Students


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Over the past week,   I have submitted an application to a practice teaching programme. It was always a part of my long-term plan – for many years, I’ve mentioned my interest in taking a student within the service that I work, in fact, even in my interview for my current job, I stated it was a ‘career’ goal’.

During that self-same interview, I was told by the service manager that the service need would dictate that first, I train as an ASW (as was..) and when I had completed that qualification, then and only then would I be able to take the practice teaching course.

I pondered on the ‘Enabling Others’ shorter course to take a student on, but settled on the full Practice Teaching award. I enjoy learning and training and can see definite advantages in the longer programme – as long as my local authority are happy for me to take it (which they are).

The training manager who is responsible for social workers’ post-qualification training has been pestered repeatedly by me for the last couple of years, asking her to give me details of the available courses – so much so that she mentioned it to my manager at a time I had more or less forgotten that the deadline was advancing.

And so it was that I submitted an application.

The borough is fairly flexible and being in London, there is access to a number of different universities with which they have links. I had the choice initially of three different programmes run by three different universities.

The ideal one (I felt) involved the longest travelling distances so I caved and as of next year, I return to the university at which I first qualified, myself as a social worker. I had a number of reservations – mostly built on memories of the university 10 years back – but one of the things that nudged me was the recollections of myself as a student at X University and how much I would have loved a placement at the place where I am now currently working…

I have no doubts it’ll be a tough period. I am finding work hard to balance at times, especially as some of the work can come up so suddenly – but that is pretty much how the work is and I think it will be a useful placement to someone out there!

And on the subject of student social workers, which I wasn’t really.. I had one come to shadow me earlier in the year. I was actually asked because she is currently doing some home care work for one of the service users I am allocated to. I offered to have her come in because it can be hard to find a social worker to shadow and I quite like having students around.

And so it was that she asked me to write a report about her time with me. It didn’t help that she had shadowed me in March and requested the report in July but I’d been on holiday so I ended up writing the report the day morning my father died. It was sitting on my desk when I left work at speed. I didn’t send it.

When I returned to work 10 days later, I  had a string of telephone calls and emails asking me when I was going to send the report to her – quite grumpy really – and another call telling me she was going to fail her portfolio because I had never sent the report.

I was sorry but I wasn’t terribly impressed to be honest. I sent her a curt email explaining that I had been off work on compassionate leave and would send the report immediately.

Yesterday, as I was trying to re-arrange some care package for the service user that she visits, he mentioned that he was sorry to hear about my father and that –insert name of social work student- had told him why I’d been off work.

As it was, I wasn’t too bothered about him knowing – but if it had happened before I’d written the glowing report – I’d have had a few things to say to the university about confidentiality, professionalism and appropriateness.

So there’s a lesson I’ll no doubt be able to share with my first student, when he or she arrives, probably in the new year..

6 thoughts on “Students

  1. You seem to have a rigorous program for taking on a student. I wish we’d develop something like that. I think a lot of new people get in the field and instantly feel that after a couple years of practice that they’d be a great supervisor for a student, when the reality is, they’re still so much in the beginning stages themselves.

    • We have to either do a Practice Teaching course which is at postgraduate level and, depending on the university, 5-9 months, or a shorter Enabling Others course but then there would still be another supervisor who has the practice teaching qualification doing some of the student supervision. Our local authority requires at least three years experience post-qualification although I know the actual minimum is 2 years.
      I think it’s quite important to know how to supervise to an extent and I’m looking forward to the process – which, no doubt, I’ll document!

  2. Good luck with the practice teaching qualification, cb. I think any student would be very lucky to be placed with you! (Certainly sounds like that other student could have done with a bit longer to learn a little more about confidentiality and professional courtesy etc. )

  3. I thought you were a bit hard on your student. It may have just slipped out and he realised his error the moment he spoke. But he, not the client, should have been the first to tell you about the slip if that is what it was.

    More broadly how much should our clients be permitted to know about their social worker? They see the face, know the name and pick up on clues like wedding rings, a cross on a neck chain etc. Parents very often ask their social worker whether s/he have children themselves. How do you think that question should be answered?

  4. Perhaps it is harsh. I just thought it should be my decision to make about disclosure rather than someone else’s. And generally, I answer any question asked to me honestly unless I think it is going to detract the focus of the conversation away from the reason I am there.
    That’s my limit – so I will tell people truthfully when they ask me if I’m married/have children etc, whereabouts I am from/live etc etc but sometimes it’s a gut instinct as to the appropriateness and I wouldn’t answer on behalf of someone else!
    I am not overly worried in this situation – but it does point to a learning need, in my opinion.

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