image wonderlane at flickr

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..