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The NPTSWI is a collaboration of the six HEI's providing social work education in Ireland funded by the DCEDIY

Lyn Dorney, NPTSWI Project Coordinator

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Self-care and practice teaching

Dr Kenneth Burns

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Social media and practice teaching

Dr Kenneth Burns

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Assessment

The assessment and evaluation of students on placement is the responsibility of Practice Teachers. 

The practice teacher  provides an assessment of the placement supported by evidence from the student’s practice referencing CORU’s Domains of Proficiency. 

5 Standards of Proficiency:

  • Professional Autonomy and Accountability.
  • Communication, Collaborative Practice and Teamworking.
  • Safety and Quality.
  • Professional Development.
  • Professional Knowledge and Skills

Assessment of practice placement is based on a satisfactory or unsatisfactory judgement. 

The practice teacher will draw on a range of sources, both direct and indirect, in assessing and evaluating the student’s practice on placement. During the placement process, regular and constructive feedback should be given to the student in order to improve performance & stimulate learning. Feedback should be sufficient, specific, relevant, timely and include recommendations for improvement.  Students should be clear on the learning they are expected to achieve and understand the assessment process.

A pass is merited when the student has demonstrated competencies across  all five areas of the Social Workers Registration Board’s (CORU) standards of proficiency for social workers.  An unsatisfactory rating in one or more of the areas will result in a fail recommendation.  

A pass on the first placement indicates fitness to proceed to the second placement.   

A pass on the final placement and completion of the programme means  the student is eligible to apply to register with CORU.

 Please note: This guidance is for information only and does not replace the official advice provided to practice teachers from each university (HEI) in which the student is based.  If in doubt refer to the marks and standards and course handbook for the official guidance on assessment.

 

 Resources

Description Link/Download
Helen Cleak, Erna O’Connor & Audrey Roulston (2022): Integrating relational knowing and structured learning in social work placements – a framework for learning in practice, Social Work Education Download Integrating relational knowing and structured learning in social work placements
Wilson, E., & Flanagan, N. (2021). What tools facilitate learning on placement? Findings of a social work student-to-student research study. Social Work Education40(4), 535-551. Download What tools facilitate learning on placement?
Flanagan, N., & Wilson, E. (2018). What makes a good placement? findings of a social work student-to-student research study. Social Work Education, 37(5), 565-580. Download What makes a good placement?

 

Supervision & Reflective Practice

Supervision is a crucial part of reflective practice and an integral part of social work (Fook, 1996).  Over the course of the practice placement there is an expectation that supervision is offered on a weekly basis for 1.5 hours.  As a regulated profession social workers including practice teachers must ‘seek and engage in supervision in professional practice on an ongoing and regular basis,' (CORU, IASW).

 

Resources

Description  Link/Download
Quigley, D.,  Poole, C., Whiting, S., O'Connor, E.,  Gleeson, C., &  Alpine, L., (2022)  University student experiences of work-based placements during COVID-19 pandemic: An inter-disciplinary survey of allied health and social work students., Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning Read University student experiences of work-based placements during COVID-19 pandemic
Rankine, M. (2017). Making the connections: A practice model for reflective supervision. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(3), 66-78. Read Making the connections
Live Supervision of Students in Field Placement: More than Just Watching Download Live Supervision of Students in Field Placement
The A-Z of Good Supervision Download The A-Z of Good Supervision
Remote Supervision in Social Work, created by the Online Social Work Practice Initiative Download Remote Supervision in Social Work
A guide on self-care for professionals in social work Download the SPRAK: A Self-care Tool for Professionals

Siobhan Maclean - The Big 6 Reflective Model 

Watch the video on The Big 6 Reflective Model

The Resilient Practitioner: Self-Care, Burnout and Resilience for Professionals

Watch the video on The Resilient Practitioner

The University of Edinburgh Reflectors' Toolkit

View the Reflector's Toolkit

Self-care and practice teaching

Dr Kenneth Burns

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Communication and Feedback

Communication skills and feedback are a central part of social work practice and also of practice teaching.  Social workers must be adaptive to an ever-increasing range of communication forms and styles in work with service users and across disciplines and services. Addressing barriers to communication is also fundamental to social work practice. Skills in feedback are essential.

"Providing effective feedback includes: Finding ways to encourage students to be active participants in the feedback process AND Delivering feedback in a manner that aligns with best practice. "Dr Erna O'Connor & Sinead Whiting, TCD. 

Resources

Description  Link/Download
The mental health needs of social work students:
findings from an Irish survey
Download The mental health needs of social work students: findings from an Irish survey paper
Making the most of feedback – promoting feedback literacy in student placements Download the Making the Most of Feedback session slides
Communication and Learning Practice View the information on Theories of Communication
Communicating: Building an Online Rapport, created by the Online Social Work Practice Initiative Download the Communicating_Building an Online Rapport document

 

Addressing Concerns on Placement

Occasionally, despite the best efforts of all concerned a placement may not go as well as expected. Concerns may arise at any point during the placement. If a practice teacher sees that a student is not demonstrating the competencies required by CORU and is at risk of failing the placement  the practice teacher must alert the tutor and university as early as is possible to this risk. This will trigger a special /additional /early tripartite meeting where the situation can be reviewed. It is important that the evidence that demonstrates that the student is not reaching the CORU competencies is discussed and recorded accurately. it is expected that the student is given a clear indication of what needs to be demonstrated and this information is clearly recorded at the tripartite. A reasonable amount of time to demonstrate the expected competencies is also agreed and a further meeting organised for the end of this period to discuss if the competencies are being demonstrated.

Description Link/Download
“When Placements Run into Difficulty” by Marguerita McGovern, Guest Lecturer on the MA Social Work, University of Galway  Download When Placements Run into Difficulty
Roulston, A., Cleak, H., Hayes, D., McFadden, P., OConnor, E., & Shore, C. (2021). To fail or not to fail: Enhancing our understanding of reasons why social work students failed practice placements (2015–2019). Social Work Education, , 1-17. Read To fail or not to fail
McGovern, M. (2020). Assessment and decision making under the spotlight: The roles of student, practice teacher, tutor and university in four failed social work placements. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 17(3), 64-81. Read Assessment and decision making under the spotlight

Theory to Practice

Why are social work theories important?

Social work theories are one useful way to approach understanding this complex and diverse field. They are important because they help social work professionals support their clients and communities effectively.  For students of social work it supports them to address the issues they have to deal with through a research-based lens. The theories help students to better understand complex human behaviours and social environments, which influence people’s lives and problems.

Making the connection between theory and practice is important as it demonstrates an ability to use evidence to increase your understanding of key concepts, justify your decision-making and inform future practice. A good grasp of theory helps to guide student social workers by providing them with a sense of direction, purpose and control over their work. It assists both students and practice teachers to make informed decisions about the work they do. It also helps agencies and organisations develop policies that effectively help those supported by the service.

Resources

Description Link/Download
Siobhan Maclean - What is the difference between theory, model, method and approach in social work? Watch the video 
Integrating theory and practice: The three-stage theory framework by Pat Collingwood Download Integrating theory and practice
Social work skills and interventions Download the Lexicon of 80 Social Work Skills and Interventions

Ethics & Governance Issues

Ethics are considered integral to the practice of social work. In fact, Hugman and Carter (2016) write ‘ethics is the cornerstone of ‘good work’ in social work and without ethics other processes are redundant.’ If ethics are integral to social work, then it is not surprising that placement plays a key role in supporting students to understand the importance of ethics for practice, for example becoming ‘familiar with the provisions of the current Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Social Workers’ (CORU, 2019).  The role of the practice teacher is to provide a space for students to critically explore the relationship between ethics and professional practice. While not exhaustive, the following areas may support learning: the importance of professional boundaries, the limits of confidentiality, how social work values such as dignity, respect, and the promotion of human rights/social justice are reflected in practice,  the importance of practising in a non-discriminatory, culturally sensitive way and developing a capacity to work with diversity and difference, the role of ethics when using social media and finding ways to make decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. This section will offer resources to support practice teachers and students to explore ethics in the context of placement.

Social media is an increasing part of practice life in social work. We use social media in our personal lives, and practitioners are now using social media as part of their day-to-day work in an increasingly number of practice settings. Social media is now a part of the induction and practice for students on social work placements.   According to the Code of Professional Conduct & Ethics for Social Workers (2019) “always consider the possible impact on service users and others before publishing any material, information or comments on social media, taking care to avoid abusive, unsustainable or defamatory comments” (CORU, 2019: 11). 

Resources

Description Link/Download

Papouli, E. (2016). Teaching and Learning for Ethical Practice in Social Work Education. 

Read Teaching and Learning for Ethical Practice in Social Work Education

Banks, S. (2016). Everyday ethics in professional life: social work as ethics work. Ethics and Social Welfare, 10(1), 35-52.

Read Everyday ethics in professional life

Fossen, C. M., Anderson-Meger, J. I., & Zellmer, D. A. D. (2014). Infusing a New Ethical Decision-Making Model Throughout a BSW Curriculum. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 11(1), 66-81

Read Infusing a New Ethical Decision-Making Model Throughout a BSW Curriculum.

Reamer, F. (2012). Essential Ethics Education in Social Work Field Instruction: A Blueprint for Field Educators. Rhode Island College Faculty Publications

Read Essential Ethics in Social Work Field Instruction 

Reamer, F (2002) Eye on Ethics, Making Difficult Decisions, Social Work Today, October 14, 2002

Read Eye on Ethics 
International Federation of Social Workers Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles Read the Statement of Ethical Principles
CORU Codes of Professional Conduct and Ethics Read the Codes of Conduct

 IASW Code of Practice, IASW Anti-Racist Strategy, and IASW Code of Ethics

Read the IASW documents
Siobhan Maclean - Ethics in Social Work Watch the video on Ethics in Social Work
Social Media Abuse of Social Workers Ireland Edition, created by the Online Social Work Practice Initiative Download the Social Media Abuse of Social Workers Ireland Edition document

Social media and practice teaching

Dr Kenneth Burns

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Social Work Placement: New Approaches. New Thinking eBook Series

Hear from the author Marguerita McGovern

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National Practice Teaching in Social Work Initiative

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