I read on the Community Care website yesterday, that the undergraduate Social Work course at Royal Holloway College is being suspended. As I briefly alluded to on my Twitter feed, this surprised me – and my expression of interest is that I went for an interview at Royal Holloway coming up to 10 years ago and was not offered a place (well, I was offered a place on their ‘reserve’ list but also got a definite offer from ‘university I ended up attending’).
I had thought the course at Royal Holloway College was quite good and seemed to have a strong emphasis on academic quality – however the action to suspend the course comes after criticism from the GSCC who raised concerns about the quality of the course last year.
The students’ concerns centred on the lack of resources for the degree and internal complaints, appeals and whistleblowing procedures.
It did get me thinking though – firstly, the criticisms seem to have arisen from student complaints. Which goes to show how important it is for students’ voices to be heard and to be expressed. It’s ironic that the concerns that lead to the suspension of the course relate to whistleblowing. Good for the students who did speak out though.
I also read that Brunel University (I think I applied to them too actually, come to think of it – but they didn’t even interview me!)
was the only degree provider to fail to win approval in 2007-8, and cancelled its BA social work course in September for one year. The report said this was due to concerns about the resources allocated to practice placements and partnerships with employers.
I suppose, not being directly involved with universities, it had passed me by that the GSCC monitor the courses regularly.
I was thinking yesterday, as I was pounding the streets from bus stop to Day Hospital, how I would put the world to rights. I do that sometimes – it makes the time pass more quickly.
I wonder if some of the concerns would be addressed by a much more robust post-degree initial period of training alongside qualified staff. I know it has been proposed but as a part of the qualification process itself, rather than as a ‘newly qualified’ social worker.
So that the degree provides one strand of knowledge but that you cannot be registered as a social worker without the post-degree practice experience. It was just a thought. I’m not sure of how it all might work in practice.
The degree itself might be useful for many different careers or different areas of practice but to be a qualified social worker students would have to have a period of training post-degree.
My experience of universities as a part of post-qualifying consortiums hasn’t been fairly neutral but not wholly positive. Some of the areas that need to be emphasised may not fit neatly into current university models and workplace learning is all the more essential to promote and develop competent and confident practitioners. It isn’t fair on students to have them.