility. Currently there is no expectation that LA social work teams play any role at all in educating social work students. Can this really be ok?

    • Sara Rosson January 8, 2021 at 9:55 am #

      In response to your assertion Nick that currently practice educators are accountable to no-one and have no status within our own profession currently. The following identifies our current accountability and status.

      All practice educators are qualified and registered social workers who have passed relevant training for the role. This means we are accountable to Social Work England and the equivalent in Scotland under the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 which interestingly also requires student social workers to register with them.

      To the students and universities, to the practice placements who quality assure our performance.

      to the community we serve

      In addition, independent practice educators are accountable to HM Revenue and Customs and Companies House if employed by their own Company.

      Independent practice educators have not been given a pay rise for around 7 years and indeed the daily rate was cut around 6 years ago from £14 a day for each day a student is on placement to £10 a day. In effect, these practice educators are effectively being paid below the minimum wage and all the more significant when extra support is required for a student.

      All practice educators regardless of their status are dedicated professionals who are working very hard in these unprecedented times and at other times to offer each student the best possible support.

  14. Shah January 7, 2021 at 10:33 am #

    I have been a practice educator for over 17 years and feel that ‘Support’ and ‘Sensitivity’ for students is crucial in such unprecedented times.

    Practically we need to ensure that all students have equipment and where needed mobile data in order to do what is needed. We need to offer where possible flexibility of days and hours when they complete cases as for some weekends, early mornings, late evenings would work better whilst juggling family life, working life, student life, financial constraints amongst many other factors.

    I see this time as a golden opportunity for ‘Innovation and creativity’, than to be rigid in our traditional ways of practice at the cost of the next generation of practitioners.

    • Arthur January 7, 2021 at 11:25 am #

      Whenever I hear calls for Innovation and Creativity, I think of the poor individual who is told to get on with something they have had no input on being told to get on with it. We need consolidation not a change that is for the convinience of employers and managers.

  15. Nicola January 7, 2021 at 10:40 am #

    The title of ‘supporting students’ is very misleading- support them by providing less support whilst they are students & completely cutting one of their placements. I imagine students wouldn’t feel very supported by this.
    Rushing people through their qualification is not a solution, even if they are given extra support during asye.

  16. Jane January 7, 2021 at 10:44 am #

    Absolute tosh. Before you advocate making our placement experiences even more demoralising, support your staff so they can mentor and nurture us. They are under tremendous pressure, face danger every day while you managers work from your homes cosy and safe. Sending out a Christmas tweet thanking your social workers is frankly meaningless when my practice mentor has had to buy her own PPE and build in her own protections to stay safe. Address their issues before you turn us into the recruitment fodder we refuse to be.

  17. Anna January 7, 2021 at 10:51 am #

    It would be nice to see a bit more recognition on the impact the delay in additional bursary payments had on final year students whose placement was delayed and/or extended. I did not finish my final placement until November (supposed to finish in July), and like many others I was unable to work during the pandemic as I was on zero hour contracts and not furloughed, just given no hours and no pay, hence I was relying on the additional funding. The impact no income and the subsequent debt and housing issues I found myself in had on me personally and on my ability to practice and complete my final placement was significant. Especially when supporting families struggling with debt or insecure housing themselves. I am happy to be starting my ASYE in two weeks and have finally been payed the additional funding, but the lasting effects of debt and housing will be a factor I will need to discuss and manage in supervision for many months and maybe years to come.

  18. Jonny January 7, 2021 at 11:38 am #

    Here’s a radical proposal. Given how detached from the realities of social work practice teaching institutions are, abolish academic courses, plough the money into ring fenced employment placements, get us trained on the job and you will have a more skilled and better prepared new staff cohort.
    I am sure those lecturers and associates whose academic tenures end would jump at the chance to join frontline practice. Might not have much time for tweeting mind.

    • Steve January 7, 2021 at 4:41 pm #

      Are you talking about the Social Work Apprenticeship Jonny?? (posted by a lecturer in practice)

      • Jonny January 7, 2021 at 11:56 pm #

        Yes without the philosophical bells though.

    • Julia January 7, 2021 at 10:35 pm #

      I so agree with you Jonny. I consider the current social work degree, taught by academics who are, for the most part greatly removed from front line practice, to be unfit for purpose. I would much rather have learned on the job, with employer led teaching. I only felt I was qualified for the work, after I had been working for a year or so. All the valuable skills I developed in that year were gained alongside experienced workers. University lectures on subjects such as ‘task centred SW’ were, quite frankly a waste of time; time that could have been better spent learning how to write assessments and court statements. I realise an industry has been built up around the training of social workers and it is entirely in their interest to keep the juggernaut going. Get rid of the university led training and get the team managers to assess the progress of their students. Their judgement, together with that of the PE on site is the most trustworthy measure of an individual student’s suitability to practice. I would also say that PEs who are practicing SWs with their own case load, need to remunerated appropriately for the extra stress and work associated with ongoing assessment.

  19. Alice January 7, 2021 at 1:57 pm #

    Ah but Jonny that wouldn’t be ‘professional’. Heaven forfend that we might let in a whiff of the vocational and return to the real roots of social work. That would tarnish the halo wouldn’t it?

  20. Louise rose January 7, 2021 at 4:28 pm #

    Get rid of all the assignments we have to do as well as placement.Teaching has been so limited this year yes there is always support there but not like it was it is very restricted and if we add up the hours my cohort have had in online lectures since this academic year well it’s very minimal and not worth £9k. Nothing against my lovely tutors.

  21. Eleanor January 8, 2021 at 12:15 am #

    De-academise social work. All the practitioner social workers I have had contact with eventually get seduced by the supposed intellectualism of faculty cultures and become a hybrid whose loyalties are to teaching institutions not their social work practice. Just an observation, I don’t mean to be offensive. As social workers all we need is empathy, self awareness, commitment to service, to only respect the hierarchy of needs not organisational priorities, integrity, respect and the ability to listen and learn from real life experinces. In my view the withering away of effective social work is linked with the empty pursuit of professionalism and supposed academic excellence. All of which saddles us with the authoritarian bureaucratic orthodoxies of Social Work England. Anyone still beleive in a regulator that bullies us into ‘demonstrating’ CPD but then lets social workers who have not uploaded CPD to practice anyway?

  22. Robina Sellwood January 8, 2021 at 10:27 am #

    I will get in touch after reading all your comments and see if SWE can put experienced SW and Local Student in contact to offer support…
    B

    • Alex January 8, 2021 at 11:43 am #

      I agree with Eleanors comment about SWE. I have no trust or confidence in SWE so anything with their grubby fingerprints on will never be supportive I’m afraid Robina.

  23. Bradley January 8, 2021 at 11:32 am #

    I am afraid us students and NQSW’s see this proposal for what its is: anticipating future vacancies and looking to fill them by fast tracking student qualifications. On my placement 3 very experienced social workers resigned. Why? Because they no longer beleive in the direction social work is being shaped into. To my shame I thought they were ‘burnt out’. Now I see how managers overrode my practice mentor to assign me work and use me as if I was already qualified, I really understand the oppressive and authoritarian direction social work has taken. I read this not as a supportive proposal but a cynical manipulation of student commitment to meet organisational priorities. The authors should spend thought and energy in asking why so many experienced social workers are leaving? What is it about the conduct of managers that is driving them out? Why are managers more interested in doing the bidding of SWE than advocating for a more relevant and empowering regulator? I’ve come to realise that this social work is not for me and I am saddened that I am looking to leave the profession in my nascent years. It’s time we called out the buddying of leaders who are paralysed by their relationships to challenge each other. I see no leaders advocating for social workers. SWE battered us over CPD but let people who didn’t upload on to the register anyway. Why the silence from leaders about how demoralising this is for those who put in the effort to comply? Time for managers to develop independence and critical engagement. If you fear that your service will collapse because of future vacancies, don’t shovel students into your posts. Ask yourselves why your staff are leaving, ask yourself why they don’t beleive in you, why they don’t trust you to advocate for them. Better still get out of the Twitter echo chamber where you congratulate and big each other up. A single thank you tweet dies not show empathy. Look at yourselves before you turn to students to get you out of the mess you are creating. Me,? Pandemic permitting I will start a management trainee post at Pets at Home in 3 months.

  24. Sam January 8, 2021 at 7:45 pm #

    I have significant reservations about this idea. I’ve been a practice teacher for over a decade and have worked with some excellent students but, by and large, they have not been ready for frontline practice after completing their first placement. I know I certainly wouldn’t have been ready when I was a student and I would have been terrified at the thought. The final placement is an opportunity to build on existing knowledge and skills, undertake more complex work and generally develop greater confidence all within the context of a limited and protected caseload and, with the best will in the world, this cannot be replicated during the first year of professional practice irrespective of the additional pressures and demands that teams are currently facing. NQSWs who feel under-prepared and overwhelmed are unlikely to stay in post and may not even remain in the profession so it would seem to be a false economy to ‘fast track’ them there.

    The pandamic has created numerous challenges and I agree about the need for flexibility and creative thinking around the management of placements but we need to make sure both that students are not short changed and that those we work with can be confident their SWs have been properly trained and assessed before taking up post.

  25. Dee January 8, 2021 at 11:03 pm #

    Theories are a necessary part of social work practice… not all are aware of their biases etc which can negatively impact on service delivery… I don’t believe this is really taught on the job so please don’t wish to remove education…

  26. Charlie Collinson January 9, 2021 at 11:24 am #

    “We either want to be taken seriously as a profession or we don’t” someone once said. The answer is not in this article.

  27. Carol Reid January 9, 2021 at 5:19 pm #

    Many already-qualified social workers would be able and prepared to return or stay in the profession if there were more opportunities to work part-time. Given that the majority of social workers are women aged between 30 and 49 it’s easy to see how they may have additional home-caring responsibilities for children or elderly relatives which make full-time employment very difficult. Part-time, flexible and job-share roles however are few and far between. Employers need to recognize the value of social workers who have no option but to work part-time but are no less skilled.

  28. Nancy January 10, 2021 at 7:28 pm #

    If a social work trainee needs to be taught theories about oppression, racism, discrimination, empathy, power dynamics and the rest on a course than I think there is something wrong with the selection process. Social work education should be about enhancing the understanding of power dynamics not opening the eyes of a student to the inequities of the society they live in. A social work qualification is not an education if the majority of newly qualified staff feel teaching institutions did not prepare them for the task of social work. Education without purpose is the blind pursuit of a paper qualification not competence.

  29. Norman January 11, 2021 at 9:46 am #

    It depends on what you mean by education though Dee. Most of the students I’ve had conversations with over the years feel their “education” has actually de-skilled them not enhanced their knowledge. Our colleagues Deanna and Mia need to be listened to. Their experinces and the drop out rates Mia mentions don’t suggest a supportive education system. Let trainees join teams, give them protected learning time, allow them proper reflection, listen to what they say they need to learn and become confident. That’s the way to have a skilled and contented workforce. But then I only have a CQSW so probably lack the education to understand nuance and complexity.

  30. Janet January 13, 2021 at 10:35 am #

    This is a very confused proposal. Appreciate if the authors can further comment on: if for “some” students it is appropriate to shorten placements, how is their learning to be evidenced and what role will PE’s and employers play? What happens to those who are not “some”? What is the evidence that the profession “relies” on NQSW’s? What is the evidence that workforce planning is a live thought for employers now? What gives the authors the confidence to beleive that in an environment where staff supervision is increasingly sacrificed, employers have the inclination or the resources to offer the necessary on the job training and development to compensate for their proposals?

  31. Cindy January 13, 2021 at 1:03 pm #

    Were you able to contact SWE Robina? Were they able to say if they could help us?

  32. David Veazey January 13, 2021 at 2:15 pm #

    I have been a qualified P.E since 2000 the majority of students that I have been involved with have been brilliant. However, a small percentage I would describe as Dangerous. It is therefore vital that we dont cut corners and ensure that students are provided with the correct training and challenges before qualifying. Fast tracking is not the answer and putting the onus on teams and individuals is not appropriate. It is easy to get into bad habits and Social Work and Social Work training is too vital and complex for that to happen .

  33. Z January 14, 2021 at 2:27 am #

    It would be nice if similar approaches could be applied to counselling also.

  34. Alison January 17, 2021 at 11:23 am #

    Our responses here say all that needs to be said to bury this absurd and self indulgent proposal. If ‘leaders’ and ‘academics’ start convinced they know what is best for the rest of us they inevitably get it wrong. If you want to help students please talk to them before you parade your ’empathy’. Our challenges are not how we are manipulated to plug vacant posts, that’s the managers agenda. Manager world invariably never corresponds to our realities and challenges. If the authors had condescended to speak to us before telling us, we might have had the same story.