This section is intended to help, support and guide you in your role as a practice teacher
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.
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).
Communication & 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.
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.
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.
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).
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